Photo credit: Neil Palmer / CIAT

"Fish in the sea you know how I feel
River runnin' free you know how I feel
Blossom on the tree you know how I feel
Its a new dawn, its a new day, its a new life for [us]
And [we’re] feelin good."
--Lyrics from 'Feeling Good'

At HarvestChoice, our primary mission is to generate knowledge products to support better strategic investment decisions. Aligning with this, we were asked to step up with our analytical know-how and knowledge products, including a suite of priority setting tools and pixilated maps that home-in on hot spots for intervention, to support the G-8 initiative New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition. This post describes the background, goals, and anticipated outcomes of the New Alliance, and the supporting role of HarvestChoice.

A New Alliance

In 2012 the United States leveraged its presidency of the G-8 to deepen the global commitment to food security through the establishment of the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition (NA) initiative. At the G-8 Summit hosted by President Obama at Camp David (May 18, 2012), African heads of state, corporate leaders, and G-8 members pledged to partner through the NA, and working with the African Union and Grow Africa, “lift 50 million people out of poverty in sub-Saharan Africa by 2022”. African governments, the private sector (both international and local), G-8 members, and other development partners (e.g., FARA/CAADP, CGIAR, SROs/NARs, AGRA, NGOs, farmer organizations, etc.) committed to focus, accelerate, and coordinate their joint efforts aimed at reducing poverty and hunger in Africa over the next 10 years.

One of the NA’s commitments is centered on “Taking Innovations to Scale” – aiming to significantly scale up the adoption of new agricultural technologies in focus countries of Africa. This ambitious goal involves a number of enabling actions, including:

  1. Establish 10 year targets for sustainable yield improvements in national priority value chains and adoption of new technologies that will increase food security, resilience, and nutritional outcomes for each of the NA focus countries
  2. Launch a Technology Platform to assess the existence of and share knowledge about improved technologies and practices
  3. Identify current constraints to adoption
  4. Create and launch a “Scaling Seeds and other Technologies Partnership ” initiative with the Africa Green Revolution Alliance (AGRA) to coordinate related, but separate country and donor-financed programs to strengthen the seed sector and promote the commercialization or availability of technologies at scale through non-profit mechanisms 
  5. Organize and share knowledge on the existence, performance, and sourcing of innovations (technologies and practices) with NA partners

Of these, HarvestChoice is providing technical support and evidence on:
1) setting priorities on value chains and their targets,
2) designing the Technology Platform components, and
3) geospatial targeting and ex-ante impact analysis for the investment made through the SSTP initiative.

Sample of HarvestChoice Decision-Support Tools

In each of the focus countries (as of December 2013, these include Ghana, Tanzania, Mozambique, Malawi, Senegal, and Ethiopia), a series of technical consultation workshops are ongoing. In each workshop, NA partners and in-country stakeholders decide which commodities and technologies to target for scaling up, and where. HarvestChoice participates by providing data and tools to enable participants with evidence-based information to answer the questions of ‘which’ and ‘where’. The following are examples of our contributions presented at past workshops:

  1. Commodity Prioritization Tool – Built by HarvestChoice using (easily-assessable) Excel spreadsheet software, this tool helps users identify country-specific priority commodities in terms of economic impact, importance to the poor, nutritional values, impacts on natural resources, and attractiveness to the private sector. Users can set their own weights depending on country-specific criteria and goals. For example, where one might select nutritional value as the most important criterion to consider for area x, another might select economic impact as the first priority for area y. Depending on the assigned weights entered for variables, the ranking of commodities dynamically changes and the user is presented with a priority list of commodities to be considered for investment. HarvestChoice compiled the underlying data from various literature and household survey analyses, and asked in-country partners to review the data. We have thus far developed this tool for Mozambique, Ghana, and Tanzania (as of writing), and they will be available to download from our website [see ‘Tools’] soon. More countries will be released in early 2014. (Click to enlarge image below.)Picture1.png
  2. Geospatial Targeting Tool – Every technology comes with a suite of requirements dictating where it performs best (e.g., temperature, rainfall, elevation, slope, market accessibility, and linkage to other socioeconomic factors such as household income, gender, and education). By overlaying grid-based geospatial data layers, this tool helps users select refined areas in the target country/region that meet the user-defined criteria and thus have more potential for scalable impact. The example below illustrates a hypothetical scenario filtering out unsuitable areas as defined by user-selected criteria. (Click to enlarge image below.)Picture2.png

HarvestChoice is developing more strategic tools to further support informed decision making of New Alliance partners. Some of the topics of interest include agro-dealer accessibility, ex-ante modeling analysis on the potential impacts of specific technologies (e.g., rhizobium inoculation of nitrogen-fixing, leguminous crops), and mapping the relevant agricultural investment activities on the ground – many of which will be carried out in 2014. Building user-friendly tools for decision makers and bringing layers of big data together to tell the story of where in sub-Saharan Africa is what HarvestChoice is all about. We’re taking advantage of this opportunity to share our expertise with New Alliance and national partners and work alongside with them to improve the well-being of the poor where it matters most.  


HarvestChoice, 2013. "New Dawn, New Day: A New Alliance for Africa." International Food Policy Research Institute, Washington, DC., and University of Minnesota, St. Paul, MN. Available online at

Oct 7, 2013