DNA Fingerprinting

Guidelines and protocols derived from the lessons from SPIA’s experience in collecting data in farmers’ fields for DNA fingerprinting are being developed and shared in three ways. First, the recent report by Poets et al (2020) provides guidance to agricultural researchers wanting to integrate DNA fingerprinting of crop varieties into their field research. The authors draw on experience from several pilot studies from the past six years, and a technical workshop on DNA fingerprinting methodology convened by SPIA in 2018. There are many possible methodological variations of DNA fingerprinting, and this guide helps researchers match their data needs to the specific protocols that they can use to meet them. Second, a companion non-technical guidebook for social scientists is in preparation, in partnership with the World Bank LSMS team. Third, SPIA is helping to mainstream the insights from the DNA fingerprinting methodological work by advising the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation program “Institutionalizing monitoring of crop variety adoption using genotyping (IMAGE)”. SPIA also helped facilitate the participation of a team of social scientists from various CGIAR centers in this initiative, which targets data collection in Ethiopia, Nigeria, and Tanzania.

Community Surveys

Many CGIAR-related innovations target communities rather than individual farmers, or may more generally be better measured at the community level. This includes a wide range of innovations from water management schemes, food safety, value chains, innovation platforms, community nurseries or seed banks, pest and disease management, small machinery renting schemes, climate adaptation practices, and many others. Community surveys can also offer an opportunity to anchor remote sensing data. In contrast to the advances in measurement for household surveys, there is however little methodological work on community surveys to date. 

SPIA is working with the Uganda Bureau of Statistics (UBOS) to upgrade the community questionnaire in both the Uganda National Panel Survey (UNPS) and a companion survey, the National Service Delivery Survey (NSDS), in order to obtain better more complete data on a number of innovations and outcomes. The process of ongoing consultation with UBOS and the Ministry of Agriculture (MAAIF) has succeeded in bringing statisticians from these respective national institutions together in a spirit of collaboration – a significant achievement in terms of building local capacity. Based on experiences in Ethiopia and on the stocktaking exercises in both Ethiopia and Uganda, SPIA is collaborating with community surveys experts in community surveys to find useful experiments that can help further this agenda.

Remote sensing

SPIA is working to identify opportunities for remote sensing to help measure outcomes that were previously impossible to capture using survey methods. These opportunities cut across the country work program on national statistics and the portfolio of impact evaluations. SPIA consultant Dr Johanne Pelletier is leading this work, through collaboration with the SPIA Chair, panel members and research team, and by advising on the remote sensing strategies employed in individual studies. We are building a guidance document tailored to the specific case of remote sensing for impact evaluation in One CGIAR.



“Gold standard” Measurement Approaches: Yes, but Even Gold Comes in Different Carats - SPIA Pre-doctoral fellow, Paola Mallia, on measurement error.

DNA Fingerprinting for Crop Varietal Identification: Fit-for-Purpose Protocols, their Costs, and Analytical Implications - Guidance to agricultural researchers wanting to integrate DNA fingerprinting of crop varieties into their field research.

Remote sensing for impact evaluation: Virtual workshop on measuring environmental impacts - This workshop featured David Lobell, Binayak Mohanty, Meha Jain, Kunwar Singh, Ying Sun, Jennifer Alix-Garcia and Kathy Baylis. Agenda and full video available.

Measurement error and the adoption of agricultural innovations: Building the research agenda - December 2019 brainstorming and networking opportunity for CGIAR researchers working on measurement issues – agenda and participant list available.