Policy Implementation and Impact of Agriculture and Natural Resources Research

Evaluation Document | 31 December 2008

This evaluation updates the previous study in 2000 in response to several developments in the agriculture and natural resources sector globally and in developing member countries.

This study updates an earlier evaluation conducted in 2000 (SES-2000) in response to several developments in the agriculture and natural resources (ANR) sector globally and also in developing member countries (DMCs). Key emerging concerns include the increasing scarcity of inputs such as land and water for agriculture; and the impact of trade liberalization, global climate change, and biofuel development. ADB has also made several changes to its policies, institutional setup, and operational guidelines since 2000 in relation to ANR sector.

The Agriculture and Natural Resources Research Policy paper of 1995 (the ANRR Policy) articulated ADB's approach to supporting research in the ANR sector. It identified six main agenda items that pertain to research related to the sustainable management of natural resources, agricultural productivity gains, and poverty reduction. It specified funding support of $5 million per year. The regional technical assistance (RETA) modality operationalized the policy agenda. ADB's major partners in undertaking ANRR have been the international agricultural research centers.

SES-2000 concluded that the policy objectives were generally relevant and modalities used in supporting ANRR were effective towards achieving the overall objective of poverty reduction. The Audit Committee of ADB's Board of Directors endorsed the findings and recommendations of SES-2000 and asked ADB Management to implement them fully.

Key findings

  • Of the six recommendations made by SES-2000, only two were fully adopted while the rest were only partially adopted. Most of the recommendations of SES-2000 continue to be relevant in the current context.
  • RETA projects are found to be relevant for addressing the key constraints to sustainable development. They were effective in achieving expected outputs and immediate purpose outcome. However, the full utilization of these outputs to generate eventual development impact will require time and concerted efforts from both ADB and governments of developing member country (DMC).
  • ADB has made partial use of RETA products in its program and project design, both at the sector and country operations levels. Gaps include the absence of institutional linkages between RETA projects and ADB country operations, less effective use of RETA products within ADB, and inadequate support from ADB for technology scaling-up. There is, however, some evidence of the use of RETA outputs by DMCs and other development partners. Some of the activities initiated by RETA have been incorporated in other follow-up projects or have received continued support from other development partners. Some activities were also absorbed into the international agricultural research centers' core agendas.
  • ADB's future support for ANRR is relevant and has potentially high rates of return in the context of current ANR issues. It is also relevant to ADB's current corporate strategy - Strategy 2020 - and emerging international donor practices in supporting ANRR.
  • Overall, RETA projects have made substantial contributions to the generation of improved technologies, knowledge, and information. Despite the relatively modest level of support, RETA projects have been able to leverage major efforts in scientific innovations. RETA projects have also contributed to the overall capacity development of national agricultural research systems, and promoted partnerships among various stakeholders, and facilitated regional cooperation. Despite the evidence of these positive contributions of RETA projects, the low and decreasing level of funding support for ANRR, poor linkages of RETA projects with ADB country operations, insufficient dissemination of RETA products, and inadequate support from ADB and national agricultural research systems for technology scaling up have appeared as areas needing improvement.


  • Develop a strategy and an action plan for ANRR. An update of the ANRR Policy and related guidelines is needed to align the objectives, focus, and emphasis more closely to Strategy 2020, international donor practices, and emerging concerns in the ANR sector.
  • Support both short- and long-term research. ADB should embark on supporting ANRR that clearly addresses both short- and long-term issues.
  • Restore the level of ANRR funding. Funding should be raised to at least $5 million per year in real terms as stipulated in the current ANRR Policy developed in 1995 and endorsed by SES-2000.
  • Promote effective and wider utilization of ANRR products. ADB should develop a knowledge management system consisting of a central repository for cutting-age ANR technology related knowledge products, and an effective knowledge dissemination system to reach out and ensure effective linkages with country operations, and partnership with DMCs for greater development impact.


  • Executive Summary
  • I. Introduction and Background
  • II. Assessment of Implementation of Recommendations Made By SES-2000
  • III. Evaluation of Regional Techical Assistance to Support ANRR
  • IV. Recent Developments and Relevance of ANRR Policy
  • V. Main Findings and Recommendations
  • Appendixes