Agriculture and Food Security

“Our objective is to promote a transition to sustainable systems of agriculture and natural resource management that provide food security and livelihoods for the rural poor”


Key Agriculture Publications:


Climate Smart Agriculture and Smallholder Farmers

The critical role of Technology Justice in effective adaptation. Agricultural adaptation to climate change is critical for food security and economic...


Scaling up Agroecology through Market Systems

To eradicate extreme poverty means focusing on the 500 million smallholders so they can reliably generate more food and income from their agricultural...


Summary report of the high-level workshop on scaling up agroecology to achieve the SDGs

The aim of this workshop was to explore the potential of agroecology to achieve growth, resilience,poverty reduction and food security with a range of...


Agenda for Change

Practical Action wants governments, development agencies and the private sector to use agroecological approaches to improve productivity and resilience, particularly of smallholder farmers, so they become an essential part of national strategies for food security, economic development and poverty reduction.

biodiversity agriculture Bolivia
Farmers demonstrate the diversity of local
potato species in Bolivia

At present most smallholder farmers and the rural poor tend to be excluded, bypassed or further marginalised by the technology transfer and commercial agriculture focus of current agriculture and development policies and strategies.

Agroecological approaches

At the same time, there is a growing body of evidence that shows agroecological approaches have potential for improving both the productivity and resilience of smallholder farmers.  Such approaches use the resources smallholder farmers already have (the land, crops and knowledge) combined with scientific knowledge and information.  They are accessible, innovative and sustainable.

Landslide damage to infrastructure and fields in Peru
Poor land management can lead to erosion
and landslides in Peru

Like many others, we believe that market systems, and the resources and resourcefulness of the private sector are needed to achieve change at scale.  However, agroecological (or low external input) approaches do not align well with conventional strategies to improve markets or private sector investment.  We believe this should not dissuade us from working with markets or the private sector, but rather increases the need for investment in action research and learning on how agroecological approaches can be adopted by the private sector and incentivised through market systems.



Changing agriculture policy and practice

Our policy and practice objectives relate to improving the understanding and use of technologies by national governments, donors, development agencies and the private sector. We use a Technology Justice lens to help ensure agriculture technologies are: accessible for smallholders and the marginalised, make innovative use of existing knowledge and resources and, improve or preserve the environment and future generations.

Specifically, our work is aimed at improving smallholder productivity, in order to improve national food security, rural incomes (livelihoods) and economic growth, and improving smallholder resilience, in order to improve their ability to adapt to a changing climate and overcome other shocks and stresses, such as commodity price fluctuations or extreme weather events.  To achieve this we call for:

  • Agriculture and development policies that purposely include smallholder farmers and the marginalised rural poor, especially women smallholder farmers.
  • Research and investment in agroecological approaches as a means of improving both smallholder productivity and resilience.
  • Governments, donors, development agencies and the private sector to work through market systems and the private sector to provide a means of achieving scale - in particular to incentivise the adoption of agroecological practices in markets by the private sector.
  • Policy coherence, as there are many factors that can undermine inclusive and sustainable agriculture

Flagship Projects

Pathways from Poverty (PFP) phase 2

Pathways from Poverty

(PFP) phase 2

Sustainable Agriculture

Food & Livelihood Security
Improving food security

Improving food security

Collana, La Paz, Bolivia

Agriculture blog posts

  • Youth driving transformation of African agriculture
    On 16th and 17th February, the MasterCard Foundation will host the Young Africa Works Summit in Kigali, Rwanda, to address the opportunities for empowering young people to drive transformational change in African agriculture. Practical Action will be there to share evidence from its work of how technologies – from MP3 podcasts, to solar irrigation systems – can support young people to lead productive lives in agricultural areas, and move towards more sustainable, resilient farming. Education drives social change Significant improvements […]
  • Can Climate Information Services be mapped? 
    “This is one time where television really fails to capture the true excitement of a large squirrel predicting the weather”.  Groundhog day 1993 Practical Action has been approached by a consortia of partners to explore the issue of Climate Information Services in West Africa. We have been posed the question “Is it possible to map the Climate Information Services system in the region and would mapping help to make the system work better for rain fed marginalised farmers?” This is partly […]
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