Green agricultural policies and poverty reduction


Headline issue

Since developing countries typically have large agricultural sectors, the implementation of green agricultural policies can play a key role in helping shift to low-carbon economies. However, the challenge of greening agriculture in the developing world involves creating policies that also deliver wider development objectives – a task that is necessary in order to gain political support, but which can be difficult to achieve.

This brief analyses 24 projects in 17 countries, including Brazil, China, Costa Rica, India, South Africa and Zimbabwe.

Key findings

  • Poorly designed projects can conflict with efforts to reduce poverty and, worse, some green agricultural projects actually increase levels of poverty.
  • Taking into account economic, social and cultural factors in the design and implementation of green programmes is fundamental for increasing the participation of poorer people. Policy-makers should therefore consider: the availability of credit; property rights and land ownership arrangements; labour market conditions; the strength of local institutions and legal context; and social and cultural norms.
  • Green agricultural policies should be complemented with policies or initiatives that tackle local market imperfections. This type of policy works best where good information is available about local socio-economic and institutional conditions.
  • Participants in green agricultural initiatives should be allowed to choose appropriate interventions from a menu of options. This makes the best use of their knowledge and enables them to best match the options to their individual circumstances.
  • With smart and informed policy design, adverse impacts of green agricultural policies on cutting poverty can be greatly reduced. Potential synergies between the two can even be exploited.