Notes from the editor

Given the importance of Covid-19 we have decided to place key links on this home page rather than open a separate page, as previously announced.

To ease our management of the response to emails with questions about the content of articles, we will provide author email addresses in the footers of articles. In this way readers can contact them directly with any questions. The dates of posting will also be provided.

Content follow up

Any content follow up and replies received will be posted on an e-forum page with link on the article page accessible by clicking on

New emphases

We welcome contributions, on advances relevant to Sustainable Development Goals. We will increase the site content related to innovation as new practical solutions to critical issues.


Comprehensive articles will be released as publications (pdf) and the web content will contain fair summaries. In order to support AIO operations we will be introducing small charges for AIO publications. We will be opening a new section that only contains available publications so as to de-clutter the home page.


U.S. Secretary of Agriculture has announced the Innovation Agenda, for USDA to align resources, programs, and research to position American agriculture meet future global demands. The goal is to increase production by 40 percent and halve e-footprint by 2050.

FAO Food Price Index rises sharply

Global food commodity prices rose to a nearly six-year high in November.
FAO also trims its cereal crop forecasts and notes 45 countries need external assistance for food

Progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals - Report of the Secretary-General, UN

[20200527] APEurope wire:  In accordance with General Assembly decision 70/1, the Secretary-General, in cooperation with the United Nations system, has released the 2020 report on progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals. This report provides a global overview of the current situation of the Sustainable Development Goals, based on the latest available data for indicators in the global indicator framework.

To access this report click on the graphic on the right.

AMIS-Agricultural Market Information System

According to this month’s report, COVID-19 ravaged economies must now endure the impacts of the second wave of the pandemic, which is set to wreak more havoc on people, economies and livelihoods.

AMIS - covers international markets for wheat, maize, rice andsoybeans, giving a synopsis of major market developments and the policy and other market drivers behind them.

The analysis is a collective assessment of the market situation and outlook by the ten international organizations and entities that form the AMIS Secretariat. The November 2020 edition can be accessed by clicking on the image on the right.

FAO release,
Food Outlook 2020

To access click on image below.

Introducing EPA2030 - Economic Policies for Agenda 2030

The mismatch between macroeconomic policies and Agenda 2030 goals was identified in the 2019 Sustainable Development Report. In particular this report highlighted by the negative correlation between "economic growth" and income disparity, sustainable production and consumption and climate action. These unaccepatble negative trends impact agricultural production and agricultural innovation and therefore we introduced the series "EPA2030-Economic Policies for Agenda 2030" to explore how this existential problem can be resolved.

This series has become one of the most internationally accessed on Agricultural Innovation because the economic issues are considered by many readers to not have been addressed adequately within the Agenda 2030 SDGs. It is very apparent that this represents a gap in available information linked to a lack of practical orientation on how to balance up the economic and sustainability factors in a feasible fashion. We have therefore decided to extend the scope of this series and we will insure that all substantive points raised by readers as well as specific questions and requests are covered in the forthcoming posts.

The George Boole Foundation is creating a dedicated Task Force to support this important initiative.


FAO release,
The State of Agricultural Commodity Markets 2020

The State of Agricultural Commodity Markets 2020 (SOCO 2020) reviews policies and mechanisms for sustainable outcomes in agricultural and food global abd national markets. The analysis includes the evolution of trade and markets; global value chains; smallholder participation in value chains and the transformative impacts of digital technology.

To access click on the image below.

Part 5: Impact analysis - the role of locational-state theory in improving project results

Locational-state theory (LST) has a role in contributing to diagnostics on farms to reverse the negative trends concerning income disparity, general sustainability and climate change while sustaining economic feasibility.

This article describes simple LST relationships as a basis for understanding the influence of natural resource conditions on agricultural productivity and aiding production diagnostics and advice to farmers optimise production plans to achieve a balance between costs, real incomes, sustainability and climate change.


Countries requiring external assistance for food

FAO assesses that globally 45 countries, including 34 in Africa, are in need of external assistance for food. The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic is an important driver of the levels of global food insecurity, exacerbating and intensifying already fragile conditions. Conflicts, weather events and pests remain critical factors underpinning the high levels of severe food insecurity.

Part 4: Impact analysis - why are so many project results disappointing?

Over the last 50 years the complexity of the project environment has changed and the nature of the training and experience of practitioners in the international agricultural development space have changed.

The practical results of efforts are often disappointing so how can this be avoided?

This article is the fourth in the "Economic Policies for Agenda 2030" series.

Read more

Part 3: Living Income - this should be a critical object of macroeconomic policy

Concept of living income face issues linked to time-based changes such as inflation.

The fundamental cause is monetary policy. Until changes are introduced to policy objectives and instruments, it will be struggle to maintain the logic of living incomes or to deliver them in practice, in low income countries.

This article is the third in the "Economic Policies for Agenda 2030" series.

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Part 2: Project and macroeconomic coherence for Agenda 2030 Sustainable Development Goals

Project and macroeconomic policy coherence can lay the foundation to a higher performance of the Agenda 2030 project portfolio. How can this be brought about and maintained and improved over time to establish a wholly sustainable economy?

This article is the second in the "Economic Policies for Agenda 2030" series.

