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SOW-VU, Centre for World Food Studies, The Netherlands CP

The Centre for World Food Studies (Dutch acronym SOW-VU) founded in 1977, is a research institute that provides support, at both national and international level, to the formulation of food and agricultural policies and policies aiming at poverty reduction. The Centre is engaged in applied and often quantitative research. It co- operates with scientists and policy makers from developing countries, so as to ensure that policy formulation and capacity building evolve together. Furthermore, the Centre contributes to debates and policy dialogues on food related issues.

The Centre is organised around three major themes: (I) Food and agriculture in the national and international economy, (II) Household analysis and nutrition, and (III) Agriculture, land, and water.

In terms of methods, research on Theme I mainly engages in accounting and modelling at the national or international level. Here the issues of efficiency, decentralisation, and growth are of major concern. Research on Theme II focuses on the individual household and analyses the causes of disparities and the consequences of efficiency oriented macro-policies on poverty and nutrition. It also has a component that studies human capital effects i.e. of the contribution of improved education, health and nutrition to labour productivity. Finally, research under Theme III studies the relationship among agro-ecological conditions, crop-suitability, and land degradation. The Centre focuses its applied work on co-operation with local research institutes that maintain close ties with policy units within the government. The Centre also participates in national and international research networks, which are used both as sources of information on most recent developments and as channels for dissemination of its own findings. The Centre has a long-standing tradition in the formulation of food, agricultural and poverty- reducing policies and active involvement in development planning strategies in, among others, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Thailand, Nigeria, Lebanon, Syria and in Eastern Europe and actively participates in the studies of the 'Réseau de Securité Alimentaire Durable en Afrique de l’Ouest Centrale’. The Centre also assisted the European Commission in the analysis of reform scenarios of the Common Agricultural Policy. As part of the basic research, the Centre developed new analytical tools that link GIS-based hydrological models with economic models and currently applies these to river basin management projects for the Upper-Zambezi, the Jordan River Valley and in the near future in the Oueme watershed in Benin.

Dr. Ben Sonnefeld holds a PhD. of Vrije Universiteit. Amsterdam, The Netherlands. He used to work as Associate Professional Officer (APO) at the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). He is currently Researcher at the Centre for World Food Studies of the Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam.

Dr. M.A. Keyzer has a doctor's degree in Economics (cum laude) at Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam. Professor of Mathematical Economics, he is Director of the Centre for World Food Studies of the Vrije Universiteit.

P.J. Albersen, M.Sc. Econometrics at University of Groningen, researcher at SOW-VU is mainly interested in spatial analysis of poverty using household level surveys and census information, spatial maximum likelihood estimation of crop yield relations in West Africa, and estimation of agricultural production systems in China.