Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies Woods Institute for the Environment Center on Food Security and the Environment Stanford University

Agricultural Innovation: Technology, Development, and Well-being

Diversification into high-value crops is key to breaking the persistent poverty cycle and improving local nutrition. High value crops increase returns to land, provide a natural mechanism for spreading risk, and link smallholder farmers to a broader array of markets.

Rural farmers in sub-Saharan Africa live under risky conditions. Many grow low-value cereal crops that depend on a short rainy season, a practice that traps them in poverty and hunger. But reliable access to water could change the farmers' perilous situation. Stanford scientists are calling for investments in small-scale irrigation projects and hydrologic mapping to help buffer the growers from the erratic weather and poor crop yields that are expected to worsen with climate change in the region.

This research area seeks to shed light on novel technological interventions in improving rural livelihoods relative to other possible interventions, in the context of the poor, agriculturally dependent communities that define rural Africa.