Improving Rural Livelihoods

Improving Rural Livelihoods

ICARDA’s Social, Economic, and Policy (SEP) Research Team plays a crucial role in analyzing our innovations’ socioeconomic viability, adoption, scaling up, and impact on poverty alleviation, food security, systems resilience, and social inclusiveness. Our solutions aim for more inclusive markets and value chains, better natural resource management and governance, and optimization of sustainable land and livestock management options. Our approaches include socioeconomic evaluation and gender transformative approaches, as well as context-sensitive targeting.


In 2020, the SEP Team carried out several studies that analyzed factors that drive transformations in farmers’ livelihoods and informed decision-makers and institutions on effective policies and strategies for improving agricultural productivity.


Improving market participation

In Ethiopia, the CGIAR Research Program (CRP) on Policies, Institutions, and Markets (PIM) and CRP Livestock fund important studies led by ICARDA’s Dr. Girma Kassie. These demonstrate how livestock market facilities could improve smallholder livestock keepers’ market participation and the market price of livestock, increasing the income of family farming households and boosting rural economies. Complementary studies highlight the willingness to pay for key livestock market facilities prioritized by the livestock keepers themselves.

Farming approaches for better yields

In Syria, a study funded by CRP-Wheat and led by ICARDA’s Dr. Yigezu Atnafe Yigezu and Dr. Amin Mugera of the University of Western Australia showed how the use of zero tillage enhances technical efficiency and reduces the risk of poor wheat yields.

In Morocco, research funded by CRP-Wheat and led by ICARDA’s Drs Mina Devkota and  Yigezu Atnafe Yigezu identified agronomic factors such as tillage methods, seed quality, fertilizer application rates, and the type of preceding crop grown as the key to reducing gaps in yield and profit margins in wheat production.

Investment and partnerships in agriculture for better employment and inclusive value chains

A study across fourteen African countries funded by CRP PIM and led by ICARDA’s Drs Aymen Frija and Boubaker Dhehibi showed how increased investments in agriculture could generate higher overall employment and reduce gender disparities in labor participation. It also demonstrated how women’s employment rises over men’s in response to agricultural investments and how infrastructure investments delivered a higher impact on female employment growth than productivity.

A study funded by the CRPs Dryland Systems and Policies, Institutions and Marketsand CRP PIM showed that that public-private-civil society partnership are essential for developing technological and institutional innovations that involve more inclusive olive oil value chains. The research can help design initiatives that foster effective, inclusive, and contextually relevant processes for agricultural innovation.

A a study in Egypt, led by Dr. Boubaker Dhehibi and funded by the United States Department of Agriculture through its Economic Research Service, showed that technological innovations and efficiency gains have historically contributed significantly more to agricultural growth than did the expansion of irrigated areas or water use. The study demonstrates a clear argument for more investment in those areas.

Digitalization to reach all

As well as research studies, our ICT2Scale project, funded by German development agency GIZ and led by Udo Rudiger and Dr. Boubaker Dhehibi, uses cell phone-based services to offer extension services for smallholder farmers in Tunisia. Over 1,000 farmers now receive messages with helpful information on crop and small ruminant production, beekeeping, and conservation agriculture. Current market prices for ten common agricultural commodities were also made available via cell phones. Eight e-learning modules were also developed to strengthen the capacities of trainers and extension workers.

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