Knowledge for Development

Relevant publications

Rural Poverty Report 2011

The IFAD’s Rural Poverty Report 2011 provides a comprehensive look at rural poverty, its global consequences and the prospects for eradicating it. Released on 6 December 2010, the report contains updated estimates by IFAD regarding how many rural poor people there are in the developing world, poverty rates in rural areas, and the percentage of poor people residing in rural areas. The new report notes that global poverty remains a massive and predominantly rural phenomenon, and that further efforts to reduce rural poverty will be hindered by increasingly volatile food prices, the uncertainties and effects of climate change, and a range of natural resource constraints. The report emphasizes however that profound changes in agricultural markets are giving rise to new and promising opportunities for the developing world’s smallholder farmers to significantly boost their productivity.(Source: International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), November 2010)


Foresight. The Future of Food and Farming (2011)

This report is intended for policy makers and a wide range of professionals and researchers whose interests relate to all aspects of the global food system: including governance at all scales, food production and processing, the supply chain, and also consumer attitudes and demand. It is also relevant to policy makers and others with an interest in areas that interact with the food system, for example: climate change mitigation, energy and water competition, and land use.It gives an extensive assessment of five future challenges to food and farming systems through 13 synthesis reports. These challenges are: A. Balancing future demand and supply sustainably – to ensure that food supplies are affordable. B. Ensuring that there is adequate stability in food supplies – and protecting the most vulnerable from the volatility that does occur. C. Achieving global access to food and ending hunger. This recognises that producing enough food in the world so that everyone can potentially be fed is not the same thing as ensuring food security for all. D. Managing the contribution of the food system to the mitigation of climate change.E. Maintaining biodiversity and ecosystem services while feeding the world. CGIAR’s Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) Program underlines here the report’s section on climate change mitigation and livestock systems, noting the importance of taking into account land-based metrics GHG in efficiency measurements of livestock system GHG emissions.Follow the link below to access all of the documents related to the report.


African regional integration: Implications for food security

by: Van Dijk, Michiel; Wageningen University, LEI paper series.This report from the Wageningen University looks at the African regional trade, regional integration agreements (RIAs) and the implications for food security. An overview is presented on the present state of African regional integration and the determinants of regional trade in agriculture and food commodities. In particular the study focuses on eight target countries (Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Mozambique, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda and Sudan), related RIAs and a set of strategic food commodities.The evidence presented in this study shows that African countries have made progress in opening up agriculture and food trade with partner countries. With, the exception of Ghana, Tanzania and Mozambique, the effective applied tariff rates for regional trade partners are substantially lower than the rates applied to world trade partners. Nonetheless, regional trade in agriculture and food only increased marginally between 1990 and 2009, and is relatively low in comparison with other developing regions. The weak state of soft and hard infrastructure, rather than high trade tariffs, seem to be the cause of this.


The role of labour in agriculture: innovation, strategies and organisation

Le travail en agriculture : son organisation et ses valeurs face à l'innovation, Directed by Pascal Béguin, Benoît Dedieu and Éric Sabourin Editions L’Harmattan, 2011.Source: CIRAD, 11/03/2011A book on the role of labour in innovation, farmers' strategies and their organization, and in the values attached to the professions of animal and crop farmer.There is growing pressure to ensure that agricultural production practices change. But what do we know about the reality of farmers' working practices?This study set out to look not at agriculture, but at farmers: their strategies, organization, and the values attached to the professions of animal and crop farmer."We cannot try to change the sector without taking account of the relations farmers have with their work."


Agriculture 2013 Foresight Study

The Agriculture 2013 Foresight Study published in 2008 explores possible futures for French and European agriculture in the coming years. The study formed part of the European programme for 2008 on the occasion of the CAP health check, and as from 2009 in the context of discussions on the financial prospects for the European Union after 2013. The impacts of the scenarios benefited from analysis using both economic simulation models and qualitative studies by panels of specialists. The different scenarios for the future were defined by a committee of independent experts and their consequences were examined using economic simulation models and by panels of specialists. Two of the principal lessons of this exercise: the importance of the world economic context and the need to define objectives for the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) before determining the instruments required for their implementation. The challenge in the future concerns the EU ability to produce efficiently and sustainably, stabilise agricultural prices as well as maintain agricultural and agri-food activities in all regions.English version: French version:


