Agri-food Business and Agricultural Trade

Trends in the global business of producing food through agriculture, or 'agri-food' business, have substantial impacts on farmers and workers involved in its production and processing –many of whom are in developing countries. In addition, a number of donors are aiming to connect agriculture to nutrition by making their agricultural projects 'nutrition sensitive' in addition to increasing yields and incomes.

Farmers working for a local agriculture research team plant rice seedlings in a paddy field. Credit: Qilai Shen / Panos

IDS research is exploring the impacts of changes in global agri-food business:

  • Food safety and quality – Businesses face legal requirements to meet ever more stringent public food safety standards and maintain customer confidence at a time when global supply chains are becoming more complex. We are examining how stricter food safety and quality standards, both public and private, have the potential to exclude developing countries from international trade
  • Trade structures – We are looking at value chains for processed agri-food products, and considering whether these provide greater scope to include more small-scale producers.
  • Standards compliance – We are exploring how a global value chain framework can be used to improve capacity-building efforts directed at compliance with food safety and quality standards in international trade.
  • Agriculture and nutrition partnerships – Our Partnering for Better Food project aims to identify and support scalable public-private innovative partnerships in developing countries that bridge the gaps between agriculture and nutrition programmes to improve nutrition for the poor and undernourished.

African Farmer Game

African Farmer is a free, open source game that simulates the complex decisions and uncertainties faced by small-scale farmers living in Sub-Saharan Africa. More details

Agricultural Policy Research in Africa (APRA)

Agricultural Policy Research in Africa (APRA) is a five-year, DFID-funded, research programme consortium which aims to produce new evidence and policy insights into different pathways to agricultural commercialisation in Africa and their differential outcomes for local people and economies. More details

Assessing the Impacts of Enhancing Access to Nutritious Foods

The objective of the research is to develop capacity and an analytical approach for the analysis of value chains-based initiatives aimed at enhancing access and consumption of nutritious foods by the poor and to use this learning to develop research proposals on leveraging value chains for nutrition. More details

Framework for Assessing the Impacts of Efforts to Enhance Access to Nutritious Foods

The objective of this research is to develop capacity and an analytical approach for the analysis of value chains-based initiatives aimed at enhancing access and consumption of nutritious foods by the poor and to use this learning to develop research proposals on leveraging value chains for nutrition. More details

Increasing Transparency in Smallholder Supply Chains: Comparing Approaches to Monitoring Performance of Investments and Private Sector Participation

For this DfID-funded project, we will be providing a synthesis of the types of monitoring, evaluation and data being used by investors and the private sector in agricultural supply chains in a developing country context. More details

Public Private Partnerships (PPPs) in Agriculture: Enabling Factors and Impact on the Rural Poor

This research will identify the key factors driving the effectivness of public-private partnerships (PPPs) at bringing sustained increases in income for smallholder farmers at scale and delivering positive development outcomes across rural communities. More details

Transitions to Agroecological Food Systems

This project will examine potential pathways for transitioning to more sustainable food systems in order to contribute to improved ecological, economic, social and nutritional outcomes. More details

View all Research Theme's publications

Use this search to display this theme's publications and filter by journal, author, country and much more.


IDS publications on international development research

Addressing the Dynamics of Agri-Food Systems: An Emerging Agenda for Social Science Research

Environmental Science and Policy 12 (2009)

The ‘modernist’ project that has come to dominate food and agricultural policy has failed to provide sustainable outcomes for many poor people in developing countries. More details

IDS publications on international development research

The Impacts of Private Food Safety Standards on the Food Chain and on Public Standard-Setting Processes

Joint FAO/WHO Food Standards Programme, Codex Alimentarius Commission, ALINORM 09/32/9D-Part II More details

IDS publications on international development research

Understanding the Complexities of Private Standards in Global Agri-Food Chains

Paper presented at 'International Workshop on Globalization, Global Governance and Private Standards', Leuven More details

IDS Working Paper

Private Standards, Small Farmers and Donor Policy: EUREPGAP in Kenya

IDS Working Paper 308 (2008)

Food safety has moved up the policy agenda in industrialised countries in recent years. Governments have tightened both product and process standards, and businesses have had to respond to ever more stringent public food safety standards and the need to maintain consumer confidence. Private voluntary standards developed by groups of companies are one response to this challenge. More details

IDS publications on international development research

Foot-and-mouth disease and market access: challenges for the beef industry in southern Africa

Transboundary animal disease and market access: future options for the beef industry in southern Africa Working Paper 1 (2008)

Transboundary animal disease and market access: future options for the beef industry in southern Africa More details

IDS publications on international development research

Veterinary science, transboundary animal diseases and markets: pathways for policy in Namibia

Transboundary animal disease and market access: future options for the beef industry in southern Africa Working Paper 4 (2008)
IDS publications on international development research

The Role of Public and Private Standards in Regulating International Food Markets

Journal of International Agricultural Trade and Development 4.1 (2007)
IDS publications on international development research

Agri-Food System Dynamics: Seeking Pathways to Sustainability in an Era of Uncertainty

This paper analyses how prevailing narratives of technological change and economic growth have come to dominate key food and agriculture policy debates. More details

IDS publications on international development research

Policy Implications of Trends in Agribusiness Value Chains

European Journal of Development Research 18.4 (2006)