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Part 1: Resolving policy-based conflicts within Agenda 2030 Sustainable Development Goals

The Development Intelligence Organization (DIO) is working with SEEL and OQSI, respectively the systems engineering economics and standards divisions of the George Boole Foundation, to resolve a conflict linked to different policies that support several SDGs. Based on current conventional policies there is a direct conflict between climate action and sustainable carrying capacity and economic policies. In terms of separating this conflict into two sides there is an aggregation of income disparity, declining carrying capacity, negative outcomes for the climate, water and land ecosystem conservation on one side and economic policies linked to economic growth on the other. We report on the progress towards a solution.

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OQSI TAP-Technological Adaptation Procedures - Optimizing Agenda 2030 project tasks

[20200618] OQSI Press release: The experience gained in the development of the 3CBA project design procedures that address SDG 10, SDG 12 and SDG 13 has resulted in the development of a procedure that helps maximize the coherence of the contributions of combinations of technologies.

Although the 3CBA procedures relate to different objectives, income disparity, sustainable production and consumption and climate impact, the ways and means to maximize impacts vary. TAP-Technological Adaptation Procedures is a set of guidelines to help identify the types of state-of-the-art technologies and techniques that can contribute in each case to optimize at the individual SDG level and then to trade-off these aspects of these optimizations through small adjustments to maximize the combined impact.

DIO-Development Intelligence Organization
Training in the management of SDG 10 to reduce inequalities

[20200618] DIO Press release: DIO has announced their intent to provide training in the appropriate analyses to address SDG 10 (reduction of inequalities). This will include an introduction into the new front in development economics known as the Real Incomes Approach. The Real Incomes Approach, sometimes referred to as Real Incomes Objective, or RIO, provides a specific clarity on the impacts of policies and, indeed, individual project design, on producer and consumer real incomes. It is therefore the most effective basis for analyzing the dynamics of SDG 10. RIO has a set of practical policy instruments to move towards a reduction in disparity while maintaining or increasing real incomes. Conventional development economics has remained a poor sister to conventional macroeconomics and is wholly reliant on the macroeconomic frameworks based on demand management. RIO was developed from the ground up, based on microeconomic principles which do not feature in conventional macroeconomic theory or practice.

The objective of DIO is to provide the macroeconomic context and background to RIO for policy makers to understand how the specific policy instruments can be used to ensure that projects addressing SDG 10 can have more impact while enhancing growth in national incomes with reduced disparity of real incomes.

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Open Quality Standards Initiative introduces 3CBA
A solution SDG 10, SDG 12 and SDG 13 non-performance

The Open Quality Standards Initiative (OQSI) have added three analytical procedures to their due diligence design procedures. These are designed to address the analytical tool gap needed to address the reported failures in the Agenda 2030 SDG project portfolio.

These were identified in the 2019 United Nations Sustainable Development Report. Reducing inequalities (SDG 10), sustainable consumption and production (SDG 12) and climate action (SDG 13) have all turned out to be negatively correlated to economic growth. In addition over 65% of the indicators for SDG 12 and SDG 13 have not yet been specified. The current macroeconomic frameworks are exacerbating the problem of income disparity and growth in real incomes.

We report on a recent press conference outlining these new procedures.

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SDGToolkit launch

[20200602] Editorial:  With the imminent launch of the SDGToolkit cloud-based services, has informed us that many articles related to this system contain inaccuracies as a result of changes and advances made subsequent to their posting. Accordingly all such articles have been removed from this site and will be replaced in due course by updated versions to accompany the launch expected at the end of June, 2020.

Post-Covid-19, low income countries need to terminate their participation in the globe's irrational debt spiral

A virtual workshop to identify critical institutions to help accelerate recovery in the agricultural sectors of low income countries placed the exposure of many low income countries to irrational debt as a major complicating factor. The reports of this two day workshop are divided into day 1 covering important institutional support and day 2 exploring the evolving significant of the major contributions that can be made through remote technical services support delivery.

Read Part 1 - Institutions           Read Part 2 - Cloud-based support

[20200527] APEurope wire:  SciDevNet has posted an article by Gareth Willmer and Fiona Broom, entitled: "SDG setback 'tremendous' as COVID-19 accelerates slide". Its speed read summary states:
  • Fears that 130 million will fall into extreme poverty, food insecurity
  • Pandemic impact comes on top of slow progress towards SDGs
  • COVID-19 outbreak becoming ‘worst human and economic crisis of our lifetimes’
To access click on the SciDev logo on the right.

The economics of adapting to needs to secure the world we want

Credits: World Food Programme, Photo by Gabriela Vivacqua

[20200502] APEurope wire: (based on DIO-Press release) The conventional macroeconomic planning and economic management frameworks have proven to be ineffective in preparing for and managing Covid-19 and the evolving food crisis. Too many countries have slept-walked into this policy paradigm under the guidance of some economists and aid organizations. This system, based on the aggregate demand model (ADM) has significantly eroded savings and, today, openly equates economic growth with debt, which most cannot afford. Income disparity has become the hallmark of such policies both in high and low income countries. In the context of development economics, the critical measure of economic growth is real incomes or the ability of consumers to purchase food at prices that provide sustainable incomes to producers. Accessibility has become the critical issue. The most recent declarations by FAO economists confirm this fact.

