ANNUAL REPORT Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Food Security, Policy Research, Capacity and Influence October 2020 - September 2021DOWNLOAD
January 31, 2022 - Author: David Tschirley
During Year 2, the Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Food Security Policy Research, Capacity, & Influence (PRCI) consolidated its operations under the continuing limitations imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic. As the year ended, the Lab was beginning to see the reduction of COVID risks that could allow it to re-start travel and enter a new, hybrid phase of operations that promises even greater efficiency and effectiveness in what we do.
PRCI exceeded targets in all five of the indicators for which targets had been set for Year 2. In addition, the Lab achieved five institutional architecture milestones and had 18 studies in phase 1 of policy development (“under research”) and 11 in Phase 3 (“made available for update”).
The Lab completed its first cohorts of mentored research and training under the Core Center program and under the STAAARS+ fellowship program. A new STAAARS+ competition was held, four new teams of fellows were selected, and mentors and co-mentors were assigned to each. Mentors for cohort 2 expanded to include representatives from all three stateside PRCI partners: Cornell, MSU, and IFPRI.
For cohort 2 Core Center technical training, program leaders conducted a qualitative needs assessment and began laying out a technical training program that responded to these needs while taking advantage of the publicly accessible material developed for cohort 1.
Buy-ins were a major story for PRCI in Year 2. The Lab wrapped-up its buy-in with the Mozambique mission with a report that was very well received and that the mission made available to every bidder on its agricultural and nutrition sector RFAs. The Lab received research-oriented buy-ins of $500,000 each from the RFS Center for Nutrition for work (being done in collaboration with Tegemeo Institute and other partners) on food systems and nutrition, and from the Center for Resilience for work (shared with IFPRI) on policies and programmatic investments to promote resilience to climate change. As the year was closing, two buy-ins, each for $1 million, were received. One featured joint funding from the Center for Resilience and the Africa Bureau for CACCI – the Comprehensive Africa Climate Change Initiative that will build capacity and spur action on the ground to help African countries respond to their climate commitments under the Paris Agreement while increasing the resilience of their food and agricultural value chains. The second $1 million buy-in was from the USAID/Malawi mission to continue previous support under other funding to MwAPATA, a local policy research center started two years ago with technical support from MSU. This set of buy-ins will dramatically increase PRCI’s research footprint.
PRCI’s partners in Asia and Africa increased their capacity and extended their reach for policy influence and building of capacity in their region, both key goals of PRCI. PRCI saw a big advance in its Asia training and research during Year 2. Professionals from five centers (in India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Thailand, and Laos) used the training they had received on trade flow analysis at the end of Year 1 to develop research papers (all nearly finalized by the end of Year 2 but posted publicly only at the beginning of Year 3) on locally decided topics.
Kasetsart University (KU) in Thailand played a major role in the training, beginning the process of extending its engagement regionally – a key objective of KU under PRCI and in keeping with the Lab’s approach of “building capacity to build capacity”. KU also began planning, with PRCI support, a second step in its regional outreach – leading the preparation of a regional conference in May 2022 that draws on those involved in PRCI research and beyond.
ReNAPRI saw a major rise in its profile on the continent thanks in part to PRCI support. The strategic planning that PRCI supported in Year 1 segued to detailed research planning at the start of Year 2. With an effective Secretariat in place due to PRCI financial support, ReNAPRI was able to serve as co-leader of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA’s) 2021 African Agricultural Status Report (AASR), as co-leader of preparations for the Abuja II summit of fertilizer and soil health, and as leader of an AGRA-sponsored study of policy responses to the COVID-19 pandemic finished by the end of 2020. As the year was closing, ReNAPRI was chosen as a co-lead, with AKADEMIYA2063 and under the auspices of the African Union Commission, of CACCI.
As a result of its strategic planning under PRCI’s institutional capacity strengthening effort (PICA), CPEEL in Nigeria was able to realize the vision it first laid out in its winning proposal to PRCI in year 1 to launch PiLAF – the Innovation Lab for Policy Leadership in Agriculture and Food Security as a unit within CPEEL focusing on the food and agriculture sector. PiLAF launched its activities with extensive structured engagement with stakeholders in the country’s poultry value chain as a precursor to research it is planning in that area.
Capping off the institutional strengthening portion of PRCI’s work, the Lab wrapped-up the intensive phase of the PICA Process, working with all three CPLs to finalize their strategic plans and budgets. Full funding based on this work was put I place for all three CPLs early in Year 3.