IAPRI has its roots in the Food Security Research Project (FSRP) which was established in 1999 as a collaborative effort between the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock (MAL), the Agricultural Consultative Forum (ACF), and Michigan State University (MSU). FSRP began with initial financial support from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and, beginning in 2007, from the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA/Zambia). Through this collaborative framework FSRP undertook applied agricultural policy research, capacity building, and outreach activities.
FSRP over the years became a leading institution for empirical agricultural research in Zambia, providing insights on how both government and private firms can raise the productivity of smallholder agriculture, stimulate inclusive economic growth, and improve food security. However, as a donor-funded project FSRP's structure did not provide an obvious exit strategy whereby the research and outreach work that it conducted could be sustainably taken over by a local Zambian institute. To create a sustainable platform for agricultural policy research and outreach in Zambia, MSU transformed the FSRP into IAPRI, Zambia's first locally registered agricultural policy institute.
IAPRI was incorporated in October 2011 under the Companies Act of the Laws of Zambia as a private company limited by guarantee, with a local Board of Directors drawn from various stakeholders including both the public and private sector. The first subscribers to IAPRI include the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock (MAL), Ministry of Commerce, Trade and Industry (MCTI), Central Statistical Office (CSO), University of Zambia (UNZA), Institute for Economic and Social Research (INESOR), Zambia National Farmers Union (ZNFU), Grain Traders Association of Zambia (GTAZ), Agricultural Consultative Forum (ACF), and two independent esteemed individuals as guarantors. In February 2012 IAPRI was officially launched by the Minister of Agriculture and Livestock, Honourable Emmanuel Chenda.
Mandate and strategic focus
IAPRI’s principal mandate is to carry out agricultural policy research and outreach activities, serving the agricultural sector in Zambia to achieve sustainable and broad-based pro-poor agricultural development. Achieving this entails enhancing smallholder agricultural productivity, expanding agricultural markets and trade, improving natural resource management, and expanding the resilience of vulnerable households to external shocks.
Since inception, IAPRI has consolidated its position as Zambia’s premier agricultural policy research Centre of Excellence. Guided by its first strategic plan for the period 2012-2017, IAPRI gained prominence and recognition as the Centre of Excellence for Agricultural Policy Research in Zambia. IAPRI also managed to strengthen institutional collaborations with local, regional, and international strategic partners. During the same period, the Institute made strides and positioned itself to respond to critical policy demands, such as monitoring the implementation of the National Agricultural Investment Plan (NAIP) under the Comprehensive African Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP), and the Revised Sixth National Development Plan (R-SNDP).
Several changes occurred in Zambia’s agricultural policy over the period 2012 -2017. Among the major external changes are policy re-alignments by the Government of Zambia; the decline in Zambia’s economic performance, and increased stakeholder expectations on IAPRI’s ability to positively influence sustainable agricultural transformation. These changes presented opportunities for the Institute to offer realistic and achievable strategies for agricultural transformation in the country.
The reputation gained by IAPRI in its first strategic plan (2012-2017), increased the demand for diverse products and services. In view of this, the Board sought to revise the Vision and Mission statements of the Institute to reflect and take into account the new realities in the agricultural sector in the country and Africa as a whole. The new vision and mission takes into consideration Zambia’s Vision 2030 and the Africa Vision 2063 which are aligned to other protocols which Zambia is a member of. These include, the Malabo Declaration, the UN Sustainable Development Goals just but to mention a few.