Donor methods to prioritise investments in agricultural research and development

Global Donor Platform for Rural Development
Synthesis Paper 28 September 2012


Questions for donors
• How to decide between research and non-research activities • How to prioritise research activities • Research resource budget usually set without analyzing efficiency of research versus other investments

Problems for donors

• No formalized priority-setting process Public and private donors resort to ad hoc decision processes

Systematise the prioritising process
• Five-step process: 1. Identify goals 2. Specify alternatives 3. Project contributions of topics to the goals 4. Consider tradeoffs 5. Compare priorities to current portfolio, vet changes against political acceptability

Contract with appropriate groups to project impacts
• If donors lack the internal capacity to directly apply quantitative priority setting tools

Insist the CGIAR do more priority setting
• Because most resources are directed at CG system • Might be led by Standing Panel on Impact Assessment (SPIA)


Use accepted theory and available information
• Instead of following political tendency for new programs

Use quantitative tools when practical and credible
• Varying for research fields − e.g. economic surplus and benefit cost analyses; sample size; mortality rate; technology adoption

Ensure that methods help lead to results in farmers' fields
• Mix long- and shortterm research • Coordinate with incountry offices • Obtain input from field offices • Diffuse research results • Include social scientists in research programs who study constraints to adoption 4

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