The International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) launched a new project, Global Futures for Agriculture, to improve agricultural productivity and environmental sustainability in developing countries. Focused on evaluating promising technologies, investments, and policy reforms, the effort is supported with major funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Preserving resources

High global food prices in 2008 underscored the importance of research to help achieve the goals of feeding the world's burgeoning population while protecting critical natural resources.

“Sustainable agricultural growth in developing countries is challenged as never before — by climate change, increasingly volatile food and energy markets, natural resource exploitation, and a growing population with aspirations for a better standard of living.

“This research will prove invaluable to setting priorities for meeting these challenges and, ultimately, improving the lives of the world's poorest people,” said Mark Rosegrant, Director of Environment and Production Technology at IFPRI.

The project will enable researchers to develop an enhanced version of IFPRI's International Model for Policy Analysis of Agricultural Commodities and Trade (IMPACT), a state-of-the-art economic model that projects the future production, consumption, and trade of key agricultural commodities, and can assess the effects of climate change, water availability and other major trends.

Improvements to the IMPACT model will make it possible to more effectively evaluate potential research expenditures and their impact on the world's most important crops, forests, and livestock.

More focus

The research will focus on regions most vulnerable to global changes in the next 30 to 50 years, with special attention on the rural poor and smallholder farmers.

Additionally, it will consider how these trends affect developing countries' progress towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals of reducing hunger, malnutrition, and poverty.

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