Feed the Future
This project is part of the U.S. Government's global hunger and food security initiative.

Agri-food Systems Transformation and Food Security

Why Agricultural Transformation?

Agriculture provides the best opportunity we have to reduce poverty, hunger and malnutrition among the greatest number of people in the world. Putting an end to hunger and extreme poverty requires transformation of the agricultural and food systems found in many developing countries. At the center of this transformation there must be systems change from subsistence farming — which struggles to provide sufficient and adequate nutrition to the smallholder farmily — to a food system that raises incomes, increases food security and improves nutritional outcomes for farmers and the community. This Agrifoods Transformation video speaks to the multiple drivers, policy levers and indicators associated with the multiple types of transformation and asks pracititioners to answer these questions for themselves: 

  • What is it you are trying to transform?
  • What are the two-three critical facets of agricultural transformation that are priorities for your context?
  • What are the outcomes you hope to achieve in the country where you work?

Challenges and Drivers of Agricultural Transformation

Policy plays a critical role in agriculture transformation. The green revolution was primarily a technology driven transformation of agriculture production systems but with significant secondary effects. It facilitated broader structural transformation and significantly increased incomes and food security. Since the green revolution we have learned a lot about the breadth and depth of these processes. Over time the processes themselves have expanded and become more complex.

Consider the challenges you face in your context in agri-food system transformation and food security. It might be impact of agriculture greenhouse gas emissions; isolated or recurrnt extreme weather events; impacts of the sixth greatest extinction; or addressing the needs of inadequate food and nutrition insecurity.

In addition to the challenges, what are the drivers or outcomes of transformation you are working to address in your country context? These might include employment, inproved nutritional outcomes, improved gener outcomes, youth, alleviating food insecurity in urban slums and vulneralbe areas.

We need solutions that are based on both urban and rural complementarities to provide populations with livelihoods where they can grow and earn incomes.


  • Transformation takes complex forms and affects many systems

  • There are multiple drivers and measures of transformation, including policy levers; different drivers affect different systems differently

  • We need to understand we can’t get there the old fashioned way, but we can get there when we work toward a better on-farm/off-farm balance and increased emphasis on market systems

  • There are no easy answers, but inclusive, evidence-based dialogue is a big step forward

  • Policy is important for agriculture and food security pathways

Agri-food Systems Transformation and Food Security, James Oehmke, Ph.D., USAID