Our Agricultural Development strategy is organized around the following 10 programmatic portfolios. These are distinct groupings of investments and priorities that collectively contribute to our goal of country-led inclusive agricultural transformation.
Enabling Country Systems: Africa
In collaboration with partners at the country, continent, and global level, we support African nations in their efforts to advance inclusive agricultural transformation. This includes setting resource allocation priorities, building government implementation capacity, shaping inclusive markets, and collecting evidence on what works and what other efforts across Africa have proven successful. We also engage with the private sector to help scale up innovative service delivery models that focus on smallholder farmers and help larger companies integrate those farmers into their business model. This area of work includes stewarding the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) partnership, which has supported several hundred projects that aim to boosting the productivity and income of smallholder farmers across the continent.
Enabling Country Systems: Asia
In collaboration with Asian governments and local and international partners, we support country-led efforts to realize inclusive agricultural transformation—specifically, to ensure diversified farming and food systems that improve access to affordable, nutritious food and strengthen markets. This involves brokering partnerships to generate evidence and adapt innovative models to the Asian context and the needs of smallholder farmers. In India in particular, we help strengthen government capacity in priority setting, implementation, resource allocation, policymaking, shaping of inclusive markets, and research and data collection. We work closely with India’s federal government and with three states: Bihar, Odisha, and Uttar Pradesh. We also help build and coordinate broad partnerships to increase investment and identify countries and localities that are well situated to transform their agricultural sector.
Seed Systems and Varietal Improvement (SSAVI)
We work to help upgrade public-sector crop breeding systems in Africa and Asia and enhance delivery of improved varieties to farmers. Improved breeding systems can generate higher rates of genetic gain in staple crops, in the form of varieties demanded by farmers, processors, and consumers. We also focus on building an ecosystem of public and private actors in order to increase the rate at which old varieties are replaced by new and improved ones. Current varietal replacement rates for smallholder farmers range from 20 to 30 years; our goal is to reduce this to 5 to 10 years. Rapid varietal replacement is needed to avoid yield losses due to the evolution of pests and diseases in a changing climate.
Crop Discovery and Translational Sciences
We work to help increase crop productivity for smallholder farmers by advancing the effectiveness and affordability of crop products and technologies and increasing the likelihood of widespread adoption. We focus on high-risk, high-reward product development efforts that aim to raise intrinsic yields and protect against drought, pests, diseases, and other stresses. This includes work on novel biological paradigms and inventive tools and technologies.
Livestock play a critical role in the livelihoods of more than 900 million people in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. With regional demand for livestock products projected to grow by more than 150% by 2050, development of the livestock sector offers a unique pathway to improve income and nutrition for the poor, particularly women. Our work in this area focuses on animal health, animal production, and animal systems. Sustainable livestock productivity growth leads to higher household incomes, empowers women, and improves year-round availability and accessibility of safe and nutritious animal-sourced food. Our approach to livestock development focuses on more effective engagement by global and regional technical entities, more progressive and effective national policies, and a more vibrant private sector that can deliver services and products at a more appropriate scale.
Nutritious Food Systems
We work to shape food systems that can deliver safe, affordable, and healthy diets year-round to low-income people. Our investments in this area have evolved from a focus on aflatoxin control and biofortification to a more holistic view of food systems and multiple pathways for spurring change, including by empowering women. We work with smallholder farmers, processors, traders, food companies, and retailers to improve supply and demand for nutritious foods, with an emphasis on animal-sourced foods. Our work in food safety reflects the prominent role of biological pathogens in the contamination of food supplies and the spread of food-borne disease. We invest heavily in research on how agricultural policies and practices affect nutrition and how interventions at the farm and market levels can improve diets. This leads us to work closely with governments to translate data into evidence-based agricultural strategies and policies. Our work in this area is significantly co-financed by the UK government’s Department for International Development.
