IFAD Research Series

The IFAD Research Series brings together cutting-edge thinking and research on smallholder agriculture, rural development and related themes. Through this series, IFAD seeks to present diverse viewpoints from across the development arena to stimulate knowledge exchange and to contribute to the global knowledge-base and debate on agriculture and rural development.

The Research Series includes rigorous reviews and studies on a broad and diverse range of themes related to IFAD’s work in smallholder agriculture and rural development. Thematic areas encompass policy, social sciences and specific areas of technical specialization, discussing topics such as migration, agricultural productivity and agribusiness opportunities, rural-urban linkages in food systems, and other related topics.

The research papers are authored by researchers and technical experts from IFAD and partner institutions and are based on research, statistics, technical work or field based work.

11 - Food safety, trade, standards and the integration of smallholders into value chains - A review of the literature

by John Humphrey

This paper analyses how food safety challenges and requirements affect smallholder farmers' access to markets. High food safety standards in destination countries force governments of developing countries to make strategic choices about establishing domestic standards and upgrading the infrastructure and knowledge base of smallholder farmers. The paper suggests mechanisms that can be used to respond to these challenges, to enable smallholder inclusion in different markets. Download


10 - Inclusive finance and inclusive rural transformation

by Calum G. Turvey

This paper provides an overview of concepts, issues and research on the relationship between financial inclusion and inclusive rural transformation. It demonstrates how changing demand for financial services, innovations in rural finance, and different investment strategies affect the interplay of supply and demand. Download


9 - Social protection and inclusive rural transformation

by Carolina Trivelli, Silvana Vargas, Jhonatan Clausen

This paper analyses how different types of social protection interventions affect rural livelihoods. It examines how these interventions can help rural transformation by increasing productivity and asks how they can influence inclusiveness. Using country-level evidence, it suggests that the effectiveness of social protection depends upon specific contexts and combinations of interventions, and asks what this means for building policy. Download


8 - Fostering inclusive rural transformation in fragile states and situations

by Karim Hussein

This paper challenges our understanding of fragile states and situations, and asks how they relate to issues of inclusive structural and rural transformation. Drawing on IFAD's experiences in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Republic of Haiti and the Republic of Sudan as case studies, it analyses the policies and approaches that are successful in fragile states and situations. Download


7 - Measuring IFAD's impact. Background paper to the IFAD9 Impact Assessment Initiative 

by Alessandra Garbero

This paper examines the impact of IFAD-supported projects so as to learn lessons for future projects. It analyses the different methods used by IFAD to measure a project's impact, finds that IFAD is improving the well-being of rural people, and recommends that impact assessments be built into future projects from their inception. Download


6 - Why food and nutrition security matters for inclusive structural and rural transformation

by Steven Were Omamo

This paper challenges current thinking on the connection between rural transformation and food security & nutrition. It advocates that improving rural and structural transformation has a positive cyclical effect upon communities by improving food availability, access, supplies and utilization which in turn improves the health and education of communities. Using evidence from across the developing world, the paper creates a policy agenda to maximise potential for smallholder farming to transform local economies. Download


5 - Rural-urban linkages and food systems in sub-Saharan Africa

by Karim Hussein and David Suttie

This paper examines the role of rural-urban linkages in fostering inclusive and sustainable food systems and how these contribute to rural transformation and,  more broadly, to sustainable and inclusive development. Focusing on sub-Saharan Africa, the paper analyses the interdependencies between rural and urban areas and points to the key roles played by rural-based populations and producers, particularly smallholders, in promoting inclusive, mutually beneficial and sustainable urbanization. Download


4 - The effects of smallholder agricultural involvement on household food consumption and dietary diversity: Evidence from Malawi

by Rui Benfica and Talip Killic

This paper investigates how household agricultural involvement affects food consumption and dietary diversity in rural Malawi. It analyses the relationship between on-farm income shares and the caloric consumption levels and shares across food groups. It finds that while food consumption and dietary diversity increase with agricultural involvement, the quality of diets does not improve. It highlights the importance of income diversification to dietary diversity and the need for investments in nutrition-sensitive agricultural value chains, nutrition education and crop diversification programmes. Download


3 - Fostering inclusive outcomes in African agriculture: improving agricultural productivity and expanding agribusiness opportunities

by David Suttie and Rui Benfica

This paper looks at the role of agriculture in fostering inclusive and sustainable development in Sub-Saharan Africa. It discusses how improving agricultural productivity, smallholder access to markets and expanding agribusiness opportunities can accelerate transformation, investment and industrialization. The paper presents key investment and policy elements to be considered and points to the centrality of smallholders for the rural transformation process to be inclusive. Download


2 - Migration and transformative pathways

by David Suttie and Rosemary Vargas-Lundius

This paper analyses the role of migration in promoting rural livelihoods and discusses how migration interacts with transformative economic processes. Focusing on migration out of rural areas, it examines the impacts of migration on rural livelihoods and challenges the perspective that sees rural outmigration as a failure of rural development. Download.


1 - Agricultural and rural development reconsidered

by Steve Wiggins

This paper is a guide to current debates about agricultural development. It analyses the changes in development approaches and thinking in recent decades and explores today's critical issues in agricultural and rural development policy. With the main focus on Africa, the paper also includes insights from Asia and Latin America. Download