The only economic development model that integrates this as a critical factor is the production, accessibility and consumption model (PACM). This model was rejected by Keynes in the 1920s and those who have supported financialization in its various forms, since the 1970s as part of Keynesian, monetarist and supply side economics policies and which have bestowed upon the world four major financial crises. PACM is becoming more generally recognized as a more practical and rational basis upon with to base planning and policies to address the world's development needs.

PACM is the cornerstone of the Real Incomes Approach to Economics which, unlike conventional macroeconomic policies has microeconomic foundations with an emphasis of innovation to address gaps and needs as a basis for economic growth. In agricultural sectors, extension systems are a key service in the support this type of growth.

20200503: In the article entitled: "Some aspects of the OQSI strategy to help close the main gaps in Agenda 2030 performance", the side box entitled, "Assets, the missing QTM variable" has been updated to reflect the current known state of knowledge. Editor.

[20200430] The website Our World in Data has a series that tracks the progress of Agenda 2030 concerning all SDGs providing maps and data of the status of different indicators. To access this site click on the image on the left.

APEurope wire: Concerning World Food Programm, Rome, Press release: The COVID-19 pandemic could almost double the number of people suffering acute hunger, possibly rising to quarter of a billion by the end of 2020. The World Food program has released a new report on food crises around the world. Some 265 million face acute food shortage now in 2020 130 million more than in 2019 as a result of COVID-19 impacts.

WFP’s Chief Economist, Arif Husain said:"COVID-19 is potentially catastrophic for millions who are already hanging by a thread. It is a hammer blow for millions more who can only eat if they earn a wage. Lockdowns and global economic recession have already decimated their nest eggs. It only takes one more shock – like COVID-19 – to push them over the edge. We must collectively act now to mitigate the impact of this global catastrophe."

OQSI updates RRE metrics to improve

[20200424]: The Open Quality Standards Initiative has recently announced that their metric Rate of Return to the Environment as been altered to Rate of Return to the Ecosystem to augment the ability to quantify actual and potential impacts. Apparently, this new focus is not cosmetic since project and survey data throws doubt onto the efficacy of global carbon trading which, in the deficit zones, is resulting in more degradation that is recorded. We have been informed that a press release is in preparation.

What is a cooperative?

Cooperatives play a crucial role in reducing poverty, improving food security and generating employment opportunities. The United Nations declared 2012 the International Year of Cooperatives (IYC) to raise awareness of cooperatives’ important contribution to global socio-economic development and to promote the growth and strengthening of cooperatives all over the world.

SDG Cross-reference resource

The Development Intelligence Organization and the Boolean Library are creating an SDG cross-reference resource of online resources for teams concerned with project and programme design in the context of Agenda 2030. This will provide a complete list of updated resources linked to the OQSI project design and implementation and potfolio management factors.

Some aspects of the OQSI strategy to help close the main gaps in Agenda 2030 performance

The George Boole Foundation provided a question and answer session for Agricultural Innovation which included analysts from SEEL and OQSI. The purpose was to provide additional details on the soon-to-be-released due diligence evaluation criteria and procedures designed to improve project and implementation performance with respect to climate action.

Read more ...

Sustainable Development Report Dashboard shows Africa to be the least SDG compliant continent

Africa faces significant challenges in achieving SDGs according to the latest Sustainable Development Report. Amongst the challenges is incomplete data series as well as capability development in the design and implementations of complex projects, progammes and policies.

In particular the disparity in income levels and population growth rates in the countries of the South East impose significant constraints on their ability to attain Agenda 2030 objectives.
Some current and forthcoming publications referred to, in this edition of Agricultural Innovation, will provide useful input to the necessary strategic analyses required to establish actions on the ground and at policy levels to address the specific issues faced by the countries concerned.


New data series publication, Sustainable Development Prospects - Africa Series 2020

The problems facing Agenda 2030 include several important indicators not having been specified as well as many low income countries not having access to national level data series on some estimates. The Development Intelligence Organization (DIO) is preparing a data series covering global constraints on development in the context of Agenda 2030. These will apply global constraints decision analysis models to provide projections covering all lower income countries in Africa, Central and South America. The release of these publications, released in sequence, is scheduled to begin in February 2020. The Africa Series is divided into five regions of Southern, Central, North Eastern and North Western Africa.

Read more ...

PUBLICATION:   Achieving the 17 Sustainable Development Goals within 9 planetary boundaries

In this study published in the journal Global Sustainability, the results of a new model that measures the effects of going about things in a conventional, business-as-usual scenario assess the likelihood of achieving Sustainable Development Goals. With business-as-usual, the 17 SDGs will not be achieved by 2030 or even 2050. Trying to reach the goals under current business-as-usual will come at a heavy price on the planetary boundaries. In a business-as-usual scenario, 10.5 of the SDGs will be reached by 2030 and only 11.5 by 2050. In order to reach the 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), most sustainability researchers are consistent in their calls for urgent, transformative action.

