Knowledge for a sustainable world

Research Group:
Development Studies

Current and recent research projects, and projects with a strong research component, include:

  • Climate Impacts Research Capacity and Leadership Enhancement Programme (CIRCLE) (2015-18)
    NRI leads the Quality Support Component of this DFID-funded programme which supports African early-career researchers in climate-related fields to spend a year in another African institution. NRI has provided specialist advisers to support and backstop the research of 35 CIRCLE Fellows, largely on field-based social-scientific investigation of climate impacts and adaptations in rural communities in Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania, Nigeria and Ghana.
  • Assessing the social, economic and environmental impact of Voluntary Sustainability Standards in Cotton (2015 - )
    NRI is working with three consortium partners in India to design and implement the impact evaluation of the Better Cotton Initiative project using experimental (randomised control trial) approaches.
  • Optimal Packaging of Insurance and Credit for Smallholder Farmers in Africa (2014-17)
    This ESRC-DFID research project studies the demand for and supply of packages (credit + insurance + agricultural inputs) in order to identify optimal packages that lead to higher agricultural productivity amongst small-holder farmers in Africa. The research employs experimental games, interviews and randomised control trials, as their primary methodology.
  • Upscaling Best Fit Maize-Legume Technologies through Multi-Environment Trials and Farmer Research Networks (2014-18)
    This action research project in Malawi facilitates and appraises agricultural innovation approaches to test, evaluate and adapt promising agricultural technologies through Farmer Research Networks. Options and approaches (including behaviour change) for incorporating legumes into the diets of under-5 children, mothers and people affected by HIV/AIDs will be developed. Policy-makers will be actively engaged through Parliamentary Committees and workshops, and a set of preferred best bet technologies for different socioeconomic and agro-ecological environments will be scaled out to 30,000 farm families in the intervention areas and beyond.
  • Accessible Systems to Manage Risk in Family Agriculture in Africa (FARMAF) (2011-16)
    This project aims to enhance access to and use of effective farm risk management tools by smallholder farmers in Tanzania, Zambia and Burkina Faso, in order to reduce the exposure of smallholder farmers to downward shocks, improve access to credit and capacity to invest in yield-enhancing technology as well as strengthen their capacity to better manage the marketing of agricultural produce.
  • Supporting Smallholder Farmers in Southern Africa to Better Manage Climate-Related Risks to Crop Production and Post-Harvest Handling (2013-16)
    NRI facilitates multi-stakeholder learning processes for reducing climate risks through improved smallholder post-harvest management, for this collaborative project to increase food security in Madagascar, Malawi, South Africa and Zimbabwe. The project identifies, analyses and documents community hazards, vulnerabilities and coping response mechanisms, and develops, within the innovation systems framework, risk reduction methods and technologies for use in crop production and postharvest handling.
  • Innovative finance in scaling up technology to reduce waste and spoilage in food value chains in Africa (2014)
    This project assessed gaps in the supply of finance for uptake of technology to reduce waste and spoilage, identified financial innovations which can fill this gap, and assessed their feasibility.
  • Climate Learning for African Agriculture (2011-13)
    This two-year research project studied the extent to which principles of climate-compatible development have been incorporated into the strategies and practices of African agricultural research and extension services. NRI collaborated with the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa, and the African Forum for Agricultural Advisory Services, to lead a continent-wide survey, in-depth learning exercises in four countries (Benin, Sierra Leone, Mozambique and Uganda), and action-oriented dissemination of results to stakeholders.
  • Assessing the potential of farmer exchanges based on climate analogue analysis (2012)
    NRI worked with the CGIAR Research Programme on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) to pilot methods for farmer–to-farmer exchanges using participatory learning approaches and the CCAFS spatial climate analogue tool. The aim was to assess how adaptive capacity may be strengthened through visits by farmers to areas which are thought likely to represent their future climate and farming systems. The project facilitated exchanges between different zones of Tanzania, and between Ghana and Burkina Faso.
  • Gender in cassava value chains (2008 - )
    Understanding gender and social difference dynamics in cassava value chains, along with work identifying socio-economic impacts with cassava market development, value chain upgrading and technology development, given cassava's important role in food security and women's livelihoods. This work is focused on Ghana, Malawi, Nigeria, Tanzania and Uganda for the Cassava: Adding Value for Agriculture (C:AVA) project funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Cassava Growth Markets project funded by the European Commission.