Food taxes, farm subsidies and GM crops: new ‘how-to’ guide launched for tailor-made food policies
CGIAR Initiative on National Policies and Strategies
- Impact Area
October 10, WASHINGTON D.C. – A new tool will help governments customise food and agriculture policies based on country-level circumstances to increase their effectiveness at improving diets, adapting to changing climate and protecting natural resources.
The Political Economy and Policy Analysis (PEPA) Sourcebook is the first to compile dozens of frameworks and approaches for designing food and agriculture policies, such as reforming farm subsidies, water policies, food safety regulations and taxes.
The authors from the Alliance of Bioversity International and the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT), and the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) believe the guide fills a gap in understanding of how national political climates and economy-wide drivers can influence the success or failure of a specific policy and development programs.
It comes as the European Union reconsiders its flagship Farm to Fork Strategy, while governments across the Global South respond to the threat of rice and wheat shortages exacerbated by the war in Ukraine, including bans on rice exports and approvals of GM crops.
“Food and agriculture policies often focus on products or technologies, without paying enough attention to the broader political economy and social implications at the national level,” said Jonathan Mockshell, co-lead author and senior agricultural economist at Alliance Bioversity-CIAT.
“Coherent and effective policies must be tailored to meet national and societal needs. As governments grapple with the global food crisis, the PEPA Sourcebook provides a comprehensive resource that makes sense of the crowded field of approaches, frameworks and tools.”
The PEPA sourcebook, produced as part of the CGIAR Research Initiative on National Policies and Strategies (NPS), provides a six-step guide to help development practitioners, researchers, and policymakers answer critical questions, such as “what works, where, and how?” and “what are the drivers of reform policies?”
The process starts with identifying the policy problem, examining specific questions related to the policy area, and determining the relevant frameworks and analytical tools to apply, based on those included in the sourcebook. The fourth step is to gather data, focusing on why the problem persists, before compiling the insights to inform policy design and finally, packaging the evidence for policymakers.
The sourcebook features frameworks and tools that can be applied to the macro level to factor historical contexts and prevailing national conditions into food system policies.
It also includes meso-level analysis to guide the development of rules and incentives that underpin policies. And micro-level frameworks focused on the individual can help identify winners and losers of policy reforms to shape mitigation or safety net measures.
“The solutions to tricky issues like food security and sustainable agriculture are currently hotly contested, resulting in divergent special interest coalitions and fragmented policies,” said Danielle Resnick, co-lead author and senior research fellow at IFPRI.
“The PEPA Sourcebook provides systematic guidance for answering questions related to food and nutrition, land and water, and climate and ecology to maximise the chance of effective policies.”
One of the frameworks included in the sourcebook is the Kaleidoscope Model (KM), developed by Resnick and colleagues by analysing policy processes related to food security in Zambia.
The framework was used to evaluate policy reforms related to agricultural input subsidies and vitamin A fortification. It uncovered key political and cultural insights, such as core beliefs underpinning subsidy programs about the effectiveness of market delivery systems and the government’s role in agricultural input supply, which later changed with the emergence of e-voucher technology. Similarly, beliefs and biases based on rumours hindered the vitamin A fortification of maize meal.
The PEPA Sourcebook was launched during a webinar for policymakers, researchers and practitioners on Tuesday, October 10.
About the Alliance of Bioversity International and CIAT
The Alliance of Bioversity International and the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) delivers research-based solutions that harness agricultural biodiversity and sustainably transform food systems to improve people’s lives. Alliance solutions address the global crises of malnutrition, climate change, biodiversity loss, and environmental degradation.
With novel partnerships, the Alliance generates evidence and mainstreams innovations to transform food systems and landscapes so that they sustain the planet, drive prosperity, and nourish people in a climate crisis. The Alliance is part of CGIAR, a global research partnership for a food-secure future.
The International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), a CGIAR Research Center established in 1975, provides research-based policy solutions to sustainably reduce poverty and end hunger and malnutrition. IFPRI’s strategic research aims to foster a climate-resilient and sustainable food supply; promote healthy diets and nutrition for all; build inclusive and efficient markets, trade systems, and food industries; transform agricultural and rural economies; and strengthen institutions and governance. The Institute’s regional and country programs play a critical role in responding to demand for food policy research and in delivering holistic support for country-led development.
About the CGIAR Research Initiative on National Policies and Strategies (NPS)
CGIAR launched the CGIAR Research Initiative on National Policies and Strategies (NPS) with national and international partners to build policy coherence, respond to policy demands and crises, and integrate policy tools at national and subnational levels in countries in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. CGIAR centers participating in NPS are The Alliance of Bioversity International and the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (Alliance Bioversity-CIAT), International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), International Water Management Institute (IWMI), International Potato Center (CIP), International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), and WorldFish.
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