Independent Commission for Aid Impact publishes report on DFID’s Support to Agricultural Research

25 Oct 2013

The Independent Commission for Aid Impact (ICAI) has published a report today on the Department for International Development’s Support to Agricultural Research. The overall rating for the programmes we examined is Green-Amber.

DFID has committed £350 million to agricultural research in the period 2010-15 to improve food security and tackle hunger in developing countries. Activities range from advanced science research in UK universities to projects developing and testing innovative ways to get research products (such as new seeds or animal vaccines) into use by farmers.

ICAI examined a sample of seven projects supported by DFID, including funding of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR), a global network of 15 international agricultural research centres. We assessed what results these programmes are achieving and how well they are designed and delivered. We focussed on whether they will improve food and nutrition security for poor people.

We found that DFID has an effective and innovative agricultural research programme. It has contributed significantly to improved food security and nutrition for poor people in developing countries in the past and could do so in the future.

Graham Ward, ICAI Chief Commissioner, said: “The main challenge DFID faces is to ensure that its research innovations are delivered effectively to farmers in Africa and Asia and taken beyond pilot to scale. As part of this, DFID’s agricultural research and development programmes should collaborate better to accelerate learning and impact.

Lead Commissioner for the report, John Githongo, added: “DFID is supporting important work with the potential to impact positively millions of lives. The programme would have a greater impact on DFID’s overall objectives if it focussed more on the needs of poorer farmers, especially women farmers, and poor people in urban areas, who need access to cheap food.”


ICAI recommends that DFID should:


  • ensure its agricultural research and development programmes collaborate better to deliver research outputs to farmers as quickly as possible and at scale to maximise the benefits for poor people;
  • develop explicit ‘theories of change’ to map out the steps and partnerships needed to ensure research outputs lead to improved food security and nutrition for poor people and women; and
  • aim to increase agricultural productivity, while minimising negative environmental impacts. DFID should focus strongly on environmentally sustainable intensification of agriculture.

Notes to editors:


-For further information please contact Sam Harrison on 020 7270 6742 or The Independent Commission for Aid Impact (ICAI) is the independent body responsible for scrutinising UK aid. We focus on maximising the effectiveness of the UK aid budget for intended beneficiaries and on delivering value for money for UK taxpayers. For further details on ICAI, the workplan and for links to each report please visit

– ICAI’s Chief Commissioner is Graham Ward CBE. The three other Commissioners are: Mark Foster, John Githongo and Diana Good. Their biographies can be found on the ICAI website.

– These reports were prepared by ICAI with the assistance of KPMG LLP, Agulhas Applied Knowledge, Center of Evaluation for Global Action (CEGA) and the Swedish Institute for Public Administration (SIPU International).

– ICAI reports are written to be accessible to a general readership and we use a simple ‘traffic light’ system to report our judgement on each programme or topic we review:

I.          Green: The programme performs well overall against ICAI’s criteria for effectiveness and value for money. Some improvements are needed.

II.         Green-Amber: The programme performs relatively well overall against ICAI’s criteria for effectiveness and value for money. Improvements should be made.

III.        Amber-Red: The programme performs relatively poorly overall against ICAI’s criteria for effectiveness and value for money. Significant improvements should be made.

IV.        Red: The programme performs poorly overall against ICAI’s criteria for effectiveness and value for money. Immediate and major changes need to be made.


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