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Despite economic growth in some dry areas, data show that poverty is increasing. A significant portion of the non-poor population is also vulnerable to lapsing into poverty as a result of climate variability and change, and other factors, including conflict or unrest.

This program is all about understanding rural poverty, livelihood strategies, and gender, in order to better target research and development investments. The gender nature of agricultural production influences our research and approach to defining pro-poor interventions, especially the empowerment of women.

Research includes analysis and mapping to identify pathways out of poverty, value chains and markets, and policy and institutional options to improve livelihoods. Other key components of the program are focused on identifying barriers that prevent the adoption of new technologies, and a body of work that assesses the overall impact of ICARDA’s research effort.

A recent study in Turkey showed that the use of new wheat varieties more than doubled yields. In one year alone, the adoption of these new varieties boosted national income by US$24 million.

Elsewhere, work has focused on adding value to fruit and vegetables. In Egypt research found that pomegranate and winter onion export expansion was limited by the obstacle of agrochemical residues. In Morocco, table olive exports were constrained by taxation policy and a failure to capture retail value by only trading in bulk.

A recent poverty assessment study across Sudan found clear regional differences in income and human poverty - with Southern Sudan suffering the worst despite its natural resources. The study recommended targeted action, area by area, and the application of livestock development and technology improvements to increase farm income.