Strengthening institutions and governance
International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI)
Strengthening institutions and governance (SIG) is one of the goals of IFPRI, which is committed in reaffirming that without these two pillars, improving agricultural productivity and reducing world poverty and hunger will never be completely achieved. Among the actions advocated and outlined in the document we are excerpting below1, we note improving the access to land ownership, implementing agricultural development programs, or expanding cooperation between governmental organizations, the private sector and local interest groups, such as small farming cooperatives for instance.
Strengthening institutions and governance is also the required condition to fight agricultural price volatility and its consequences, especially in developing countries. In fact, the free interplay of market forces will not stabilize agricultural prices at satisfactory levels without a genuine international governance system. Confronted to the structural flaws of agricultural markets and their highly strategic nature regarding food security, the implementation of public regulatory policies coordinated at the international level is the absolute precondition to stabilize markets.
momagri Editorial Board
The centrality of sound institutions and good governance in improving agricultural productivity and reducing rural poverty, hunger, and malnutrition has become widely recognized in recent years. Institutions are the systems of rules that constitute the environment within which policymaking, cooperation, and innovation occur. Governance was defined by the United Nations Development Programme in 1997 as “the exercise of economic, political, and administrative authority to manage a country’s affairs at all levels.” Strong institutions allow for more effective management of common pool resources and environmental services, while good governance facilitates technical dynamism, gender equity, risk mitigation, and inclusion of the poor in shared growth.
POLICY GOALS AND RESEARCH AREAS
Strengthened Assets and Property Rights
Property rights are essential for ensuring that natural resource assets, including land, water, and minerals, are used and maintained properly. Such rights can be designed and enforced formally by governments and courts as well as informally by customary authorities and through tradition. SIG research examines how various institutional arrangements affect the distribution of wealth as well as incentives for investment and long-term security. Specific atten¬tion is directed at identifying effective ways to strengthen women’s property rights and to reduce the gender gap in assets. These methods include both direct property rights interven¬tions (such as legal empowerment programs) as well as agricultural de¬velopment programs’ indirect effects on the distribution of assets.
Inclusive and Effective Collective Action
Collective action is a key mechanism for sustainably managing natural resources, facilitating smallholder market access, and handling risk. SIG research therefore identifies fac¬tors that influence the effectiveness of collective action institutions such as resource management groups, cooperatives, and microfinance and mutual assistance groups. In addi¬tion, this research aims to overcome the barriers to participation in such institutions that are faced by women, small-scale producers, and other marginalized groups and to take into account the respective roles of and prospective partnerships with the state, private sector, and local groups.
Processes That Lead to Pro-poor Policies and Investments
The emergence of pro-poor poli¬cies is a complex, and sometimes opaque, process and is often con¬text-specific. SIG research aims to shed light on this process by examin¬ing how different political regimes, interest groups, and incentive struc¬tures collectively create the condi¬tions under which pro-poor policies are most likely to emerge. Attention is further given to analyzing the factors affecting investments by the public and private sector (including international organizations, donors, and farmers) and the consequences of specific investments for poverty reduction. This work helps IFPRI engage with a range of implemen¬tation partners active in develop¬ment policy processes and provides insights on how to bring research-based evidence to bear on policy and investment decisions.
High-Quality Service Delivery through Institutional Innovation
The provision of high-quality services is critical for enhancing the liveli¬hoods of the poor and vulnerable. In addition to governments, a growing number of new actors and institutional innovations exist in the area of service delivery. As such, SIG research con¬siders a broad range of innovations, including decentralized governance, public-private partnerships, and civil society service provision from nongov¬ernmental and non-profit organizations. In doing so, it aims to determine under which conditions and in which sectors certain institutional arrangements are more feasible than others and when they are more likely to result in high-quality services relevant for enhancing agricultural productivity, increasing food security, and improving health and education outcomes.
1 IFPRI (International Food Policy Research Institute). 2014. “Strengthening Institutions & Governance” (Brochure). Washington, DC. Reproduced with permission from IFPRI (2014). The original publication can be found at : http://www.ifpri.org/sites/default/files/publications/brochure_sig.pdf