The world agreed to achieve 17 Sustainable Development Goals by 2030. Nine planetary boundaries set an upper limit to Earth system impacts of human activity in the long run. Conventional efforts to achieve the 14 socio-economic goals will raise pressure on planetary boundaries, moving the world away from the three environmental SDGs. We have created a simple model, Earth3, to measure how much environmental damage follows from achievement of the 14 socio-economic goals, and we propose an index to track effects on people’s wellbeing. Extraordinary efforts will be needed to achieve all SDGs within planetary boundaries.

Access this publication online...

Better production forecasting
Practical solutions to Food Security Strategic reserves policy

SEEL-Systems Engineering Economics Lab is developing a cloud-based analytical tool to emulate crop production response to state-of-the-art farm production regimes taking into account the environmental factors that can cause significant variations in yields. The interesting aspect of this work is it integrates economic factors such as gross margin analysis across agro-ecological conditions thereby providing a considerable amount of additional information of value to those concerend with food security.

Read more ...

Practical solutions to Agenda 2030 performance deficits - OQSI release performance, sustainbility & climate impact criteria

This article has been updated and extended:   Read more ...

The utility of SDG indicators

Click on the cover image to download

The 2019 Global Sustainable Development Report points to significant gaps in the organization of statistical sources through collection, analysis and determination of indicator status. This has resulted in a lack of accessibility to specific indicators, especially in low income countries.

It is stated that the Global Monitoring Network are working to correct this issue. However, after many decades of the collection of statistics by countries that support the United Nations statistical data reporting mechanisms, this points to a significant gap in the preparation for Agenda 2030, especially in the case of lower income countries where some of the factors of most importance to their future sustainability are inadequately monitored.

Read more ...

IRD 75 years of operations

In 2019, IRD celebrated its 75th anniversary. Unique both in terms of its missions and its response model, the Institute highlighted its variety of scientific partnerships with countries of the Global South and its latest work to support development through a range of events organised in mainland and internationally.

IRD – the only multidisciplinary public research body dedicated exclusively to scientific cooperation with developing countries in the tropics and the Mediterranean. The Institute traces its roots back to 1944, when the Office for Colonial Scientific Research (ORSC) was founded, which became the Office for Overseas Scientific and Technical Research (ORSTOM) in 1953 before finally becoming the Research Institute for Sustainable Development (IRD) in 1998. As such, 2019 also marks IRD’s 20th anniversary in its current form.

Click on the cover image to download

Modes of scientific engagement with the Sustainable Development Goals

The Report on Sustainable Development contains a section describing the modes of scientific engagement with SDGs.

We provide a view of this section.

Read more ...

The prospects for smallholders

We look at some of the issues surrounding smallholder survival in the Agenda 2030 period under increasing climatic and economic uncertainty.

FAO brochure on the significance of smallholders

To access this brochure click on the image to the right.

IWSAT 2019 conclusions

The first International Workshop on Analytical Tools (IWSAT) was held in Alexandria, Virgina in the USA over the weekend of 9-11 August, 2019. IWSAT is an initiative of the OQSI (Open Quality Standards Initiative) a programme launched in 2010 by the George Boole Foundation.

Six emerging issues were discussed with the principal one being a focus on sustainability of small production units. We report on the preliminary conclusions of this workshop.

Read more ...

Why Agenda 2030's Sustainable Development Goals are not being met
Part 2:

In 2015 the United Nations launched Agenda 2030 consisting of 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) associated with over 230 indicators. Unlike the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) which addressed specific goals related to low income countries, Agenda 2030 addressed countries of all levels of development.

As reported in Part 1 of this series there are signs that goals are not being met.

In the case of low income countries, there are logical reasons why there are difficulties in meeting objectives. One reason, of relevance to this online publication, is that project and initiative designs need to result in actions that can overcome the principal constraints of population dynamics and inflation. This is principally a supply side issue involving the factors that influence input and output of agricultural production.

This is the topic of this part of this series.

Read more ...

The Production, Accessibility & Consumption Model
Part 1
Step by step

During the last 25 years and, in particular, since the 2008 financial crisis, the combination of population growth rates and inflation have resulted in inequalities in income levels rising. Today the USA and UK have levels of inequality that exceed many low income countries. This extreme is caused by the contrast with the highest incomes that exist in these countries. However, this masks the general fact that those in the lower income segments, in both high and low income countries, have faced an erosion in their purchasing power leading, eventually to destitution. Destitution is the inability to survive on nominal incomes because of insufficient purchasing power to secure essential food requirements. In low income countries the lack of social support mechanisms result in this leading to starvation, poor physical and intellectual development of children, stunting and a radical reduction in life expectancy. In higher income countries the social provisions and food banks that provide free food are common stop gaps. Many using food banks in "developed economies" are in work, but their real incomes are insufficient.

The PAC Model, a the supply side Production, Accessibility & Consumption Model of the economy provides a transparent explanation of why this happens. This calls attention to the need for macroeconomic policies that have a more effective control over inflation and population policies to encourage reductions in the rate of growth.

Read more ...

Why Agenda 2030's Sustainable Development Goals are not being met

Why is this series being extended?

Lead editorial   Read more ...

