Proven successes in agricultural development

A technical compendium to Millions Fed

David J. Spielman, ed., Rajul Pandya-Lorch, ed.

The world has made enormous progress in the past 50 years toward eliminating hunger and malnutrition. While, in 1960, roughly 30 percent of the world’s population suffered from hunger and malnutrition, today less than 20 percent does—some five billion people now have enough food to live healthy, productive lives. Agricultural development has contributed significantly to these gains by increasing food supplies, reducing food prices, and creating new income and employment opportunities for some of the world’s poorest people.

This book examines where, why, and how past interventions in agricultural development have succeeded. It carefully reviews the policies, programs, and investments in agricultural development that have reduced hunger and poverty across Africa, Asia, and Latin America over the past half century. The 19 successes included here are described in in-depth case studies that synthesize the evidence on the intervention’s impact on agricultural productivity and food security, evaluate the rigor with which the evidence was collected, and assess the tradeoffs inherent in each success. Together, these chapters provide evidence of “what works” in agricultural development.

The technical studies in this compendium, along with the introductory analysis and the final chapter on trends in impact assessment, should be of great interest to researchers and policymakers concerned with assuring that agricultural development leads to significantly improved food security. A sound understanding of past successes is a critical first step in designing the agricultural policies and investments that will help end hunger and malnutrition in the future.