Climate Analogues: Finding tomorrow’s agriculture today

CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS). Working Paper no. 12. 2011.The analogues approach connects sites with statistically similar (‘analogous’) climates, across space (i.e. between locations) and/or time (i.e. with past or future climates). A CCAFS dissimilarity index or Hallegatte index can be used to systematically identify climate analogues across the world, for certain regions, or among specific locations. Users may use default criteria or choose from a variety of global climate models (GCMs), scenarios, and input data. Once analogue sites are identified, information gathered from local field studies or databases can be used and compared to provide data for further studies, propose high-potential adaptation pathways, facilitate farmer-to-farmer exchange of knowledge, validate computational models, test new technologies and/or techniques, or enable us to learn from history. Users may manipulate the tool in the free, open-source R software, or access a simplified user-friendly version online.


Mapping and foresight of agricultural and food research capacity in Europe (Final Report)

This is the final report for the EU-AGRI MAPPING (Mapping and foresight of agricultural and food research capacity in the new member states and in the candidate countries) project. This report presents the results of a study and provides an overview of the research landscape from the perspective of organisation and activities. The objective is to provide the European Commission with a synthesis of the research systems and the trends in research activities. This report is concise as it provides the major conclusions as well as a review for each country. It is supported by the country reports and country summaries as well as by the survey in the EU-14 and the bibliometric analysis in the 33 countries covered by the project.


Contested agronomy: Agricultural research in a changing world

Contested agronomy: Agricultural research in a changing world addresses the interconnected policy and development issues within the field of agronomy and agricultural research by exploring key developments since the mid-1970s. The book focuses in particular on the emergence of the neoliberal project and the rise of the participation and environmental agendas, taking into consideration how these have had profound impacts on the practice of agronomic research in the developing world.Contested Agronomy explores, through a series of case studies, the basis for a much needed 'political agronomy' analysis that highlights the impacts of problem framing and narratives, historical disjunctures, epistemic communities and the increasing pressure to demonstrate 'success' on both agricultural research and the farmers, processors and consumers it is meant to serve. This book is not available online but is highly recommended for professionals, researchers and students engaged in agriculture, science and technology studies and other aspects of ARD.


Environment and Development Challenges: The Imperative to Act

A group of the world’s leading scientists and experts in sustainable development – all past winners of the Blue Planet Prize – called for urgent changes to policies and institutions to enable humanity to tackle environmental crises and improve human wellbeing. The paper emphasises transformational solutions to key environment and development challenges. It highlights the policies, technologies and behaviour changes required to protect the local, regional and global environment, stimulate the economy and enhance the livelihoods of the poor. (via Mongabay, 22/04/2012)


Sustainable Agricultural Productivity Growth and Bridging the Gap for Small Family Farms

The preparation of this Interagency Report, drafted April 2012, coordinated by the FAO and the OECD, responds to Mexico’s invitation, as G20 President, to examine practical actions that could be undertaken to sustainably improve agricultural productivity growth, in particular on small family farms.The report examines current trends in productivity and its main drivers – innovation, investment and policy. It takes stock of actions underway, in particular those included in the 2011 G20 Ministerial Action Plan. Two other sections focus on four broad areas that require attention: providing an enabling environment conducive to investment and innovation in agriculture; investing in agricultural innovation, broadly defined; improving national and international research collaboration; and, closing the gap between actual and potential productivity levels of agriculture in developing countries. The recommendations provided are broadly of two types: specific actions that can contribute in one way or another to improving productivity growth or sustainable resource use (whether building on existing initiatives or suggesting new activities) and more general proposals that may not be actionable as presented but that serve to highlight areas for priority attention. (ICTSD; 27/4/2012)


New paper: Transforming innovation for sustainability

A new paper authored by members of the STEPS Centre, Stockholm Resilience Centre and the Tellus Institute calls for a radical new approach to innovation, connecting global and grassroots. The paper was published in Ecology and Society and discussed at a major panel debate in Rio on 16 June 2012.Find the publication on the ESRC STEPS Centre website: (Via ESRC STEPS Centre email newsletter)


