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.
14 - Disbursement performance of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD)by Tim Balint, Daniel Higgins, Paola Mallia, Silvana Scalzo, Paul Winters
This paper investigates the trends and the influencing factors of IFAD’s project disbursement performance over the past 20 years. Based on data from 577 projects in 111 countries, the study finds that disbursement of funds are often delayed and time-consuming. Using econometric analysis, the study assesses the internal and external factors affecting the amount and timeliness of disbursements, and provides important lessons on how international financial institutions such as IFAD can better monitor and manage this important aspect of their development effectiveness. Download
13 - Graduation models for rural financial inclusionby Khalid El Harizi and Xinjia Yan
Graduation out of chronic poverty has recently been receiving considerable attention by the global development community for its potential synergies with social protection, microfinance and livelihoods development approaches to poverty reduction. This paper examines the evidence regarding the effectiveness of graduation strategies in reducing extreme poverty, with a focus on rural households, and proposes a new analytical framework to support future work on graduation as a learning and adaptation process in development practice. Download
12 - An evidence-based assessment of IFAD’s end-of-project reportingby Bia Carneiro and Alessandra Garbero
Project Completion Reports (PCRs) are a critical tool for development organizations, both for accountability purposes, and as a means of learning from project experience to inform the design of future operations. This paper analyses a sample of PCRs from IFAD to assess the extent to which evidence is used to determine a project's effectiveness in bringing about development. The report finds that most claims on results are not supported by evidence, and discusses implications for the objective measurement of development effectiveness. Download
11 - Food safety, trade, standards and the integration of smallholders into value chains - A review of the literatureby 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 transformationby 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 transformationby 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 situationsby 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
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
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
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 Malawiby 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 opportunitiesby 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
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.
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