J-PAL and UM6P launch new agriculture research lab for Africa

Rwanda agricultural landscape
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The Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL) at MIT 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 programs that improve food security in sub-Saharan Africa. 

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. Randomized 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, and 
  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 Tavneet Suri, MIT Sloan School of Business professor and J-PAL Agriculture sector co-chair. "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.” 

In achieving the stated goals, UJALA will further common interests in evaluating and promoting policies that improve food security and climate resilience through agricultural innovation and development across Africa. 

To learn more about the lab, visit our webpage or email us

Media Contact: Eliza Keller, [email protected]

About UM6P

University Mohammed VI Polytechnic (UM6P) is a Moroccan non-profit private research university. The university is an institution oriented towards applied research and innovation and is engaged in economic and human development, with a focus on African development. Its main campus is located in Ben Guerir, near Marrakech, with branches in Rabat, Laayoune and Paris. 

UM6P is committed to fostering innovation and offering a cutting-edge, world-class education that is based on applied research and development, for topics related to sciences & technology, humanities, business and medical sciences. 

In terms of its educational and research approach, UM6P has a demand-driven direction that focuses on training and educating future generations of researchers, professors, and scientists who will not only contribute to but also lead in the development of Morocco and Africa. For more information, visit https://um6p.ma/ 


About J-PAL

The Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL) is a global research center working to reduce poverty by ensuring that policy is informed by scientific evidence. Anchored by a network of over 870 affiliated professors at universities around the world, J-PAL conducts randomized impact evaluations to answer critical questions in the fight against poverty. We build partnerships with governments, NGOs, donors, and others to share this knowledge, scale up effective programs, and advance evidence-informed decision-making. J-PAL was launched at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2003 and has regional centers in Africa, Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean, Middle East and North Africa, North America, South Asia, and Southeast Asia. For more information, visit povertyactionlab.org.


About OCP Foundation

OCP Foundation is a Moroccan non-profit organization dedicated to catalyzing sustainable human development not only in Morocco but across multiple regions in the Global South. Harnessing the power of social innovation, OCP Foundation is on a relentless mission to drive inclusive socio-economic progress, foster skills development, and disseminate invaluable knowledge.

The foundation initiates a multitude of groundbreaking projects and champions innovative approaches in close partnership with both national and international organizations, all aimed at igniting and sustaining the creation of shared value. With an agile and collective intelligence-based action model, OCP Foundation operates across diverse domains such as education, research, and innovation, among others.

In its relentless pursuit of excellence, OCP Foundation takes immense pride in nurturing a knowledge ecosystem that extends support to esteemed institutions like University Mohammed VI Polytechnic and the Lycée Mohammed VI d'Excellence. For a deeper insight, please visit www.ocpfoundation.org