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Meeting the challenge of a new pro-poor agricultural paradigm: the role of agricultural policies and programmes

Research report

Written by Andrew Shepherd

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Maximising sustained escapes from poverty and preventing impoverishment will accelerate achievement of the Millennium Development Goals. 

This policy guide is designed to show agricultural and other interested policy-makers how their policies and programmes can benefit chronically poor people, help poor people move out of poverty and prevent the impoverishment of others. It makes a new case for a shift in the mainstream agricultural paradigm towards a focus on asset accumulation and protection in the context of sustainable agriculture, as well as an emphasis on farm workers as a major constituency for agricultural agencies. It also suggests a more rapid transition to incorporating sustainable agriculture and indigenous technologies into the agricultural mainstream in a pro-poor systems innovation approach. It supports other work in highlighting infrastructure and pro-poor market arrangements, non-farm economic growth and local institutional development to enable agriculture to have a greater impact on poverty reduction.

First, this policy guide lays out the issues by analysing panel data from Africa and Asia, where most chronically poor farm households are to be found. It identifies the main policy thrusts necessary to improve agriculture’s contribution to an increased rate of poverty escape, to addressing the causes of chronic poverty and to reducing the rate of impoverishment – all of which are necessary if poverty and hunger are to be eradicated in the next two decades. Policy thrusts making agricultural agencies full partners in the eradication of extreme poverty are identified in four areas: assets, markets, labour and policy areas that lie largely outside the influence of agricultural agencies but where they need to be involved as partners.

The guide then explores concrete policy options that have been tested and evaluated and provide examples of what is possible, where and how. 


Amanda Lenhardt, Amita Shah, Andrew Shepherd, Bara Gueye, Lucy Scott and Miranda Morgan