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Tavneet Suri

J-PAL launches new agriculture lab in Morocco

Marrakech, Morocco, October 17, 2023

The Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL) at MIT has announced that it is partnering with University Mohammed VI Polytechnic (UM6P) to form the UM6P-J-PAL Agricultural Lab for Africa. 
 
Hosted at UM6P in Morocco, the lab will work to design and implement rigorous impact evaluations of policies and programmes that improve food security in sub-Saharan Africa. The partnership was announced on the sidelines of the recent World Bank Group annual meetings in Marrakech.
 
With an initial grant from the OCP Foundation, the UM6P-J-PAL Agricultural Lab for Africa (UJALA) will fund research that rigorously evaluates agricultural technologies and practices that are designed to increase small-scale farmers’ food security, productivity, and profitability. Randomised evaluations will be conducted across sub-Saharan Africa with a clear goal to scale up effective programs. UJALA will be chaired by MIT Sloan School of Business Professor and J-PAL Agriculture Sector Co-Chair Tavneet Suri. 
 
Specifically, UJALA aims to fund innovative research, in collaboration with J-PAL’s network of economists, that answers critical questions related to five key policy areas:
 
1. Designing and delivering effective food and agricultural subsidies.
2. Assessing the value of fertilizer customization to crop needs and soil nutrients.
3. Reducing low-income households’ reliance on imported food.
4. Alleviating farmers’ constraints to adopting and maintaining new agricultural technologies and practices.
5. Connecting farmers to markets that sell at competitive prices.
 
In addition to funding and conducting research, UJALA will share the results from evaluations widely and highlight relevant policy lessons to be leveraged among the public and private sectors for decision-making.
 
“UJALA will further J-PAL’s agenda in agriculture by working with key private sector partners on the African continent to conduct rigorous research aimed at improving food security for small-scale farmers, scale successful programs, and broadly use evidence in decision-making," said Suri.
 
"Through this collaboration, we will address gaps in the policy and research landscapes on topics critical to food security for low-income individuals across sub-Saharan Africa."
 
Iqbal Dhaliwal, Global Executive Director of J-PAL, noted: “J-PAL is committed to finding solutions to the most pressing issues facing our world and society; food security, agriculture, and climate are chief among these, making this partnership important and timely. With the launch of UJALA, we look forward to extending our partnership with UM6P to build new research for African agriculture.”
 
“University Mohammed VI Polytechnic is thrilled to be partnering with J-PAL in the launch of the UM6P-J-PAL Agricultural Lab for Africa," said Hicham El Habti, President of UM6P. "Within the University, agriculture is one of our key focuses, with the aim of developing research to meet the continent's challenges, notably food security. The UM6P-J-PAL Agricultural Lab represents an opportunity for us to work jointly, through the various UM6P entities, to reinforce the agricultural sector and improve food security in sub-Saharan Africa.” 
 
To date, J-PAL’s work has enabled more than 1,640 randomised control trials carried out across 95 countries in 11 areas aiming to alleviate poverty, which have benefited more than 600 million people. J-PAL is named in honour of the late Abdul Latif Jameel, the father of Community Jameel Founder and Chairman, Mohammed Jameel, KBE. – TradeArabia News Service



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