International food policy think-thank team tours Central Asia on scoping mission

Date: 20.10.2013.

The IFPRI team visits a farmer on his land in the Kyrgyz Republic. Photo by Kamiljon Akramov.

A team of researchers from the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) in Washington, DC, traveled to Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan from 7 to 19 October 2013. This was the first IFPRI mission under its new Agricultural Policy and Food Security in Central Asia program, which is funded by the Russian Federation through its contribution to Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) Fund. Two CGIAR Research Programs (CRP) – Policies, Institutions and Markets (PIM, CRP2) and Agriculture for Nutrition and Health (A4NH, CRP4) – also participate in supporting this research and capacity strengthening program. The activities under this program will cover a wide range of issues related to food security, including economic growth and investment options, agriculture and structural transformation, climate change impacts, food safety and value chains, agriculture-nutrition linkages, and labour migration and remittances.

In the implementation of this three-year program, IFPRI is planning to collaborate with the Eurasian Center for Food Security at Moscow State University, and regional and national research institutions in Central Asia. During the recent mission, the IFPRI team met with diverse stakeholders in the region, including government agencies, national research institutions, international organizations, and local governments and farmers. The goals of these meetings were to assess the agricultural development and food security landscape in the region, and determine where IFPRI can make meaningful contributions to fill existing knowledge gaps related to agricultural development and food and nutrition security. IFPRI is planning to establish mutually beneficial partnerships with regional and national research institutions in Central Asia to make contributions to strengthen their capacity in economywide modeling, analysis of the impact of climate change on agriculture and food security, and applied econometric analysis.

In Tajikistan, the IFPRI team held meetings with the Ministry of Agriculture, Agency on Statistics under the President, Tajik Academy of Agricultural Sciences, Institute of Agricultural Economics, Research Center 'Sharq' and several development partners, such as Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), World Food Programme (WFP), US Agency for International Development (USAID) and the German Society for International Cooperation (GIZ), involved in agriculture and food security activities in the country. The team also traveled to Khatlon Region in the south of the country, where it visited two local jamoats (communities), water users association, and local marketplaces and met with local farmers.

In Uzbekistan, the IFPRI team met with the Ministry of Agriculture and Water Resources, as well as two national economic research institutes, including the Institute of Forecasting and Macroeconomic Research (IFMR) and Center for Economic Research (CER). It also met with representatives of the World Bank, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA), International Water Management Institute, Central Asia and the Caucasus Association of Agricultural Research Institutions (CACAARI), AVRDC - The World Vegetable Center, and the US Embassy. The team also traveled to Kashkadarya Region in the south of the country with ICARDA's Dr Aziz Nurbekov, where they spent a day at the Scientific Research Institute for Breeding and Seed Production for Cereal Crops, visiting its research facilities, touring trial farm sites, and meeting with local farmers. IFPRI is currently in talks with the Institute of Forecasting and Macroeconomic Research about the next steps in moving its research and capacity strengthening activities forward.

In Kyrgyzstan, the IFPRI team had meetings at the Prime Minister's office (Agro-industry, and Economics and Investment divisions), Ministry of Agriculture, Ministry of Economy, National Committee on Statistics, and the National Academy of Sciences. The team also met with representatives of the University of Central Asia, the World Bank and Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA). It also spent one day outside of Bishkek, meeting with local government officials and water users association representatives, visiting crop and livestock farmers, and touring a health clinic.

The Program Facilitation Unit of the CGIAR Regional Program in Tashkent, Tajik Academy of Agricultural Sciences, and Center for Science Methodology and Social Research of the National Academy of Sciences of the Kyrgyz Republic provided organizational and logistical support for the IFPRI mission. Currently, the IFPRI team is working with various research institutes and individual researchers in Central Asia to develop detailed research plans. It is also discussing opportunities for capacity strengthening and training activities with selected institutions in the region.

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