Agriculture

Agriculture is a key pathway out of poverty. Getting growth moving through different types of agriculture in ways that benefit poor people is a major policy priority. However, while many of the technical problems and solutions are well known, previous efforts have been found wanting.

IDS research aims to revitalise the debate on agriculture. Our focuses are on the politics of policy processes surrounding agricultural development, particularly in Africa. Through context sensitive research in a diversity of settings, we aim to explore new pathways for sustainable agriculture which benefit the poor and marginalised.

Work on agriculture involves a number of IDS teams and is conducted with partners worldwide.

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Photo of Ayako Ebata, Post Doctoral Researcher, Health and Nutrition research cluster More details

Photo of Dolf te Lintelo More details

Photo of Dominic Glover More details

Photo of Edoardo Massett More details

Photo of Ian Scoones, Research Fellow More details

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Photo of John Thompson, a Research Fellow in the IDS Rural Futures research cluster More details

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IDS staff or research student More details

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Accelerating Progress in Reducing Hunger and Undernutrition

This programme will focus on how agriculture can deliver better nutrition outcomes by developing evidence-based policy options and tools for businesses, governments, NGOs and donors. More details

Addressing Synergies and Trade-Offs between Goals for Climate-Resilient Agricultural Systems

What factors lead state and market actors in Africa to commit to implementing more ‘climate smart’ and ‘climate resilient’ agricultural approaches and practices that promoting more sustainable and pro-poor outcomes? This study is examining how different governance systems are handling the complex interface between food, energy, water and climate in pursuit of the SDGs pertaining to these sectors in four countries in Africa. More details

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

Challenges and Opportunities for Rural Youth Employment in Sub-Saharan Africa: A Mixed-Methods Study to Inform Policy and Programs

The goal of the Challenges and Opportunities for Rural Youth Employment in Sub-Saharan Africa study is to strengthen and deepen knowledge of: the employment dynamics of rural young people, and the relationships between these dynamics and welfare; and the socially and spatially differentiated perspectives of rural young people on work, employment and livelihoods. Research is taking place in Tanzania, Uganda, Ethiopia, Nigeria, Niger and Burkina Faso. More details

China and Brazil in African Agriculture

The question of how Brazil, China and other 'rising powers' may change African agricultural development is critical and timely. More details

Economy-wide Implications of Agricultural Sector Scenario Projections

The aim of this project is to link the world agricultural model IMPACT housed at IFRI with the global multi-region CGE model GLOBE in order to provide quantitative analyses of the wider implications of agricultural sector scenario projections generated by IMPACT for the rest of the economy, and to enable an assessment of the aggregate welfare effects associated with changes in the agricultural sector that include economy-wide linkage effects. More details

Enhancing Effectiveness of Multi-Stakeholder Platforms in Food and Agriculture

The kind of challenges that the food and agriculture sector is faced with increasingly asks for approaches that can engage effectively with related complexities. Much is invested in multi-stakeholder platforms as they hold a potential for playing an important role in doing so. However, there is a great need to assess their contribution to inclusive and sustainable development, and to assess what makes for effective platforms. More details

Fighting Over Land: Theory and Empirical Evidence from Colombia

The aim of this project is to develop a research agenda on the long-term effect of civil conflict on institutions, particularly on land tenure structure, in Colombia. 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

Future Agricultures Consortium

The DFID funded Future Agricultures Consortium is an Africa-based alliance of research organisations seeking to provide timely, high-quality and independent information and advice to improve agricultural policy and practice in Africa. More details

GM Crops and Indigenous Management Skill

This project examines the effects of GM seeds on the ‘indigenous management skill’ (IMS) that is crucial to the productivity and sustainability of small-scale crop cultivation. More details

GODAN Action - Enabling practical engagement with open data in agriculture and nutrition

GODAN Action brings together agriculture and nutrition specialists and open data experts and will support GODAN in its mission by building people’s capacity to engage with open data More details

Groundwater Futures in Sub-Saharan Africa (GroFutures)

