The Impact Initiative has closed. This website has now been archived and will no longer be updated.
The Impact Initiative has closed. This website has now been archived and will no longer be updated.

Energy Scarcity, Food Supply Chain Transformation, and Poverty Reduction in the Emerging Economies: the Case of Brazil, China, and India

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Principal Investigator: Kevin Zhigang Chen. Lead Organisation: International Food Policy Research Institution

CO-investigators: Elizabeth Farina; Thomas Reardon; Feng Song; Bharat Ramaswami

The project aims to improve our understanding of the links among energy costs and use, the transformation of food supply chains and technologies, and poverty alleviation in Brazil, China, and India.

The project has three specific objectives:

  1. An integrated conceptual framework will be developed for modeling the relations among these three interrelated factors, transformed/modernised versus traditional food supply chains; energy costs from electricity and fuel; and net incomes of supply chain participants and food prices.
  2. The framework will be applied to analyse horticulture and dairy supply chains in China, India, and Brazil, to assess how energy costs are generated and affect behavior in various segments of the supply chain, and what the implications of these are for food costs to consumers and incomes to producers. 
  3. Policy pathways will be formulated for moving towards more optimal energy use practices in food supply chains. 


The project is expected to add significant value to the debate centering on the linkage between resource use, food security, and market transformation in the developing BRICS, with strong lessons for other developing countries.

This study has strong potential for impacts via informing policy change, to effect: (1) an increase in energy efficiency and reduction of energy costs in food supply chains; this can come about by our identifying policies and investments by government as well as private sector and farmers, that save energy or increase its efficiency of use; (2) a reduction of food price inflation; this can be done via identification of ways to increase efficiency of energy use in the supply chain; Discovering energy cost's specific role among various supply chain costs can lead to the impact of enabling energy policy change to be brought to bear on food security; (3) a reduction of poverty and increase in incomes of small-scale actors along the supply chain by adapting (1) and (2) to identification of policy and investment approaches that will lower these costs for small-scale actors in the supply chains; (4) indirectly affect energy cost and efficiency in supply chains by identifying the determinants of technological and structural transformation of food value chains and the variants of such change that use energy most judiciously. These impacts are important in an era of high energy costs, intense public debate about energy policy in general and the relation of energy costs and food prices in particular, and of public concern with high costs in supply chains and thus worries about inefficiency driving food price increases. At the same time, there are growing concerns about the exclusion of the poor from rapidly transformed agri-food supply chains. This work will inform "decision nodes" in policy and public and private investment in the energy system. These policies are in great flux and debate today and energy investments in rapid development. Our work can help those policies and investments to leverage improvements in the supply chains for food security, while helping the poor to benefit as producers along the chain and consumers at the end of the chain from lower energy costs. This would modify the response to energy prices. This could be both through direct policy and investment in energy access, but also in helping the poor make investments in micro-measures to increase energy efficiency in their productivity activities in the segments of the supply chain. The outputs of this study will be communicated to policy makers and other development partners through project meetings, publication of policy briefs, media and seminars in an effective and timely manner. The communication channels that exist within IFPRI, which receive a high degree of visibility, will be exploited. In addition, it is worth highlighting that, the Co-PI organizations, Renmin University, University of San Paulo and India Statistical Institute are uniquely well-positioned to influence the agricultural and food policies in Brazil, China, and India, respectively. The study will provide evidence base and analytical tools that facilitate policy makers and development agencies make more informed decisions and evaluate their alternative options with respect to energy use and management in agri-food system for the enhancement of its performance that are critical to the poor. Lessons learnt from the three emerging economies would have implications for the low income countries. The ultimate beneficiary of this proposed research project is the rural poor in the developing countries who engage in the agricultural sector and whose livelihoods depend on the productivity and performance of the agri-food system. The impact of this proposed study will be even more significantly enhanced if it eventually leads to a larger scale research consortium involving low income developing countries. Room for expansion of the work is considerable and the areas where the framework and modeling tools developed in this study can be applied to are ample.

Primary theme: 
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Project Status: 
Grant Category: 
Research Grant
Lead Organisation Department: 
Development Strat and Governance Div
Fund Start Date: 
October 1st, 2012
Fund End Date: 
December 31st, 2015
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