Improved food security
The relationship between agricultural technology and a range of social issues important in developing countries (poverty, food security, nutrition, women’s empowerment) is very complex. Once technologies have been adopted on some scale, questions emerge regarding the distributional consequences – between producers and consumers; between some group of producers and another group (e.g. irrigated vs. rainfed farms; or producers in China vs. producers in Nigeria); between producers and the labourers on their farms; between men and women.
Typically these effects are mediated through markets – for the agricultural commodity in question or for labour – and are thus economic questions with social implications. Other kinds of impacts are not mediated through the market – such as effects that are determined by decision-making within the household or community.
All of these issues are context dependent, where scale, place and time all matter. A good body of theory can help us lay out specific hypothesises about the nature of these relationships (strong or weak; positive or negative - see for example this framework paper by Kerr and Kolavalli, 1999 - pdf) but there is no substitute for careful impact assessment in case-studies of particular combinations of research output by country.
There have been rather few rigorous studies on the poverty impacts of agricultural research to date, but it is a priority area for SPIA in the coming years and there is a two-year study on-going. For more details see the Studies in Progress pages.
Some examples of studies assessing food security impacts from CGIAR research:
The impact of a nutrition and health programme on the socio-economic status and food access of households in Suba District, Kenya.2009
Status of and Threats to On-farm Agro-biodiversity and its Impact on Rural Livelihoods in Dry Areas of West Asia.2008
Endogenous technology adoption and household food security: the case of improved cowpea varieties in northern Nigeria.2006
Adoption of crossbred cow technologies and increased food security among smallholder dairy farmers in the East African highlands.2002