There will be 4 major 'product' lines of the centre, grouped accordingly, based on thematic areas/core activities which characterize the rural economy of the country. These Groups, and their attendant focus, is enunciated as follows:
Theme: Improve farm productivity, production diversity and resource use efficiency.
The remit of Group would be to actively seek and develop an effective synthesis of the farm and non-farm constituents of the rural economy. The objective is to view the rural economy in an integrated and holistic perspective, pursue rural agglomeration and focus on drivers and/or constraints limiting broad based, sustained growth. Focus of the group includes factors of production (land, water, labor, capital) and sectors of production (crops, livestock, fisheries and forestry). The Group would engage in input/output modeling; adoption of improved technologies; returns to factors of production, economic and financial returns on investment, cost- benefit analyses, resource pricing, value addition analysis; natural resource management, production management, animal husbandry and climate change adaptation would also be studied along with other relevant research activities which would extend across the spectrum of diverse rural economic activity encompassing agricultural and nonagricultural commodities, industrial processing, and services sectors.
Theme: Develop value chain, link producers with emerging niche market, enhance income diversity, and improve food security.
The twin focus of the Group would be on i) the catalytic role of markets and institutional mechanisms in economic exchange and their efficiency in resource allocation and ii) The extent to which certain economic actors (or groups) are systematically excluded from, or are unable to avail of transactions, and are constrained from benefiting from opportunities of trade and access to certain goods and services. Inclusion, therefore, is a key element of the Group's agenda. The scope of work of the Group would entail research on rural enterprise and entrepreneurship; Rural employment; Wholesale/retail markets; Financial services, intermediation/branchless banking; Domestic trade and commerce (esp. with respect to inter and intra district/province) national/local marketing and distribution channels, National competitiveness and exports; Impact investing business clustering and SMEs; Law –its jurisdiction and applicability (esp. customary/sharia law) contract enforcement and entitlements; Community driven development and social capital; rural aspirations, livelihoods and common interest groups; food security, vulnerability and social protection; microfinance and asset transfers.
Theme: Improve efficiency of rural sector economy through enhanced connectivity and service delivery.
The Group would be primarily, but not exclusively, concerned with spatial dimensions of the rural economy, and overcoming the friction of space through improved provision of public goods and services. Simultaneously, it will also assess the potential of technologies and technology applications for enhancing/upgrading virtual connectivity in less well located regions. By capitalizing on high tele-density in the rural areas it will look at ways and means of accessing emerging market opportunities for people, products and services. The research agenda of the Group would focus on ways to realize the upscale potential of rural areas by strengthening the extent and depth of integration with the national economy as well as the region. This would include, inter alia, studying national/regional trade and resource corridors (upstream/downstream business linkages, joint ventures, sub-contracting and related opportunities); Water, irrigation, transportation infrastructure, primary education, vocational skills and employment; basic health and nutrition; renewable energy and carbon trading; Information asymmetries and the role of emerging communication/digital technologies/platforms.
Theme: Improve policy formulation, design, enactment and implementation through inclusive and consultative processes.
The scope of the Group is central to the work of the CRE. It would play a bridging role in overcoming the present disconnect between research, evidence and policy formulation; and endeavor to crowd in relevant stakeholders to inform and recommend either a new policy, a revision or amendment in existing policy or its repeal and/or reform. In that advisory and advocacy role, the Group will engage extensively with national and provincial legislatures, elected officials, national/sub-national public authorities/agencies as well as research institutions and establishments. Agriculture, trade, taxation policies and subsidy regimes, rural finance and investment, urban-rural terms of trade, employment and productivity, poverty and vulnerability (especially its rural incidence and severity) are of some of the key areas of potential interest and relevance for the CRE. The Group is also envisaged to perform the technical backstopping and facilitation role. It will act as the information hub of the CRE. It is proposed to be equipped with a state of the art GIS lab. Real time use of geo-referencing and positioning as well as satellite imagery would be integrated and mainstreamed in all research activities. Additionally it will be responsible for maintaining information and statistical databases and management information systems in a fully automated IT based environment, for use and access by the other groups and researchers of the Centre. The second function of the Group would be documentation, dissemination and communication and media interface on the output and outcomes of its work. Event management would also lie within the ambit of the Group.