Why Agenda 2030's Sustainable Development Goals are not being met?
Part 1:

In 2015 the United Nations launched Agenda 2030 consisting of 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) associated with over 230 indicators. Unlike the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) which addressed specific goals related to low income countries, Agenda 2030 addressed countries of all levels of development.

After only four years, the United Nations has asked an expert group to assess progress. For such an ambitious task for goals to be met by 2030 - 11 years to go - four years is a bit early. However, there are signs that goals are not being met.

Reviewing the SDGs it is evident that there are some gaps and, indeed, some confusions.

In the case of low income countries, there are logical reasons why there are difficulties in meeting objectives. One reason, of relevance to this online publication, is that project and initiative designs need to result in actions that can overcome the principal constraints of population dynamics and inflation. This is principally a supply side and real incomes issue.

Read more ...

DAC Evaluation Criteria and stakeholders

Recently a summary of a stakeholder consultation completed on the OECD DAC evaluation criteria for development assistance, was posted on the OECD website. This provides a list of factors considered to merit additional consideration in the DAC environment. These include taking Sustainable Development Goal requirements more into account, acknowledging the complexity of decision analysis and the need for systems models which represent the interconnection of relevant factors. Another area requiring change was cited to be the application of evaluation criteria to policy, programmes, institutional and strategic evaluations and systems. Cross-cutting themes on gender, equity and human rights were also mentioned. The last item referred to the need for support to provide stronger guidance for project implementation. Although not receiving strong feed back for change, rather the reverse, this list of items indicates an urgent need for specific changes.

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DAC Evaluation Criteria in the face of divergence

There has been a significant change in the types of projects funded under international aid. Although many consider the DAC evaluation criteria to be a good shortlist of esstential tests, the ability to apply them can be frustrated by a project's' objectives and design. This gives rise to doubts as to the efficacy of these criteria. This has created confusion and muddled thinking. The reason DAC evaluation criteria can become difficult to apply is that an increasing number of projects are divergent. Projects with more predictable outcomes are convergent and can be tested directly by DAC criteria. This raises the question as to why funding agencies are investing in, sometimes large, divergent projects which are difficult to evaluate and unlikely to achieve stated objectives?

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Report: International Symposium on Agricultural Innovation (ISAI) , FAO, November 2018

We are pleased to report on the completion of the FAO ISAI as an important event for agricultural innovation. We will be reporting on the main points raised and providing our own critiques from our technical panels in the coming weeks. We are currently in the process of preparing posts as well as releases from the Symposium.

The symposium concept note (June 2018)

Symposium Chair's summary (November 2018)

Issues concerning SDGs and the emergence of practical solutions

According to OQSI, project managers, assessors and evaluators have reported problems with the handling of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in relating project activities to a large range of factors that need to be taken into account to meet these Goals.

We report on the OQSI's response and approach to extending their Due Diligence Design Procedure (3DP).


can result
in significant
Agricultural project cycle management inefficiencies

A surprising proportion of agricultural project cycle management "systems" are extremely inefficient in terms of maintaining information quality, timeliness of decisions, control of costs and overall oversight throughout the project cycle.There is a significant gap in performance between existing W3 technological capabilities and the the disproportionate use of old legacy programs and applications that impede the attainment of satisfactory levels of performance. We report on some recent findings.


The International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) provides research-based policy solutions to sustainably reduce poverty and end hunger and malnutrition in developing countries. Established in 1975, IFPRI currently has more than 600 employees working in over 50 countries. It is a research center of CGIAR, a worldwide partnership engaged in agricultural research for development.

Decision-Focused Agricultural Research

In this article, on the solutions journal, Eike Luedeling and Keith Shepherd, explain that with agriculture providing most of our food and many other products, agricultural decision-makers from farmers to agricultural ministers, should consider all of the multiple trade-offs between the factors that determine output, but this rarely happens. Many of agriculture’s products and services are regularly ignored in decision-making, mainly because they are difficult to appraise. This easily leads to decisions with adverse side effects, such as land degradation, pollution, or loss of cultural heritage. Decision analysis provides decision support that consider factors that are difficult to quantify. It recognizes that rational decisions do not normally require precise information on all factors of interest. Decision Analysis harnesses the knowledge of system experts to produce a high-level model of a decision, which reflects the best available information on plausible decision impacts. Decision Analysis helps solve the problem of data gaps, which has often prevented research from comprehensively forecasting decision impacts. It also allows explicit consideration of risks and variability.

The article presents some examples of applications of Decision Analysis in agricultural development, demonstrating its ability to secure understanding of likely decision impacts, in the face of risk and imperfect information.


How much development data is enough?

In this article, Keith D. Shepherd sets out his reasoning that the data revolution offers enormous potential for improving decision-making at every level of development policy.

He also elaborates why gathering data is not enough; the information must also be managed and evaluated – and doing this properly can be far more complicated than the effort to collect it.


Innovation in Food and Agriculture

Effective agricultural knowledge and innovation systems ensure that the global food system provides adequate supplies of high quality food and non-food agricultural products, in a sustainable way. OECD work on innovation systems in food and agriculture explores the relationships between innovation, productivity and sustainability, and examines the respective roles for the government and the private sector in strengthening agricultural innovation systems and facilitating adoption at the farm and agri-food firm level.

