What We Do

Agricultural Development

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Sarah Mehari, owner of Sarah Mehari Poultry Distribution Center, distributes chicken from EthioChicken, a foundation grantee which increases productivity by delivering improved chickens, vaccinations, affordable blended feed, training, distribution, and delivery to smallholder farmers.

Our GOAL:

to support country-led inclusive agricultural transformation across sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia.

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We focus on four strategic goals that help drive agricultural transformation and that ensure this transformation is inclusive: increase agricultural productivity for smallholder farmers; increase smallholder farmer household income; increase equitable consumption of a safe, affordable, nutritious diet year-round; and increase women’s empowerment in agriculture.

Inclusive agricultural transformation is productivity-led growth in the smallholder sector that spurs rural sector economic growth and delivers broad and accelerated impacts favoring the poor, especially women. We invest in this sector because economic growth that focuses on agriculture and that increases the incomes of smallholder farmers is particularly effective in reducing poverty, more so than investments in other sectors.

What is agricultural transformation? The key trigger of transformation in poorer agrarian economies has been the commitment of governments to create a conducive policy environment and to invest public resources into modernization of the rural sector. Such commitment can accelerate country-wide intensification of agricultural production, and leads to transformation only if sustained long enough for a critical mass of smallholders to transition from subsistence to commercially-oriented farm enterprises, supported by the increasing presence of the private sector. The resulting growth in productivity generates marketable surpluses and increased farm income that has been shown to spur significant additional growth in the rural non-farm economy through: expanded business opportunities for transporting, trading, processing and retailing farm surpluses; increased demand for local goods and services from better-off farm households; and by the real-income boost to all consumers delivered through lower food prices. Growth of agro-based enterprises and emerging agro-industry provides opportunities to draw labor off the land and, through improved linkages to demand for fresh and processed food in expanding rural towns and urban centers, generates demand-pull back to farms. While this potentially virtuous cycle remains subject to volatility, especially in contexts of shifting policies and variable weather patterns, it remains the central process by which productivity growth has been shown to drive rural poverty reduction through increased off-farm value-addition, employment, and income generation, as well as through lower food costs.

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