China Strategy Support Program and the International Center for Agricultural and Rural Development

Motivation

Although China has achieved remarkable economic growth during the past 30 years, more than 84 million people across the country live on less than US$1.25 a day. The majority of those people live in rural areas. In addition, China is facing increased regional inequalities, land and water scarcity, environmental degradation, gender imbalances, and an aging population. To address these issues, policymakers are increasingly learning from other international development actors and sharing their own experiences in return as they design agricultural strategies and poverty-reduction programs. To enhance these collaborations and address government demand for policy-relevant knowledge, IFPRI launched its China Strategy Support Program in 1996. In 2003, together with CAAS, IFPRI established ICARD as the primary research and outreach base for its work in China.

The China Strategy Support Program generates evidence-based research that informs new development strategies and explores their relevance for other countries. Alongside partner institutions, IFPRI evaluates challenges and opportunities in Chinese agricultural and rural development and effectively communicates potential options to better support the country’s policymaking in the food, agriculture, and rural sectors. The program focuses on the western provinces, where more than 60 percent of China’s poor and hungry people live. Thematically, it focuses on agricultural research and development policy, public investment, western China development strategy, rural industrialization, linking smallholders to markets, and international comparative studies of agricultural and rural development; these research themes were established in consultation with national and provincial policymakers.

Outcomes

Alongside local collaborators, the China Strategy Support Program has sponsored international conferences, training programs, and seminars, bringing food and nutrition security to the forefront of China’s development agenda at policy roundtables. Among other outcomes, research on agricultural science and technology policy and public investment has contributed to the debate about setting new priorities in agricultural research investment, rural infrastructure, and education. Joint research on regional development strategies contributed to the development of the country's twelfth Five-Year Plan, which targets narrowing regional development gaps. An in-depth study of the Chinese agricultural extension system reform concluded that the new extension model has significantly increased small village farmers’ access to the critical knowledge provided by extension workers. The resulting lessons, experiences, and reform approaches developed under this project were well received by the Ministry of Agriculture and influenced extension models in 25 provinces. Recommendations on how to best promote China’s agricultural modernization have recently been solicited by the National Development and Reform Commission to facilitate the development of China’s thirteenth Five-Year Plan.