As part of this work, a framework has been developed to review the impacts of a wide range of policies on the creation and adoption of innovations needed to improve productivity growth and sustainable use of natural resources, leading to concrete recommendations for each policy area. This framework is being applied to an increasing number of pilot countries and will be regularly revised to reflect new evidence and experience with implementation of these country reviews of “Innovation for agricultural productivity and sustainability”.

In parallel, quantitative analysis is being conducted to improve the evidence base for policy recommendations within the framework. Work with farm-level data aims to analyse the economic, policy and structural determinants of sustainable productivity growth, starting with the dairy sector.

Access to OECD publications on Innovation in Food & Agriculture

Two foundations team up to improve the quality of agricultural innovation through new service

Addressing the agricultural research-to-innovation challenge in low income countries

Two foundations have announced their agreement to provide a new service to improve the quality of agricultural innovation. The STRIDES Foundation and Navatec - a division of The George Boole Foundation - will collaborate on a new extension service that supports low income country researchers improve their knowledge acquisition on research and secure a better management of agricultural innovation projects. This collaboration is a culmination of over 45 years experience in the field of agricultural development and in particular agricultural research, project proposal assessment, project design, implementation management and evaluation. This experience has been gained in South America, Africa, Asia and transition economies in Central and Southern Europe.

This initiative addresses the important issue of poor project performance affecting around 50% of economic development projects. In 2016 the total aid budget from government and international agencies totalled some $135 billion and private donors contributed an additional $85 billion. Additional analyses undertaken more recently have come up with similar rates of project failure. Based on a weighted calculation of existing rates of project failure it is estimated that out of this total of $220 billion in international investment, somewhere between $35 billion and $70 billion will be wasted.

Read more ....

Partnering to effectively strengthen whole value chains:
The focus of the Global Program for Grain Legumes & Dryland Cereals

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia (17 February, 2018)

As part of the CGIAR Research Program on Grain Legumes and Dryland Cereals (GLDC) initiative over 150 participants from 25 countries met to identify better supportive partnering models. Dr Peter Carberry, Director of GLDC, explained that the Program’s approach is how it can add value to what is already being undertaken. Ethiopia’s Minister of Agriculture and Natural Resources, H.E. Dr. Eyasu Abraha Alle, who inaugurated GLDC, noted that, “grain legumes and dryland cereals are what have been termed as ‘Smart Food’ because they are: Good for you, Good for the planet, and Good for the farmer. However, they have received less attention and their value chains have not been as well developed. Through GLDC, we will build this whole industry from the consumer end and also develop the food processing industry and connect this right back to the farmers.” He added that, “Grain legumes and dryland cereals are well adapted to the drylands and naturally nutritious. I challenge the CRP to come up with a strategy for the drylands of Ethiopia. GLDC’s vision is to deliver improved rural livelihoods and nutrition by prioritizing demand-driven innovations to increase production and market opportunities along value chains. The program supports research for development purposes on six legumes (chickpea, cowpea, pigeonpea, groundnut, lentil and soybean) and three cereals (sorghum, pearl millet and finger millet). It will focus on the semi-arid and sub-humid dryland agro-ecologies of sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. The Program is a partnership of CGIAR centers, public and private organizations, governments and farmers worldwide.

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An innovation system is....

An innovation system is therefore a network of organizations within an economic system that are directly involved in the creation, diffusion and use of scientific and technological knowledge, as well as the organizations responsible for the coordination and support of these processes. Based on Dosi G. ‘The Nature of the Innovative Process’. In: Soete L. Technical Change and Economic Theory (Pinter Publishers, London, 1988, p222).
Agricultural Innovation Systems (AIS)
What is an innovation system and what does it do?

An innovation system is about people, the knowledge, technology, infrastructure and cultures they have created or learned, who they work with, and what new ideas they are experimenting with.

The approach represents a major change in the way that the production of knowledge is viewed, and thus supported. It shifts attention away from research and the supply of science and technology, towards the whole process of innovation, in which research is only one element. Innovation is essentially the result of an interactive process between many actors. For our work, those are farmers, extension workers, researchers, seed companies, government officials, and many others. Individual organizations rarely possess all the knowledge necessary for the whole process of innovation.

It does not follow a linear path that begins with research, moves through the processes of development, design and engineering, and production, and ends with the successful introduction of new products and processes. Rather, it tends to involve continuous feedback loops between the different stages.

The actors we are engaged with focus on bringing new products, new processes, new policies, and new forms of organization into economic use. In their attempts to bring about change in agriculture, these multiple stakeholders are all part of what may be seen as agricultural innovation systems (AIS).

Read more

Innovation for Agriculture

Innnovation for Agriculture (IFA) is an English organization helping farmers make best use of existing and emerging knowledge… to help them meet the challenge of feeding the world and to improve the environment and animal welfare; creating fulfilling opportunities for current and future generations.

