Efforts to increase rural incomes and reduce rural poverty in developing countries often focus on policies to lower transport costs and increase market access among poor and remote rural populations. Despite the growing importance of such policies, however, it is not entirely clear to what extent and through which channels increased market access impacts rural individuals’ and households’ nutrition outcomes and overall wellbeing.
Biofortified crops, such as orange-fleshed sweet potatoes, have been shown to reduce malnutrition and micronutrient deficiency, especially in children, and increase farm households’ incomes. Whether or not farmers adopt these new crops, however, depends on individual farmers’ perceptions of biofortification’s benefits.
Better linking Africa’s rural smallholder population to national, regional, and international agricultural value chains is a key rural development and poverty reduction priority. Which types of interventions will be successful in improving such linkages is highly context-specific, however, depending on the country, the target population, and the specific product being marketed.
Agriculture in West Africa faces numerous challenges, including soil degradation, market instability, and significant threats from climate change. In response to these obstacles, many adaptation strategies, such as production of non-traditional crop varieties, have been encouraged. It remains less clear, however, what actually drives farmers’ decisions to adopt (or not adopt) these strategies. For example, a farmer may choose to plant a new crop variety in response to a short-term drought or as part of a longer term strategy to adapt to climate change.
Rain-fed agriculture forms the mainstay of many West African economies, making the region particularly vulnerable to the effects of climate change and weather variability. As a result, there is growing emphasis being placed by both researchers and policymakers on climate-smart agriculture and climate change adaptation strategies to help protect the livelihoods and food security of farmers and rural households.