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Strategic research priority assessment toolkit



Support investment and research portfolio decisions by quantifying the expected impact in terms of economic benefits, poverty reduction, food security, and nutrition and health improvements that development and adoption of specific agricultural technologies will generate.

Expected impact

An economic surplus (ES) model, cost-benefit analysis, and poverty impact simulations were used to assess the impact of different research investments (focusing on breeding, pest/crop management, seed systems, and post-harvest innovations) across five crops (cassava, yams, potatoes, sweetpotatoes, and bananas). All 37 assessed options yielded positive net present values (NPVs) and internal rates of return (IRRs) above the standard 10% rate even for the lower of two adoption scenarios. This kind of assessment can help to direct limited funds to research areas with the greatest payoff and thus increase efficiency, transparency, and stakeholder awareness of research program resource allocation.

Description of the assessment 

The toolkit provides a step-by-step description of the process and methods applied in the RTB research priority with a dedicated website organized by the steps of the assessment. This includes a series of short, illustrative videos on the methodology and accompanying scripts available in three languages (English, French, and Spanish). The assessments were conducted with a shared methodology across crops and all comprised the following steps:

  • Identification of major constraints and research opportunities through large scale global (online) expert consultation
  • Formulation of the most promising research options to address those constraints.
  • Data gathering and quantification of impact model parameters (economic surplus).
  • Estimation of regionally disaggregated expected impacts for two adoption scenarios.
  • Communication of results to stakeholders, the public, and the scientific community

Examples of use

Through the toolkit, the methodology and results of the assessment are accessible to decision-makers within the CGIAR and national partner institutions. The compiled information and findings have informed the research portfolio development of RTB and have been published in a series of working papers and several peer-reviewed journal papers. The findings were critical to informing the design of the RTB portfolio for phase 2 and facilitated continued program funding.

Rigorous prioritization is placed at the center of the new One CGIAR strategy. A major potential user will be the initiative on “Foresight and metrics to accelerate inclusive and sustainable agri-food system transformation”. Additionally, specific initiatives seeking to define priorities are potential users including initiatives in the Genetic Innovation action area to determine crop investment cases for specific breeding pipelines linked to product profiles.

Links to relevant online resource

Cost-Benefit Analysis 

Priority setting

Best bets for banana research

Expert survey

Contact persons

Guy Hareau:


 Overview of the toolkit: Six steps: Reaching out to experts and stakeholders for RTB priorities

Knowledge toolkit for research priority assessment (banana example)

Examples of use with RTB crops

Application to assess the economic viability of investments in yam research in 8 countries in SSA