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Social, Economic and Policy Research/ Socio-Economic Research


Economic growth in dry regions does not directly translate into the reduction of poverty; variability in climate change as well as other factors like conflict or unrest, continue to make dryland populations vulnerable to poverty. ICARDA’s Social, Economic, and Policy Research programs emphasize Research-for-Development addressing poverty eradication and higher income generating agricultural activity across a wide range of fields in dry and marginal areas.

Projects under SEPR seek to understand the factors that perpetuate rural poverty and to sensitively address livelihood, gender, and youth limitations in order to more effectively target research and development investments and to accelerate technology adaption. Along with identifying pathways out of poverty, research includes policy and institutional options to improve livelihoods. Key components of the program focus on identifying barriers preventing the adoption of new technologies, access limitations to markets and value chains obstruction through policy and impact assessment.  

Program Director: Dr. Aden Aw-Hassan

Adoption and Impact Assessments

The adoption and impact assessment of research supports appropriate decision-making and the allocation of resources. It also determines how research benefits the poor and the regions in which ICARDA operates. Impact assessment can further identify appropriate technology options, document the adoption of new technologies and practices, and identify research impacts.   Impact assessment at ICARDA measures the impacts of commodity, NRM, environmental, and policy-oriented research.

Agricultural Marketing

Agricultural markets in developing, dryland countries are characterized by deep-rooted inefficiencies – policy failures, high transaction costs, information asymmetries, incomplete property rights, and barriers to entry all perpetuate poverty and restrict access to small-holder farmers, women, and youth to these markets.  At ICARDA, analyses of agricultural marketing and value chains help to ease some of these restrictions to raise incomes for small-holder farmers, improve nutrition, and strengthen national food security.

Agricultural Policy Analysis

Agricultural policy analysis is concerned with the relations between agriculture, economics, and society. We research agricultural policies that aim, within efficiency and equity parameters, to improve national food security, agricultural development, environmental protection, land and water management, and poverty relief.

Research Analysis Includes:

  • Policies for domestic and international agricultural product markets
  • Supply and demand
  • Price stability
  • Land and water use
  • Institutional options to enhance the uptake and impact of improved technologies
  • Optimized sustainable use of natural resources.

Environmental Governance

Climate change urgently requires an integrated agricultural research approach within the broader context of ecosystems, avoiding narrow perspectives that focus on a single field, crop, rangeland plant, or livestock species. The way that people manage ecosystems will ultimately determine their wellbeing and the incomes they can earn from agriculture.

ICARDA’s research to promote appropriate environmental governance involves:

  • Bottom-up development of climate change scenarios and participatory development of adaptation options for households and for common pool resources (non-privatized natural resources like open access rangelands or glaciers)
  • Participatory development of environmental governance schemes for common pool resources as rangelands, foothill ridges or pollinators
  • Participatory development of adaptation strategies to help mountain villages deal with glacier loss
  • Introduction of Farming with Alternative Pollinators (FAP; the approach is described in: Christmann and Aw-Hassan 2012), a self-sustaining, low-cost approach to simultaneously protect key species for climate change adaptation and increase farmers income - See more at:

Socio-Economics of Natural Resources Management

Socio-economics of Natural Resources Management (MNR) analysis deals with the supply, demand, and allocation of the earth’s natural resources. Its objective is to better understand the role of natural resources in the economy, in order to develop more sustainable methods and technologies managing resources to ensure their availability to future generations. Resource economists study interactions between economic and natural systems to develop a sustainable and efficient economy.

ICARDA strives to generate information and to disseminate knowledge and innovations contributing to the appropriate utilization of natural resources for enhanced policy making. This rests upon demand-driven, problem solving, and action-oriented research projects in the area of resource economics, natural resource and environmental management, economics, and environmental policy.

With these goals, ICARDA supports individuals and communities in the dry areas, helping them to make sustainable and effective improvements in their livelihoods through the promotion of rural development technologies, and supporting institutions and groups to assume the responsibility of fostering regional development.

Our work focuses on four thematic areas:

  • Climate change
  • Economics of land degradation
  • Economics of conservation agriculture
  • Economic analysis of water productivity and water use efficiency

Bio-economic modeling

Bio-economic and climate change modeling aims to mimic the current decision making process of farmers in a systems context. Simulations are used to predict the likely outcomes at the system level in general, and different farm typologies in particular, under several combinations of different social, economic, bio-physical, policy, institutional, market, technological, and climate change scenarios.

The ultimate goal of this exercise is to provide insight on the effects of various technological, policy, institutional, and marketing interventions under different climate change scenarios and to help decision makers by identifying the optimal courses of action for achieving the desired outcomes (including poverty reduction, food security and sustainability) at both the system and sub system levels. A small bio-economic modeling exercise conducted on Syrian wheat farms for example employed a simple optimization model to provide empirical evidence that a policy which introduces a penalty for excessive application of irrigation water (PEAIW) would compel farmers to adopt water saving technologies. The study also showed that by so doing, the policy will not only lead to groundwater conservation, but also to Pareto-optimal distribution of benefits (i.e., a situation where nobody loses and at best some or all gain).

For more information:

Contact Person:

Dr. Boubaker Dhehibi


ICARDA office: Amman, Jordan