Initiative Result:

Bridging gaps: Foresight training programs for policy decision-making

Addressing modeling system gaps in Africa and Asia by equipping local partners with tools and expertise to support national decision-making.

Researchers in developing countries often do not have access to the models and data needed to evaluate agrifood system trends and priorities. The Foresight Initiative is working with partners in Africa and South Asia to develop models and databases and is providing diverse training options, including open-access online courses, in-person in-country workshops, and training-of-trainers programs. This ensures wider access to modeling tools and empowers local institutions to conduct their own foresight analysis and inform national policies.

Researchers in developing countries rarely have access to the advanced modeling and data systems that developed countries and the CGIAR use to analyze trends, policies, and priorities within food, land, and water systems. This makes evidence-based decisionmaking more difficult, leading to less (cost-)effective policy choices and crisis management. To address this gap, the Foresight initiative is working with partners, especially in Africa and Asia, to develop models and databases as international public goods, transfer them to local institutions, and provide training opportunities tailored to partners’ needs and expertise.

In 2023, the Foresight Initiative conducted seven training events in eight countries and provided a total of 808 person-training days to participants from 17 countries. To sustain the transfer of modeling assets and capabilities while also reaching a broad audience, the Initiative’s training program takes multiple forms, including open online courses, in-person in-country workshops, and a “training-oftrainers” approach. This is proving successful, with partners using CGIAR foresight and modeling systems to conduct their own research and inform policies.

Online training: Foresight has developed a novel online training course that introduces modeling fundamentals to students, with a focus on developing countries and CGIAR’s modeling systems. The first cohort of students took the online course in 2023 and this included young graduate students from Africa and elsewhere. Additional introductory courses will be conducted in 2024, and advanced modules will be added. The Foresight Portal hosts an online training course and provides space for a growing community of modeling practitioners.

In-person training: Foresight also conducted a series of in-person training courses in 2023. The Initiative has adopted a network approach to training by partnering with the Africa Network of Agricultural Policy Research Institutes (ANAPRI) and with the South Asian Network on Economic Modeling (SANEM). This approach will strengthen the capabilities of both local institutions and individual researchers.

The ANAPRI training program is implemented together with the Bureau for Food and Agricultural Policy (BFAP) and supports a large ANAPRI-led project, Policy and Investment Prioritization through Value Chain Analysis (PPVC). This is novel because training is offered in the context of a real-world locally led project. Trainees not only learn how to use CGIAR’s modeling tools but can immediately apply their skills in a practical setting as members of a project implementation team. A similar “learning-by-doing” approach is being followed with research institutes in the SANEM network.

Another important dimension of the Initiative’s training program is the Modeling Service Center (MSC) that ANAPRI is establishing at its secretariat headquarters in Lusaka, Zambia. To support this institutional innovation, the Foresight Initiative is providing long-term training and mentorship to MSC researchers on the economywide modeling of agricultural value chains, food policies, and climate change. To raise awareness and generate demand for the MSC, the Initiative is also providing high-level training to policymakers and local thought leaders on how modeling can be used to inform policy decisions.

Training of trainers: Foresight partnered with the National Policies and Strategies (NPS) Initiative to implement a “training-of-trainers” program specialized in economywide modeling. An initial goal of this collaboration is to support modeling teams within partner research institutions, such as the Kenya Institute for Public Policy Research and Analysis (KIPPRA).

Going forward, Foresight will continue to implement its innovative training program that includes both online and in-person courses coupled with “learning-by-doing” and a “training-of-trainers” approach. This diverse approach is already proving to be successful at building, and hopefully sustaining, foresight and modeling capabilities within key partner institutions across developing countries to foster the continued development of decision-analysis infrastructure.

The Africa Network of Agricultural Policy Research Institutes values our partnership with the CGIAR Foresight Initiative. Their support enhances our capacity for policy analysis, facilitating access to vital data and PPVC modeling tools. The Initiative’s commitment to on-demand capacity-building for our Modelling Services Center is invaluable, advancing ANAPRI’s mission significantly.

Antony Chapoto, Interim Executive Director, ANAPRI

CGIAR Centers

IFPRI; ILRI; Alliance of Bioversity International and CIAT.


Tegemeo Institute of Agricultural Policy and Development; Regional Network of Agricultural Policy Research Institutes of East and Southern Africa; Malawi Agricultural Policy Advancement and Transformation Agenda; Institute of Statistical, Social and Economic Research, University of Ghana; Bureau for Food and Agricultural Policy; Egerton University; Centro de Programas e Políticas Agrárias, Universidade Eduardo Mondlane;
Economic Policy Research Network Rwanda; Institut Senegalais de Recherche Agricole; Makerere University; University of Zimbabwe; University of Kinshasa; Namibia University of Science & Technology; Lilongwe University of Agricultural and Natural Resources; University of Ibadan.