Achieving Pro-Poor Growth through Agriculture: The Challenges

The Future Agricultures consortium convened six meetings to discuss key issues in agricultural policy for pro-poor growth. The meetings took place at ODI’s offices in London and began in October 2006 with ‘Effective Rural Institutions: The Missing Link in Market-based Agricultural Development?’, speaker: Jonathan Kydd from Imperial College.


Friday, 28 October 13.00–14.30, at Overseas Development Institute, 111 Westminster Bridge Road, London SE1 7JD

Effective rural institutions: the missing link in market-based agricultural development?
Why has market liberalisation often not resulted in increased rates of agricultural growth? A leading hypothesis sees failures in output and factor markets as the main cause, and institutional innovation as the remedy. If so, what kinds of institutional innovations are needed, and how can they be promoted?

Speakers: Jonathan Kydd, Imperial College and John Harriss, Director, DESTIN

Friday, 04 November 13.00–14.30, at Overseas Development Institute, 111 Westminster Bridge Road

Agriculture and the rural non-farm sector: rivals or complements?
Overwhelming evidence shows that in rural economies the non-farm sector is becoming increasingly important for jobs and incomes. At first sight, the RNFE offers an alternative to agricultural development, a rival for policy-makers’ attention and development funding. But how much does the non-farm sector’s growth depend on agriculture? Or is there substantial scope for independent development of the sector, and if so what policies are needed to realise the potential?

Speakers: Deborah Bryceson, Leiden and Peter Hazell, Imperial College

Friday, 11 November 13.00–14.30, at Overseas Development Institute, 111 Westminster Bridge Road

What priorities for improved agricultural technology?
With world population still rising, and the rate of growth of yields of cereal crops falling, there is a strong case for renewed investment in agricultural technology. But what are the priorities and issues? Further intensification using bio-technology? Or do we need technology that may be more suitable to poor people in marginal environments, that makes less demands on external inputs? In either case, how will that technology be developed: through the public sector, private companies or some third way?

Speakers: Michael Lipton, Sussex and Anita Ingevall, ILEIA Centre for Information on Low External Input and Sustainable Agriculture


Friday, 25 November 13.00–14.30, at Overseas Development Institute, 111 Westminster Bridge Road

Politics, policies and agriculture: the art of the possible in agricultural development
Optimal policy is one thing: feasible policy is often another. At the macro level, there are questions about the fit of agricultural development policy to the realities of imperfect political systems that often give priority to redistribution through networks of patronage over investment in growth. At the micro level, there are the ‘how’ questions of implementation in circumstances where the public sector has low capacity.

Speaker: Peter Bazeley

Friday, 02 December 13.00–14.30, at Overseas Development Institute, 111 Westminster Bridge Road

Is there a future for small farms?
The demise of smallholdings has long been announced, yet the numbers of small farms continues to rise in most of the developing world. In the not-so-distant past, smallholder development have been successful, as seen in the green revolution in parts of Asia. But are current conditions and likely future conditions – globalization and liberalised agricultural trade, the emerging supply chains with supermarkets playing a greater role, falling commodity prices, etc. – changing the balance? And if smallholders are to thrive, what policies are needed?

This session draws on the proceedings of a workshop held at Imperial College in June 2005.

Speakers: Colin Poulton, Imperial College and Steve Wiggins, Overseas Development Institute


Friday, 09 December 13.00–14.30, at Overseas Development Institute, 111 Westminster Bridge Road

Agricultural growth and social protection: can we have both?
Agricultural growth will not alleviate all rural poverty. In the short run, it is likely that substantial numbers of the poor will benefit only a little if at all from such growt h. Social protection will be needed to assist the very poor. But how can such social protection be offered in ways that are both efficient and effective, and that also complement growth?

Speakers: Stefan Dercon, Oxford and John Farrington, Overseas Development Institute

Further reading:

Farming and the Poor: Seven New Challenges
Policy Research and African Agriculture: Time for a dose of Reality?
Social Protection and Pro-Poor Agricultural Growth: What Scope for Synergies?
Cash Transfers – Mere ‘Gadaffi Syndrome’, or Serious Potential for Rural Rehabilitation and Development?
Responding to HIV/AIDS in Agriculture and Related Activities
The Niger food crisis: How this happened? What should be done to prevent a recurrence?
Farm Subsidies: a problem for Africa too
Restoring Growth in African Agriculture
Rethinking Rural Development
Six Characters (and a few more) in search of an author: how to rescue rural development before it’s too late