IFA is a consortium of English Agricultural Societies bringing you the latest developments in New Science & Technology. The members include: Devon County Agricultural Association, Royal Cheshire Agricultural Society, Driffield Agricultural Society, East of England Agricultural Society, Lincolnshire Agricultural Society, Newark and Nottinghamshire Agricultural Society, Newbury and District Agricultural Society, Staffordshire and Birmingham Agricultural Society, Suffolk Agricultural Association, Surrey County Agricultural Society, The Royal Agricultural Society of England, The Royal Bath and West of England Society, The Royal Cornwall Agricultural Association, The South of England Agricultural Society, The Three Counties Agricultural Society and Westmorland County Agricultural Society
To visit their site click on the image above.

Cranfield University & Agricultural Innovation

As a postgraduate only, research-intensive university, Cranfield is a British university that is post-graduate only and research-intensive. Their work is designe to deliver advanced solutions applying scientific expertise to the current and future challenges faced by agribusiness and our farming landscape. In 2013, the UK Government launched its Agricultural technologies strategy and invested some £10m in two new Centres for Agricultural Innovation at Cranfield. These are Agri-EPI, the Agricultural Engineering Precision Innovation Centre and CHAP, Crop Health and Protection. These combine Cransifeld's research and development capabilities in agriculture, in various configurations, to address the importance of soil resources, sensing and analysis of big-data. To visit their site click on the Cranfield logo.

Energy 4 Impact is a non-profit organisation working with local businesses to extend access to energy in Africa, impacting the quality of life for millions of people. Growing sustainable clean energy markets improves livelihoods and accelerates economic growth. They work in East and West Africa and operate from regional offices as well as our head office in London. The executive team reports to a Board of Trustees comprising private sector and development experts in renewable energy technology, energy policy, finance and investment.

Energy 4 Impact, formerly known as GVEP International, was registered as a UK charity in 2007. It evolved from a partnership between the World Bank, UNDP and other bi-lateral donors, launched at the World Summit for Sustainable Development in Johannesburg, South Africa in 2002. To visit the site click on the logo on the right.

About 3ie

The International Initiative for Impact Evaluation (3ie) is an international grant-making NGO promoting evidence-informed development policies and programmes. We are the global leader in funding, producing and synthesising high-quality evidence of what works, for whom, how, why and at what cost. We believe that using better and policy-relevant evidence helps to make development more effective and improve people’s lives.

3ie evidence gap maps

Evidence gap maps (EGMs) aim to inform funding and research decision-making by compiling existing research accessibly in one place in a way that also shows limitations and gaps.

These maps are based on systematic methods to identify and describe completed and ongoing impact evaluations and systematic reviews. EGMs are structured around a framework of interventions and outcomes and include an interactive map that highlights areas with extensive, limited or non-existent evidence. They provide an overview of evidence on the effects of policies and programmes in a particular sector or thematic area. EGMs are available through an online interactive platform on the 3ie website that allows users to explore the full studies and reviews that are included.

About this evidence gap map report

This report provides the supporting documentation for the online EGM map on agricultural innovation developed to inform current 3ie grant-making in this area. The 3ie Agricultural Innovation grant programme is funded by UK aid through the Department for International Development, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the International Fund for Agricultural Development and the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa.

Click on the report image to access

Excerpt from introduction....

Agriculture is the main source of income and employment for 70 per cent of the world’s rural population (ILO 2016). Despite this, in 2014 there were only 0.19 hectares of arable land per person, thereby failing to provide farmers with sufficient opportunities to increase their productivity and income (Alexandratos and Bruinsma 2012). The depletion and degradation of agricultural land and global water supplies are serious challenges that affect the sustainability of many farmers’ livelihoods. In regions such as South Asia, East Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa, the effects of low agricultural production can be seen strongly affecting both food security and household well-being.

The World Bank’s World development report 2008: agriculture for development highlighted the importance of the agriculture sector in international development, encouraging opportunities for economic growth, food security, poverty reduction, sustainable land management, climate change mitigation, and overall improvement in the livelihoods of smallholder farmers in low- and middle-income countries (L&MICs). The report stated that a developing country’s gross domestic product (GDP) growth, if originating from agriculture, is four times more likely to be effective in reducing poverty than other forms of domestic income (Byerlee et al. 2008). Policies that foster higher productivity and encourage climate-smart agriculture can have substantial sustainable impacts on poverty alleviation, food security and improved well-being, particularly for smallholder farmers (Asfaw et al. 2014).

Innovations in the field of agricultural production are key in helping determine best practices and technologies to help improve farmers’ livelihoods. Although many agricultural technologies are being created continuously, the effective dissemination of knowledge remains a challenge that inherently affects the productivity of many rural farmers. Farmers’ lack of access to resources and infrastructure, as well as a lack of capacity to support local agricultural production, can lead to unstable rural economies and declines in farmers’ well-being.

Improving agricultural innovations and technologies in developing countries is of paramount importance, as it offers new opportunities for increased agricultural production and income sustainability (Feder et al. 1985). In an analysis of the intersection between agriculture and development (Dethier and Effenberger 2012), the authors identify two challenges that hamper the sustainable growth of the agriculture sector in developing countries: the need for increased food productivity and the volatility of food prices. Thus, many agricultural innovations aim at targeting factors that contribute to improving production and quelling volatile markets. This includes improving access to credit and market information and land tenure security, encouraging diverse employment, and increasing supplies of complementary inputs (fertilisers and seeds) and infrastructures (irrigation and roads) (Feder et al. 1985).