Global Policy and Advocacy
This portfolio complements the broad Agricultural Development strategy by ensuring that, in addition to strong and well-resourced national plans and a functional private sector, countries also can rely on both adequate and appropriately-targeted resources from donors and a well-aligned, outcome-oriented system of global institutions to support their national efforts. The portfolio’s medium-term priorities are twofold: Firstly, to ensure that bilateral donors and the global agricultural-financing architecture are aligned behind a roadmap that will deliver sufficient resources to achieve SDG goals and to enable the measurement and transparent monitoring of progress; Second, that donor resources are prioritized toward the generation of global public goods, such as R&D, and support agricultural transformation through financing of national agricultural development plans aimed at achievement of SDG2, ending hunger, and SDG2.3, doubling smallholder productivity and incomes.
Policy and Data
Lack of timely and reliable data, along with weak policy design and implementation are among the most critical impediments to inclusive agricultural development in our focus geographies. This cross-cutting portfolio strives to boost the effectiveness of agricultural policy, planning and investment decisions through use of quality data and analytics. Our work focuses on three areas: (i) improving national and state-level policies and resource allocation, (ii) increasing the availability and use of credible data and analytics, and (iii) improving data and regulations for efficient and inclusive markets – to support more systematic policy prioritization and address market failures, due to policy, regulations, and imperfect information, that are impeding smallholder access to relevant products and services. This portfolio strengthens the data and policy components of the foundation’s other Agricultural Development portfolios (e.g., livestock, plant protection, fertilizer, finance and seeds), and supports the development of replicable tools, assets and methods to address systemic policy and market challenges. Key areas of focus include: testing replicable approaches to national IAT policy prioritization and planning; strengthening data ecosystems and the use of new data collection, exchange and analytics technologies in service of improved market transparency and public policies and programs; and strengthening donor coordination around initiatives for more modernized and cost-effective national agricultural statistics.
Digital Farmer Services
As a contribution to the broader drive towards inclusive agricultural transformation, we focus on innovations that can help smallholder farmers leapfrog many of the systemic constraints they face in raising their productivity and incomes. We believe that digitally-enabled innovations in technologies, services, and platforms can rapidly increase our ability to scale and provide farmers with diagnostics on soil health and crop nutrition, access to financial services and inclusive markets, and learning opportunities to inform farm planning and practical field operations allowing farmers to move beyond subsistence farming. When integrated, these system innovations are poised to provide public and private sector partners with the necessary insights to create a more enabling environment and optimize product and service offerings in support of smallholder farming. Our goal is that at least half of the smallholder farm population in our focus geographies have access to and are benefitting from such digitally-enabled services within 10 years. We envisage playing a strong catalytic role in advancing cost-effective business models and supporting national/state-level platforms that incentivize and harness the interests of the public sector, the private sector, and smallholder farming communities.
The AgDev Women’s Empowerment portfolio includes two complementary bodies of work that together focus on closing systematic gender gaps in productivity as well as in access to a broad range of services, markets, and entrepreneurial opportunities (Why focus on women’s empowerment in agriculture). This work is undertaken in service of the overall growth and inclusion goals of AgDev and is strongly integrated into the broader womens’ and girls’ economic empowerment goals of the foundation-wide Gender Equality (GE) Strategy. The two bodies of work are: Integration and Gender Data and Evidence. The Integration body of work focuses on thoughtfully integrating gender into all AgDev investment portfolios, including seed systems, livestock health, digital extension, and policy advice, while doubling down on reducing the gender gaps in smallholder farm households through our partnerships with AGRA, CGIAR and others. It also encompasses the role that the Ag Dev team plays in leading the Women’s Market Inclusion and Women’s Land Tenure Security components of the GE Strategy. The Gender Data and Evidence body of work focuses on increasing the quality and utility of data and evidence to influence governments’ policies and priorities for women in agriculture, including supporting the development of Pro-WEAI metrics (Project-level Women’s Empowerment in Agriculture Index) to help our grantees rigorously track whether agricultural interventions are effective at empowering women.