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Impact of agricultural research on poverty alleviation: conceptual framework with illustrations from the literature


  • Kerr, John M.
  • Kolavalli, Shashi


This paper reviews the literature on the subject of the role of improved agricultural technology in alleviating poverty in developing countries. Focusing primarily on improved cultivars produced by the international agricultural research system, it shows how new technology combines with other socioeconomic and institutional factors to determine poverty alleviation utcomes. Technology's role in alleviating poverty is both indirect and partial; technology alone cannot overcome poverty, nor can continued poverty be blamed on improved technology. The review is organized into three parts: Part I introduces poverty and the achievements of agricultural research. Part II provides a conceptual framework and evidence from the literature for the link between new agricultural technology and poverty alleviation. It takes a historical perspective, examining evidence from the literature. The discussion simplifies the complexity of the relationship between technological change and poverty alleviation by breaking it into four types of linkages: i) distribution of benefits across farms with different resource (particularly land) endowments, ii) distribution between farmers and laborers, iii) effects on food availability and consumption, and iv) impact on broader economic growth and employment. Part III looks ahead to the future. It examines potential opportunities to focus agricultural research specifically on the needs of poor people.

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  • Kerr, John M. & Kolavalli, Shashi, 1999. "Impact of agricultural research on poverty alleviation: conceptual framework with illustrations from the literature," EPTD discussion papers 56, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
  • Handle: RePEc:fpr:eptddp:56

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Adato, Michelle & Meinzen-Dick, Ruth Suseela, 2002. "Assessing the impact of agricultural research on poverty using the sustainable livelihoods framework:," EPTD discussion papers 89, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
    2. Falck Zepeda, José & Barreto-Triana, Nancy & Baquero-Haeberlin, Irma & Espitia-Malagón, Eduardo & Fierro-Guzmán, Humberto & López, Nancy, 2006. "An exploration of the potential benefits of integrated pest management systems and the use of insect resistant potatoes to control the Guatemalan Tuber Moth (Tecia solanivora Povolny) in Ventaquemada,," EPTD discussion papers 152, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
    3. Linacre, Nicholas & Falck-Zepeda, José & Komen, John & MacLaren, Donald, 2006. "Risk assessment and management of genetically modified organisms under Australia's Gene Technology Act:," EPTD discussion papers 157, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
    4. Pardey, Philip G. & Alston, Julian M. & Chan-Kang, Connie & Magalhães, Eduardo C. & Vosti, Stephen A., 2002. "Assessing and attributing the benefits from varietal improvement research: evidence from Embrapa, Brazil," EPTD discussion papers 95, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
    5. Paul Mosley, 2002. "The African green revolution as a pro-poor policy instrument," Journal of International Development, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 14(6), pages 695-724.
    6. Thirtle, Colin & Lin, Lin & Piesse, Jenifer, 2003. "The Impact of Research-Led Agricultural Productivity Growth on Poverty Reduction in Africa, Asia and Latin America," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 31(12), pages 1959-1975, December.
    7. Paul J. Block & Kenneth Strzepek & Mark W. Rosegrant & Xinshen Diao, 2008. "Impacts of considering climate variability on investment decisions in Ethiopia," Agricultural Economics, International Association of Agricultural Economists, vol. 39(2), pages 171-181, September.
    8. Fan, Shenggen & Fang, Cheng & Zhang, Xiaobo, 2003. "Agricultural Research and Urban Poverty: The Case of China," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 31(4), pages 733-741, April.
    9. Chan-Kang, Connie & Fan, Shenggen & Qian, Keming, 2003. "National and International Agricultural Research and Poverty: Findings in the case of wheat in China," 2003 Annual meeting, July 27-30, Montreal, Canada 22185, American Agricultural Economics Association (New Name 2008: Agricultural and Applied Economics Association).
    10. Gruère, Guillaume & Giuliani, Alessandra & Smale, Melinda, 2006. "Marketing underutilized plant species for the benefit of the poor: a conceptual framework," EPTD discussion papers 154, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
    11. Alwang, Jeffrey & Siegel, Paul B., 2003. "Measuring the impacts of agricultural research on poverty reduction," Agricultural Economics, Blackwell, vol. 29(1), pages 1-14, July.
    12. Michael Lipton, 2001. "Reviving global poverty reduction: what role for genetically modified plants?," Journal of International Development, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 13(7), pages 823-846.
    13. Alia El Mahdi, 2010. "Poverty and Informality: A Restraining or Constructive Relationship?," Working Papers 569, Economic Research Forum, revised 11 Jan 2010.
    14. Hazell, P. B. R. & Haddad, Lawrence James, 2001. "Agricultural research and poverty reduction:," 2020 vision discussion papers 34, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
    15. RAMDE, Fousseni & LO, Sérigne Bassirou, 2015. "Le Role Du Secteur Agricole Dans L’Economie Du Senegal
      [The Role Of The Agricultural Sector In The Senegal Economy]
      ," MPRA Paper 81906, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    16. Arega D. Alene & Abebe Menkir & S. O. Ajala & B. Badu-Apraku & A. S. Olanrewaju & V. M. Manyong & Abdou Ndiaye, 2009. "The economic and poverty impacts of maize research in West and Central Africa," Agricultural Economics, International Association of Agricultural Economists, vol. 40(5), pages 535-550, September.
    17. Ryan, James G., 2002. "Agricultural Research and Poverty Alleviation: Some International Perspectives," Working Papers 118375, Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research.
    18. Bantilan, MCS & Ravula, P & Parthasarathy, D & Gandhi, BVJ, 2006. "Gender and Social Capital Mediated Technology Adoption," MPRA Paper 10627, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    19. Zaman, Khalid & Khan, Muhammad Mushtaq & Ahmad, Mehboob & Rustam, Rabiah, 2012. "The relationship between agricultural technology and energy demand in Pakistan," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 44(C), pages 268-279.
    20. Henderson, J. S. & Burn, R. W., 2004. "Uptake pathways: the potential of Bayesian belief networks to assist the management, monitoring and evaluation of development-orientated research," Agricultural Systems, Elsevier, vol. 79(1), pages 3-15, January.
    21. Raitzer, David A. & Kelley, Timothy G., 2008. "Benefit-cost meta-analysis of investment in the International Agricultural Research Centers of the CGIAR," Agricultural Systems, Elsevier, vol. 96(1-3), pages 108-123, March.
    22. Alene, Arega D. & Manyong, V.M. & Tollens, Eric F. & Abele, Steffen, 2007. "Targeting agricultural research based on potential impacts on poverty reduction: Strategic program priorities by agro-ecological zone in Nigeria," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 32(3), pages 394-412, June.
    23. Di Falco, Salvatore & Chavas, Jean-Paul & Smale, Melinda, 2006. "Farmer management of production risk on degraded lands: the role of wheat genetic diversity in Tigray Region, Ethiopia," EPTD discussion papers 153, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
    24. Smale, Melinda & Zambrano, Patricia & Falck-Zepeda, José & Gruère, Guillaume, 2006. "Parables: applied economics literature about the impact of genetically engineered crop varieties in developing economies," EPTD discussion papers 158, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).


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