Agricultural innovation
is the key
to overcoming
rural poverty
and to ensure that
there is enough food
at accessible prices
for everybody...

The UK Government's Strategy for Agricultural Technologies has an objective of accelerating growth in the agricultural technology sector by funding four Centres for Agricultural Innovation that aim to advance the development, adoption and exploitation of new technologies in the agri-food sector.

Agrimetrics, is the first of four Agri-Tech Centres and is set up as:
  • An independent, not-for-profit centre
  • Partnership between four Founder Partners: Rothamsted Research, The University of Reading, National Institute of Agricultural Botany (NIAB) and SRUC, Scotland’s Rural College
  • Expertise and capabilities in data science, smart analytics, bio-informatics, translational research and knowledge exchange in crops, livestock and food, and sustainability.
Read more....

The Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB)

The Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) is a statutory levy board, funded by UK farmers, growers and others in the supply chain and managed as an independent organization (independent of both commercial industry and of Government). The stated purpose of AHDB is to inspire UK farmers, growers and industry to succeed in a rapidly changing world. Their vision is for a world-class food and farming industry inspired by, and competing with the best.

AHDB believe that they can achieve their vision by focusing their efforts on four key priorities:
  • Inspiring British farming and growing to be more competitive and resilient
  • Accelerating innovation and productivity growth through coordinated R&D and knowledge exchange
  • Helping the industry understand and deliver what consumers will trust and buy
  • Delivering thought leadership and horizon scanning.
Read more....

Common Framework on Capacity Development for Agricultural Innovation Systems

The Tropical Agricultual Plan (TAP) is an action plan to develop capacity for agricultural innovation systems. This is supported by the Common Framework on Capacity Development for Agricultural Innovation Systems (CDAIS) an EU-funded action supported by the Food and Agriculture Organization of UN and AgriNatura.This programme has a TAPipedia or knowledge base which is worth visiting. To visit this section click on the TAPipedia image.

The TAP document describing the CDAIS, explains why this group consider agricultural innovation to be important as follows:

"In the context of a growing world population and climate change, agricultural innovation has a high potential to increase farmers’ income, improve food security and allow for a sustainable management of natural resources. As agriculture increasingly involves complex interactions of environmental and socio-economic factors with stakeholders at multiple levels, innovation needs an Agricultural Innovation Systems (AIS) perspective. The AIS comprises four main components: research and education, business and enterprise, bridging institutions, and the enabling environment"".

The pilot countries included in the Common Framework include:
  • Angola
  • Bangladesh
  • Bukino Faso
  • Ethiopia
  • Guatemala
  • Honduras
  • Laos
  • Rwanda
Read more....

To visit the CDAIS website , click on the image on the right

Agricultural Innovation Systems : An Investment Sourcebook

This World Bank sourcebook draws on the emerging principles of Agricultural Innovation System (AIS) analysis and action to help to identify, design, and implement the investments, approaches, and complementary interventions that appear most likely to strengthen innovation systems and promote agricultural innovation and equitable growth. Although the sourcebook discusses why investments in AISs are becoming so important, it gives most of its attention to how specific approaches and practices can foster innovation in a range of contexts.

The sourcebook is targeted to the key operational staff in international and regional development agencies and national governments who design and implement lending projects and to the practitioners who design thematic programs and technical assistance packages. The sourcebook is also an important resource for the research community and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and may be a useful reference for the private sector, farmer organizations, and individuals with an interest in agricultural innovation. It concludes with details on the sourcebook's structure, a summary of the themes covered in each module, and a discussion of the cross-cutting themes treated throughout the sourcebook.

To secure a copy of this publication click on the image on the right.

10 Innovations for Climate Action in Agriculture

The Consultative Group for International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) is a global research partnership for a food-secure future. CGIAR science is dedicated to reducing poverty, enhancing food and nutrition security, and improving natural resources and ecosystem services. Its research is carried out by 15 CGIAR Research Centers in close collaboration with hundreds of partners, including national and regional research institutes, civil society organizations, academia, development organizations and the private sector.

Agriculture needs to produce 60 percent more food by 2050 to feed a growing population, and these production increases need to occur even as the impacts of climate change are becoming evident in crop, livestock and fisheries systems globally. However, agriculture also contributes 19-29 percent of global man-made greenhouse gas emissions and will need to reduce emissions by 2030 in order to achieve the global goal of limiting warming to 2o Celsius. The CGIAR site lists the following to be the 10 Best Bet Innovations for Adaptation in Agriculture developed by their scientists (click to access):
  1. Agroforestry to diversify farms and capture carbon

  2. Aquaculture to enhance nutrition and diversify incomes

  3. Stress tolerant varieties to counter climate change

  4. Improving smallholder dairy enhanced incomes and greater climate resilience

  5. Alternate wetting and drying in rice systems

  6. Micro-irrigation powered by solar, expanding access to affordable irrigation and enhancing resilience

  7. Digital agriculture from tailored advice to shared value with millions of farmers

  8. Climate-informed advisories to enhance production and resilience

  9. Weather index-based agricultural insurance for countries and farmers

  10. Blended finance