Transforming innovation for sustainable development and poverty reduction

New research by the STEPS Centre, the Stockholm Resilience Centre and the Tellus Institute argues that sustainable development goals (SDGs) that keep human societies within a 'safe operating space' requires an approach to innovation that gives far greater recognition and power to grassroots actors and processes, involving them within an inclusive, multi-scale innovation politics. In this jointly-authored paper, current development goals focussing on one-track scientific solutions to global challenges are seen as failing to respond effectively to the uncertainty and shifting dynamics of today's world, and to the diverse needs of the poor. Research and experiences across the world, in areas like agriculture, water, energy and health, illustrate what the paper suggests are a set of underlying principles that need to guide innovation for sustainability and poverty reduction. Three interlinked dimensions need to be assessed together: Direction, Diversity, and Distribution. (IDS, 13/6/2012)


Towards a Green Economy: Pathways to Sustainable Development and Poverty Eradication

Part I ‘Investing in natural capital’ of UNEP’s Green Economy Report has chapters on the following sectors: Agriculture, Fisheries, Water, and Forests. These chapters offer guidance to policy makers on how to enable the transition to a green economy. (UNEP, 11/2011)


UNIDO study outlines opportunities and challenges for African agribusiness and agro-industries

This 2011 study by the UN Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) titled ‘Agribusiness for Africa’s Prosperity’ focuses on the opportunities for diversified growth in Africa, and assesses the existing and potential sources of demand growth for agribusiness development on the continent. It includes case studies of countries in their development of agribusiness and agro-industries, identifies innovative financing methods and describes the countries’ internal responses to various challenges. An agenda for action and a framework to guide the efforts of stakeholders, with a key focus on visions, policies, strategies and institutions for Africa’s agribusiness development, is also outlined. A key part of the study is the identification and analysis of the seven development pillars for agribusiness development, which are the actions needed to transform subsistence agriculture into productive agribusiness, as follows: enhancing agricultural productivity; upgrading value chains; exploiting local, regional and international demand; strengthening technological effort and innovation capabilities; promoting effective and innovative financing; stimulating private participation; and improving infrastructure and energy access. (IISD, 13/5/2011)


Conservation for a new era

The book outlines the critical issues facing us in the 21st century, developed from the results of last year’s World Conservation Congress in Barcelona. IUCN's Senior Science Advisor Jeff McNeely takes us through this landmark publication. The landmark publication takes on the pressing issues of today and highlights the solutions to be found through investing in nature. With the key Copenhagen climate change meeting just months away and the 2010 Biodiversity Targets from the Convention on Biological Diversity under the spotlight, the book is essential reading for today’s governments, businesses and decision-makers. It provides a snapshot of the current situation, split into 21 easy-to-read sections, as well as a roadmap for the future.Read the online pdf.


Pacific: Pacific 2020 Background Paper: Agriculture

This paper offers projections of likely best and worst case scenarios for the agricultural sectors of the Pacific island countries in the year 2020. A discussion is then made of possible strategies to help achieve the projected best case scenario. This is followed by a number of recommendations for policy action. Rural people could improve their livelihoods by taking advantage of identified agricultural opportunities:  enhancing household self-sufficiency; supplying growing urban, rural and tourism markets; increasing traditional tree crop exports; exporting to Pacific island and Asian communities; and, exporting new horticultural and spice products in which they have a comparative advantage. A key role for agricultural policy is to empower people to take advantage of agricultural opportunities. Such empowerment requires policymakers and donors to Develop agricultural opportunities and Empower people. Such empowerment requires policymakers and donors to recognize small-scale farmers as part of the private sector. There is a need to build public and private sector partnerships that accept that agricultural development is led by the private sector, with government playing a facilitating role.   Pacific 2020 Background Paper: Agriculture


