Brazil has achieved impressive results in reducing poverty with “Fomento,” a set of large-scale, government-run social programs targeting smallholder farmers. Rural poverty in Brazil dropped dramatically from 51.4 percent in 2002 to 29.1 percent in 2011; during the same period, family farmers’ incomes also grew by 50 percent. When an initiative shows these kind of positive impacts, it raises questions for further research: What are the keys to its success? Can it be replicated in other countries where alleviating rural poverty is a similarly critical issue?
To study the potential for adopting poverty reduction programs, the Markets, Trade, and Institutions Division of IFPRI is implementing and evaluating a pilot project modeled after Brazil’s Fomento. Adapted for differences in climate, market, and local economic conditions, such a program could have a significant positive impact on smallholder farmers in rural Africa. For the pilot project, MTID has designed similar programs built around the core Fomento elements but specifically tailored for local conditions in Malawi and Senegal.