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”


Coffee Agroforestry: Transforming a vital agricultural sector for a conservation and development ‘win-win’ in Peru

The objective of this paper is to promote collaboration in policy and planning between business-oriented agriculturalists, conservation-oriented foresters,...


Collaborative action on soil fertility in South Asia Experiences from Bangladesh and Nepal

Working paper on collaborative action on soil fertility in South Asia: Experiences from Bangladesh and Nepal.


Renewable Energy Enables Climate Change Adaptation for Smallholders

This policy brief supports Practical Action's 'Planting for Progress' campaign, which focusses on our work with smallholder farmers in Zimbabwe. Despite...


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

  • Market based resilience building in Bangladesh
    For the past week I have been visiting the Practical Action programme in Bangladesh to support their work on resilience programming. I attended the wrap up meeting of the GRP Project, worked with the consultant team undertaking the final external evaluation of the project, helped staff in the flood resilience programme design activities for the next phase of the project and attended the meeting of the Markets Development forum. Bangladesh is a relatively young nation achieving independence in 1971 and […]
  • Enhancing Flood Resilience through Livelihood adaptation
    “The 2014 flood was worse than the 2009 flood but the loss and damage was less because people had learned from the earlier event.” Dinanath Bhandari I am currently visiting the Practical Action Nepal flood resilience project in the western region, which has been supported by the Z Zurich foundation for the last five years. The project is working in 74 flood vulnerable communities adjacent to the Karnali River, located in the Terai plains, the flat lands that connect Nepal […]
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