Global Farming Systems Study: Challenges and Priorities to 2030

The World Bank sought the assistance of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) in evaluating how farming systems might change and adapt over the next thirty years and prepare a supporting study with the following objective: 'On the basis of a determination of the principal trends and issues affecting major farming systems in each World Bank region over the next 30 years, propose operational strategies, approaches and technologies that will contribute to significant and sustainable rural development and poverty reduction among farming system participants.' The results of the study are summarized in a set of seven documents, comprising six regional reports and the global overview contained in this volume. This document, which synthesises the results of the six regional analyses as well as discussing global trends, cross-cutting issues and possible implementation modalities, presents an overview of the complete study. This document is supplemented by two case study reports of development issues of importance to farming systems globally. The concept of Farming Systems is described in the introduction - where farming systems are defined as populations of farms that have broadly similar resource bases, enterprise patterns, household livelihoods and constraints, and for which similar development strategies and interventions would be appropriate. The biophysical, economic and human elements of a farm are interdependent, and thus farms can be analysed as systems from various points of view. Chapters 3-8 provide an overview off the characteristics of the major regional farming systems, regional strategic priorities and maps are given for the sub-Saharan, the Middle East and North Africa, Eastern Europe and Central Asia, South Asia, East Asia and Pacific, Latin America and the Caribbean regions. Chapter 9 tackles issues like the challenge of contrasting farm characteristics, global challenges and priorities for the coming decades: achieving sustainable and productive use of natural resources, deploying science and technology, exploiting globalisation and market development, refocusing policies, institutions and public goods, and enhancing agricultural information and human capital. Chapter 10 deals with some operational implications and discusses topics like: demand-driven approaches to integrated rural development, support services and related institutions, financing instruments and assessing impact using farming systems frameworks. Global Farming Systems Study: Challenges and Priorities to 2030 - Synthesis And Global Overview


Feeding a Thirsty World Challenges and Opportunities for a Water and Food Secure Future

Jägerskog, A., Jønch Clausen, T. (eds.) 2012. Feeding a Thirsty World – Challenges and Opportunities for a Water and Food Secure Future. Report Nr. 31. SIWI, Stockholm. This report provided input into the discussions at the 2012 World Water Week in Stockholm, under the theme of Water and Food Security. It features brief overviews of new knowledge and approaches on emerging and persistent challenges to achieve water and food security in the 21st century. Each chapter focuses on critical issues that have received less attention in the literature to date, such as: food waste, land acquisitions, gender aspects of agriculture, and early warning systems for agricultural emergencies. The analysis showed that there will not be enough water available on current croplands to produce food for the expected population in 2050 if we follow current trends and changes towards diets common in Western nations. The researchers found that industrialized nations currently get on average 20 percent of calories from animal protein (meat plus other products like milk and eggs). To produce the grain necessary to maintain that level and take it worldwide by 2050, farmers would need more usable water than the planet is capable of providing. What level would work, according to the researchers? There will be ‘just enough water’, they conclude, ‘if the proportion of animal-based foods is limited to 5 percent of total calories’. In other words, we non-vegans need to prepare ourselves and our children for radically different diets in the coming decades – eating about a quarter of the meat, eggs, cheese, etc we now do. Rather than relying heavily on animals for protein, we'll have to learn to consume much more of what we now feed animals: legumes and grains.Report:


Strategies and priorities for African agriculture

The authors of Strategies and Priorities for African Agriculture: Economywide Perspectives from Country Studies published by IFPRI, argue that, although the diversity of the region makes generalization difficult, increasing staple-crop production is more likely to reduce poverty than increasing export-crop production. This conclusion is based on case studies of ten low-income African countries that reflect varying levels of resource endowments and development stages. The authors also recommend increased, more efficient public investment in agriculture and agricultural markets and propose new directions for future research.(IFPRI, 23/7/2012)


Foresight prompts researchers in pest management to look beyond research

The European Network for the Durable Exploitation of Crop Protection Strategies (ENDURE) submitted this brief for the Foresight Breakout Session of GCARD2012. It is based on a foresight study that provided crop protection stakeholders with the tools to proactively respond to new EU legislation on pesticides. The study posed questions on how to reconcile health and environmental concerns with export-oriented agriculture, food production for food self-sufficiency, energy-saving farming, or multi-functional agriculture. It shows that many of the driving forces impacting crop protection are outside and beyond the sphere of influence of the crop protection world itself. These regard macro-economic choices affecting the role of European agriculture on the world market or the place that Europe wishes to give to local development.   (ENDURE, 14/12/2012)