Reduced rural poverty
From the perspective of a donor with a long track record of investing their international development budget in the CGIAR, perhaps the most important question to ask is: what are the economic benefits to farmers, consumers and people in developing countries to this history of investment? The methodology traditionally used to answer this question is cost-benefit analysis aggregated across economic units (i.e., producers, consumers, processors, etc.) in a geographically defined boundaries (i.e., state, country, continent or global).
In the case of agricultural research, the input to an economic cost-benefit analysis comprises estimates of the benefits to producers (in the case of productivity-increasing technologies this is via a reduction in the unit cost of production) and consumers (via a reduction in the price of the commodity in the market). In the case of productivity enhancing agricultural technologies that are adopted at large scale, most of the economic benefit goes to the consumers. Note however, that in many countries, particularly in Sub-Saharan Africa, smallholder producers are actually net purchasers of food, and so they benefit from lower food prices as consumers.
A synthesis of a number of cost-benefit analyses (Raitzer, 2003) pooled benefit estimates at the system level, and demonstrated that the CGIAR system as a whole delivers positive Net Present Value (NPV). Under the most conservative assumptions on attributing benefits to specific agricultural technologies, the CGIAR returns around $2 US in benefits for every $1 invested in it. This ratio increases significantly when the conservative assumptions are relaxed to allow for a greater pool of benefits.
Some examples of studies assessing the "reduction in rural poverty" impact of CGIAR research:
Peanut research and poverty reduction: Impacts of variety improvement to control peanut viruses in Uganda2007
The Contribution of IFPRI Research and the Impact of the Food for Education Program in Bangladesh on School Outcomes and Earnings.2004
The impact of research-led agricultural productivity growth on poverty reduction in Africa, Asia, and Latin America.2003
An Integrated Economic and Social Analysis to Assess the Impact of Vegetable and Fishpond Technologies on Poverty in Rural Bangladesh.2003