GroFutures is a 4-year interdisciplinary research project aiming to develop the scientific basis and participatory management processes by which groundwater resources can be used sustainably for poverty alleviation in Sub-Saharan Africa. More details

Impact Evaluation of the PSNP and HAPB 2012

Since 2003, the Government of Ethiopia (GoE) has been implementing a new Food Security Programme (FSP). In 2009, this programme was reviewed and reformulated. More details

Integrated Seed Sector Development in Africa (ISSD-Africa)

The goal of ISSD Africa Programme is to support the development of a market-oriented, pluralistic, vibrant and dynamic seed sector in Africa for providing both female and male smallholder farmers access to quality seed of superior varieties. More details

Livelihoods After Land Reform

This collaborative project, which involves IDS and is led by the Programme for Land and Agrarian Studies (PLAAS) in South Africa, asks: to what extent is land redistribution in southern Africa achieving poverty reduction and livelihood improvement objectives? More details

Matasa Fellows Network

An exciting initiative to support young African scholars engage their research with policy on youth employment in Africa. More details

Policy Instruments and Public-Private Collaborations

The collaboration will assess policy approaches to economic inclusion of highly marginalised populations (displaced, indigenous, Afro-Colombian, extremely poor) in agricultural value chains in Colombia. It will focus on a key policy instrument – public-private partnerships – and on approaches that support stabilisation in post-conflict regions. More details

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PB156_Cover

Does Land Titling Matter? The Role of Land Property Rights in Colombia’s War on Drugs

IDS Policy Briefing 156 (2018)

The ‘war on drugs’ has failed. Despite an increase in law enforcement, production levels of coca – the crop used to make cocaine – have hardly altered in the last decade. More details

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Realising the Potential of Agribusiness to Reduce Youth Unemployment in Ethiopia

IDS Policy Briefing 153 (2018)

Agribusiness in Ethiopia has grown significantly in the last 20 years, and this growth is set to continue. This transition presents opportunities to address the country’s high youth unemployment and for agribusinesses to participate in global, regional, and local markets. More details

Medium-Scale Commercial Farms in Africa: the Experience of the ‘Native Purchase Areas’ in Zimbabwe

In this article we seek to learn lessons from the past by examining the experience of ‘native purchase areas’, which were established from the 1930s in Zimbabwe. More details

Credit: Panos / Robin Hammond

Narratives of Scarcity: Framing the Global Land Rush

Geoforum 2018 (2018)

Global resource scarcity has become a central policy concern, with predictions of rising populations, natural resource depletion and hunger. The narratives of scarcity that arise as a result justify actions to harness resources considered ‘underutilised’, leading to contestations over rights and entitlements and producing new scarcities. More details

Contract Farming for Improving Smallholder Incomes: What Can We Learn from Effectiveness Studies?

World Development 104 (2018)

Contract farming is a sales arrangement between a farmer and a firm, agreed before production begins, which provides the farmer with resources or services. Many governments and donors promote contract farming as part of agricultural development policies. However, there is serious concern whether smaller farmers can benefit from these arrangements. More details

Non-IDS publication

Farmers’ Agency and Experiences of Agricultural Change in Rural Kenya: Insights from Exploratory Fieldwork

STEPS Working Papers 102 (2018)

Using novel agricultural technologies to boost farm productivity in the face of climatic and demographic disruption remains a priority for African policy and research. This paper uses an innovative, participatory and ethnographic methodology to explore, through farmers’ experiences, the historical pathways of social, ecological and technical (socio-eco-technical) change that have reshaped agriculture More details

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The Role of Land Property Rights in the War on Illicit Crops: Evidence from Colombia

World Development 103 (2018)

This paper examines the effect of the formalisation of land property rights in the war against illicit crops, using the case of Colombia. More details

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Inclusive Structural Change: Case Studies on Innovations in Breeding Practices in Kenya and Anti-Retroviral Therapy Service Provision in Mozambique

IDS Working Paper 505 (2018)

