PIM News: November-December 2020


December 22, 2020

Dear colleagues and friends,

Welcome to the final issue of PIM News in 2020!

As this extraordinary year is coming to a closure, I would like to express my sincere admiration and gratitude to PIM researchers and partners for their – against all odds - top performance in 2020, which included a high level of patience, flexibility, and ingenuity. I am also particularly grateful to our small but mighty program management unit who have been working very hard to keep things on track and as normal as virtually possible.

The end of the year is always busy for us, and these past few months were no exception. PIM supported the release of two new books (on value chains and mechanization – more below), launched the PIM Synthesis Briefs (four released to date), organized several virtual events. A collection of PIM-supported publications analyzing the impacts of COVID-19 included modeling of the economywide effects of COVID-19 and related restrictions in EthiopiaMalawi, and Papua New Guinea, and observational studies monitoring outcomes for households in Nigeria and for a range of value chain actors in Myanmar such as food vendors and mechanization service providers. (Read more in the Off the Press section below).

In collaboration with the Standing Panel on Impact Assessment (SPIA) and the African Women in Agriculture Research and Development (AWARD), PIM organized a series of three webinars led by experienced journal writers, reviewers and editors to improve the capacity of young social scientists to publish in high quality journals.

All CGIAR Research Programs were evaluated in 2020. PIM’s evaluation report, brief, and annexes have been recently published. The evaluation is quite positive about PIM’s scientific quality and effectiveness and recommends PIM to undertake internal and external assessments on its approaches to policy research that can inform the One CGIAR process currently unfolding.

We held our annual Extended Team Meeting on December 3, a much-shortened virtual version of our typical meeting. However, attendance was high, and we were able to share many recent achievements and discuss priorities for wrapping up of program in 2021. Presentations of our six research flagships are available here.

Thanks for your continued interest in PIM, and I hope you enjoy reading this newsletter.

Happy holiday season and let 2021 be a good one!

Frank Place
PIM Director


Off the Press

Designing better input support programs: Lessons from zinc subsidies in Andhra Pradesh, India
India has one of the largest agricultural input support programs in the world, delivered in the form of subsidies to farmers, raising concerns about its sustainability. Gupta et al. evaluate the performance of the micronutrient subsidy program in the state of Andhra Pradesh and present a case for providing this support in the form of direct cash transfers. [Open Access]

Poverty reduction through the development of inclusive food value chains
Journal of Integrative Agriculture
Propelled by urbanization, rising incomes, and changing diets, food markets have been expanding in Africa and South Asia, creating the vast potential for job and income opportunities along food supply chains and, hence, for poverty reduction. COVID-19 provokes enormous setbacks to this expansion. Rob Vos and Andrea Cattaneo assess how emergency responses to the pandemic can leverage the opportunities provided by food markets growth as economies recover from the present economic recession. [Open Access]

The zoonotic diseases, agricultural production, and impact channels: Evidence from China
Global Food Security
Using panel data of 24 farm commodities in China, Gong et al. find that zoonotic diseases have adverse production impacts on almost all commodities, while livestock on average suffers more than crops. Zoonotic diseases affect these subsectors mainly through adverse shocks on total factor productivity. The spread of COVID-19 is projected to lower the growth rates of China's crop and livestock sector by 1.1%–2.6% in 2020. [Open Access]

COVID-19 and food security in Ethiopia: Do social protection programs protect?
World Bank Policy Research Working Paper
Abay et al. assess the impact of Ethiopia’s flagship social protection program, the Productive Safety Net Program on the adverse impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on the food and nutrition security of households, mothers, and children. The paper shows that participation in the PSNP offsets virtually all the adverse pandemic-induced change, with greater protective role of the program for poorer households and those living in remote areas. [Open Access]

Perceptions of relative deprivation and women’s empowerment
World Development
Kosec et al. explore how perceptions of one’s relative economic status affect gender attitudes. While feelings of relative deprivation increase support for girls’ schooling and women’s paid employment, increased support for women’s economic participation among men appears to stem mainly from a desire to raise household income, and not to alter the general role of women in society. [Open Access]

The impacts of GM foods: Results from a randomized controlled trial of Bt eggplant in Bangladesh
American Journal of Agricultural Economics
Ahmed et al. find that cultivation of Bt brinjal raises yields by 3,564 kg/ha (a 51% increase relative to the control group) and decreases pesticide costs by 37.5%. Bt brinjal farmers sell more eggplant and receive a higher price while incurring lower input costs, resulting in a 128% increase in net revenues. Farmers growing Bt brinjal use smaller amounts of pesticides, spray less frequently, and are less likely to report symptoms of pesticide poisoning. [Open Access]

Embracing innovation to meet food systems challenges
T20 Policy Brief
Arndt et al. offer two policy recommendations to support the contribution of innovation in food systems. First, G20 countries should increase political and financial support to agrifood systems research in developing countries. Second, the G20 should promote and support science-based, responsible, and risk-assessed regulatory reforms that enable the safe deployment of promising bio-innovations. [Open Access]

Influence of land tenure interventions on human well-being and environmental outcomes
Nature Sustainability
Tseng et al. identify 117 studies that aimed to estimate the causal effect of land tenure security interventions on human well-being and environmental outcomes. Approximately two-thirds of these studies reported positive links between improved tenure security and human well-being or environmental outcomes. Close to half of the studies that examined social and environmental outcomes reported positive impacts on both. [Read more in this “Behind the paper” blog (link to pdf)]

We are also pleased to share four recent PIM Outcome Notes: 

Strengthened seed regulations and certification system in Afghanistan 

Supporting Ghana's agricultural mechanization program to better meet the needs of smallholder farmers 

A digital agricultural advisory services platform to boost adoption of improved technologies and practices in Ethiopia

Improving tenure security for pastoralists in East Africa 

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