PEP was invited by the African Development Bank (AfDB), Cornell University and the World Bank to participate in a major African initiative for high quality research and capacity building on Structural Transformation of African Agriculture and Rural Spaces (STAARS).The STAARS project, as conceptualized and developed by these initial members of the consortium, proposes to build on the “Myths and Facts in African Agriculture” project undertaken by the same partners, and pursue in-depth, rigorous, policy-oriented research on the causal determinants of productivity and income growth, asset accumulation, rural employment and risk management in African agriculture and rural spaces.
In recognition of its contribution in promoting high quality research and capacity building across the developing regions, PEP was invited - along with African Economic Research Consortium (AERC) - to participate in the high level meeting held at the AfDB, in November 2014, to discuss the ideas for this new initiative. The consortium has identified Cornell University as the main technical lead and global center of excellence in developing this continental initiative with initial support from AfDB.
During the initial phase of the initiative, STAARS aims to hold a consultation workshop and engage African policymakers and researchers on key issues in African agricultural transformation, as well as to organize a first conference with selected papers on the microeconomics of agricultural development in Africa. PEP participated in the policy consultation workshop, organized together with AfDB and AERC, and held in April 2015 in Nairobi, Kenya.
The first STAARS technical conference will be held in December 2015 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. PEP will sponsor participation of 3-4 early career African researchers to present peer-reviewed and competitively selected papers at the conference. The conference will also feature a high level policy roundtable session focused on distilling core messages for a policy-focused audience. A selected set of papers from the conference will also be considered for publication in the special issues of two journals: World Development and Agricultural Economics. Follow these links to find out more about the call for papers and this first STAARS conference.
During the initial phase, the invited collaborators are expected to bring their own resources and contribute to the development of the full initiative as a sign of commitment and interest in the emerging project. When fully developed, the STAARS initiative will have the potential to become a major program for generating reliable evidence and building capacity on policies for agricultural transformation and inclusive rural development in Africa. In order to build on past investments, STAARS aims to leverage existing large-scale and representative high quality panel data such as the Living Standards Measurement Study Integrated Surveys on Agriculture (LSMS-ISA) available for a number of African countries and undertake rigorous policy analysis and support capacity development for African scholars. In recognition of the value of participation in this important continental initiative, International Development Reasearch Centre (IDRC) extended a seed money of CAD500,000 for two years (2015/16-2016/17) to enable PEP to join the consortium of research institutions and bring experiences from other similar capacity building initiatives.
As part of this consortium and with technical support from Cornell University, PEP will undertake the following activities:
- Participate in the development of a large fundable project with the key collaborating partners and support policy research and dialogue on issues related to rural employment, dynamics of rural labor markets and effects on agricultural transformation and inclusive growth in Africa.
- Support workshops and hands-on training programs in selected topics of high interest for young African researchers on issues related to labor markets, youth employment, rural income and labor productivity gaps and strategies for leveraging agriculture and the linked rural no-farm economies for inclusive growth and poverty reduction.
- Support the establishment of STAARS Fellows program by providing selected grants (travel and training) for bright and early career African researchers in collaboration with Cornell University and in close coordination with AfDB, AERC and World Bank.
- Disseminate the research findings through high quality publications and engage and inform policymakers to support the dialogue on transformation of African agriculture through high level policy conferences (jointly with AERC and other partners).
- Support further development and strengthening of the PEP network in the areas of agricultural transformation and inclusive rural development by facilitating exchange of ideas and knowledge.
- Strengthen collaboration with the consortium of institutions and develop strategic ties for research and capacity development in agriculture and rural development and other areas of interest.
Follow this link for more information.