Building Capacity for Strategic Policies and Investments in Latin America and the Caribbean

Photo Credit: CIAT/Neil Palmer

Ineffective investments and policies can be partly attributed to limited information. To help policy makers in Latin America and the Caribbean make informed decisions, IFPRI has used its research and economic modeling expertise to develop region-specific tools that enhance policy makers’ access to data, analyses, and trends.

Peru has enjoyed sustained periods of economic growth in the last two decades, but efforts to include the rural poor have had little success. Part of the challenge lies in the diverse agricultural and economic characteristics of rural regions, combined with an array of development projects competing for limited resources. In 2013, to better target public investments, the Peruvian Ministry of Economy and Finance collaborated with IFPRI in creating an innovative typology for each rural region that ranks development projects based on their risks, potential impact on poverty, and costs. After a successful pilot in the southern highlands of Peru, the typology was scaled up to the national level. In planning Peru’s 2015–2016 national budget, the Ministry of Economy and Finance integrated the typology into its National System of Public Investments; it was used to target and prioritize about US$1 billion of public expenditure in rural development projects.

Open and accessible data and capacity building are critical for food security in the region. In 2015, IFPRI, with support from USAID, launched the Central America and the Caribbean Food Security Portal (CAC-FSP) to provide Central American policy makers country- and region-specific information on indicators for food security and nutrition while incorporating global issues and trends impacting the region. CAC-FSP is a source of early-warning indicators, specialized maps on issues affecting food security, relevant media articles, and food security–related research and information. Valuable virtual dialogues on timely issues also take place through the CAC-FSP to allow broad information-sharing regarding lessons learned and potential paths forward. The CAC-FSP was developed out of the Food Security Portal (FSP) in partnership with the European Commission, the Swiss Development Corporation, and the IFPRI-led CGIAR Research Program on Policies, Institutions, and Markets (PIM).

Agricultural research and development (R&D) promotes innovations that improve agricultural growth, poverty reduction, and food and nutrition security. However, investments in agricultural R&D have remained low for developing countries in LAC. To aid policy makers in understanding the importance of agricultural R&D and to increase accountability, the IFPRI-led Agricultural Science and Technology Indicators (ASTI) initiative, in partnership with IDB, collected data and analyzed investments in agricultural research and development in South America and Mexico. In 2009, ASTI reports contributed to the Honduran Ministry of Finance’s review of public investment programs, which found that agricultural R&D investments in Honduras were very low. A few years later, the Honduras Agriculture Sector Country Investment Plan 2011–2014 highlighted an increase in funding for agricultural R&D. Recently, ASTI released two regional reports describing the main trends and challenges: Agricultural Research in Latin America and the Caribbean: A Cross-Country Analysis of Institutions, Investment, and Capacities and Productivity and the Performance of Agriculture in Latin America and the Caribbean: From the Lost Decade to the Commodity Boom.

For more information on IFPRI's research and partnerships in Latin America and the Caribbean, please go to this brochure.