Discussion paper: A systematic review of cross-country data initiatives on agricultural public expenditures in developing countries


by Evgeniya Anisimova

One of the most important instruments that developing and transitioning countries possess to achieve the transformation of their economies through meeting key development outcomes and impacts, especially where the agricultural sector plays a key role, is efficient and effective agricultural public expenditures (AgPEs), coupled with a conducive policy environment and dynamic private investments. Practitioners and policy makers increasingly recognize that public investment in agriculture is a key determinant of productivity growth, essential to meeting the demands on and the strategic role of the sector. To ensure much-needed improvements in resource allocation decisions and complementary policy decisions, it is vital for these countries and development partners to possess sound and adequate databases that will enable appropriate types of evidenced-based AgPE analysis. Such resources also need to be complemented by other types of analyses and interventions to enhance the policy environment and stimulate private-sector investment flows to the sector.

A number of data initiatives exist that assemble and make available public expenditure data on agriculture, in addition to other variables. Several of these data initiatives overlap in terms of which types of agricultural public expenditure they capture, for which years, and in which countries. Using these different datasets to conduct descriptive or more technical analyses could produce differing results, and thus could possibly lead to different conclusions for public policy and public investment. It is therefore important to be aware of what these data initiatives are and where they relate to one another and where they differ, and to reflect on how analysts and policy makers can make informed judgments based on the different databases.

new study just released as an IFPRI discussion paper reviews all of the relevant data and analytical initiatives or activities that focus on or include agricultural public expenditure (AgPE) in developing and transitioning countries. In addition to taking stock of such initiatives, authors carry out a comparison of relevant features, describe differences and similarities, and identify possible avenues for greater collaboration and complementarity, including the use of selected empirical examples arising from the comparative review.

This review began its life at a workshop organized by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and the CGIAR Research Program on Policies, Institution, and Markets (PIM) led by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) in June 2013. The workshop intended to discuss options for a coordinated approach to developing technical standards for measuring agricultural policy indicators. A first full draft of this review was finalized and widely disseminated in November 2013 to relevant stakeholders in the development community, including to all managers of the different initiatives reviewed. The new paper significantly expands on the earlier analysis and updates the comparative review of the state of all data and analytical initiatives (DAIs) as of the end of March 2016. This update was warranted in light of the dramatic changes and improvements in various aspects of several DAIs, especially in 2015 and 2016. Based on well-specified criteria, 13 ongoing data collection and analytical initiatives/programs were identified for this review.

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Citation: Anson, Richard and Mogues, Tewodaj. 2016. A systematic review of cross-country data initiatives on agricultural public expenditures in developing countries. IFPRI Discussion Paper 1541. Washington, D.C.: International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI). http://ebrary.ifpri.org/cdm/ref/collection/p15738coll2/id/130452

This work was undertaken as a part of, and funded by, the CGIAR Research Program on Policies, Institutions, and Markets, which is led by IFPRI, and funded by the CGIAR Fund Donors.

Featured image: Switchback road in Obudu, Nigeria. ©IFPRI/Ian Masias. Flickr.