Innovation, accompanied by structural change, is at the heart of economic growth and development. Yet there is limited evidence to understand interactions between innovation, structural change and inclusion in the context of low-income and emerging countries, or how these processes best support sustainable and inclusive societies. More details

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Addressing Climate Change Uncertainty in Dryland Kachchh, India

IDS Policy Briefing 147 (2018)

The semi-arid district of Kachchh in Gujarat, India is known for its erratic rainfall, water scarcity, and droughts. Climate change has intensified extreme temperature and rainfall patterns and also led to changes to the long coastline. More details

Teaser image for Governing Food And Agriculture In A Warming World

Governing Food And Agriculture In A Warming World

Global Environmental Politics 18.2 (2018)

Understanding how, why, and whether the trade-offs and tensions around simultaneous implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals are resolved both sustainably and equitably requires an appreciation of power relations across multiple scales of governance. More details

Inception Report: External evaluation of mobile phone technology-based nutrition and agriculture advisory services in Africa and South Asia

The GSM Association (GSMA), working with a wide range of mobile network operators and civil society organisations, is launching a series of nutrition-focused m-health and m-agriculture initiatives in South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. GSMA refers to nutrition-enhanced initiatives collectively as ‘m-nutrition’. This report summarises the plans for an impact evaluation of two of these nutrition-enhanced initiatives: mHealth in Tanzania and mAgri in Ghana. More details

IDS publications on international development research

Do Trees on Farms Matter in African Agriculture

World Bank (2018)

This study highlights the prevalence and importance of trees in African agriculture. Trees on farms provide a significant source of income for many households across the continent. More details

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Public–Private Cooperation for Secure and Inclusive Rural Economies

IDS Policy Briefing 146 (2017)

How do public–private collaborations enable secure and inclusive rural economies? Alongside private sector investment, government provision of infrastructure, research and extension services and support for farmer organisations remains crucial. More details

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Improving the Impact of Climate Information Services in Kenya’s Arid and Semi-Arid Lands

IDS Policy Briefing 145 (2017)

Climate variability and change are affecting millions of poor people in Kenya, particularly in arid and semi-arid lands. Significant investments are being made in developing Climate Information Services (CIS) which are tailored to the needs of pastoralists and agro-pastoralists and aim to help them adapt to the impact of climate change in these regions. More details

Using quantitative methods to evaluate mobile phone technology based nutrition and agriculture advisory services in Ghana

This brief focuses on the quantitative impact evaluation in Ghana, led by IFPRI; a key component of the mNutrition impact evaluation. More details

Why Access to Land is Vital for Sustainable, Healthy and Fair Food Systems: Strategies for Increasing Access to Land for Agroecological Farming

In partnership between the Institute of Development Studies and the Land Workers’ Alliance, research has been undertaken to identify strategies for increasing access to land for agroecological production, in order to contribute to a transition towards sustainable – or even regenerative – food systems in the UK. This briefing summarises these strategies. More details

Using quantitative methods to evaluate mobile phone technology based nutrition and agriculture advisory services in Tanzania

This brief focuses on the quantitative component of the impact evaluation of mNutrition in Tanzania, led by IDS, GAMOS and IFPRI. More details

Valuing Agroecological Farmers: What Can We Learn From Alternative Economic Approaches to Ensure the Contribution of Agroecological Farmers is Valued Appropriately? Findings From Participatory Research

This paper looks at the potential usefulness of triple bottom line accounting, and also explores other approaches, in financial accounting, for ecological and social outcomes and the effects of different farming methods. It then provides details of the presentations given by three witnesses and a summary of the outcomes of the farmer panel deliberation. More details

Teaser image for Power in Practice: Insights from Technography and Actor-Network Theory for Agricultural Sustainability

Power in Practice: Insights from Technography and Actor-Network Theory for Agricultural Sustainability

Power and Practice (2017)

In this paper, we use conceptual insights from two distinct traditions within the social studies of science and technology, namely actor-network theory (ANT) and technography, to explore the relationship between power and the reconfiguration of agricultural practices toward sustainability. More details

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