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

Building Resilience Through Better Policies

Farmers, consumers, communities and countries face several types of shocks that can negatively affect their wellbeing and growth trajectories. These include stresses caused by weather fluctuations, natural resources depletion, pest and disease outbreaks, disasters, conflicts and political instability. Also, food price and market fluctuations driven by demographic change and inequity in income growth further threaten the poor who spend over 50 percent of their income on food. Responses to these potential shocks and stresses are needed at farm, community, national, regional and global levels. They include not only the development of new technologies and infrastructure investments but also new/improved institutions for better resource allocation and land tenure security, changes in policies to facilitate quality input provision, access to markets and trade opportunities, and capacity building among researchers and other stakeholders.

The Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Food Security Policy (FSP) focuses on institutions, policies and capacity building to address the goal of resilience. It achieves this through research to address critical evidence gaps for informing policy debate and formulation, enhancing the quality of policy processes and institutional architecture, and building local capacity to influence policy change. Here’s the multi-pronged approach this Innovation Lab has taken to build resilience through food security policy agenda.


Approach and examples

How it builds resilience?

Policy research and engagement in the entire agrifood system, from “farm to fork.” Research includes transformation issues at the farm level, such as land tenure system and farm size transformation, policies that govern the delivery, cost, and availability of quality farm inputs (fertilizers, seeds, herbicides) and output markets, and transformations driven by urbanization, diet change, and the rise of food processing and employment linkages.

See for example:

"Freedom of Crop Choice” Brings Prosperity to Myanmar’s Farmers

E-Vouchers Bring Welcome Choice to Zambian Farmers

How to Tell Fake From Real? Consequences of Rapid Herbicide Market Growth in Mali and West Africa

Research based evidence helps understand:

  • What, why, where and how structural transformations are taking place? What are the implications for productivity and employment, and needed policy change to enhance the positive or mitigate the negative trends?

Research based evidence helps design:

  • Better policies that increase farmer adoption of improved quality and climate smart technology, alleviate factor market constraints, help farmers diversify, provide access to markets, and reduce uncertainty—all of which increases farmer productivity, income, and resilience
  • Better land access reforms that increase farmer access to land and land rights incentive increases investments, equity, security, employment opportunities, and decreases conflicts – all help towards building an inclusive and resilient farming sector

Creating an enabling environment for private sector investment by supporting and promoting regulatory reforms to ensure private sector access to finance, markets, and enabling business environment, It also supports market forecasting models and tools for better investment decisions.

See for example:

From Paper to Digital: E-Payment Benefits Local Governments and Taxpayers

Coffee Means Cash

Regulatory reforms and better policies:

  • Increase private sector investments, healthy competition, government revenues, and economic growth.
  • Ensure functioning and efficient supply chains to move goods and services to target population during emergencies.


Research on policy systems and understanding the institutional architecture for policy formulation. Supports and promotes country and regional level multi-sectoral working groups, stakeholder consultation forums, and developing toolkits for practitioners for analysis of policy drivers (e.g., the Kaleidoscope Model).


Spinning the Kaleidoscope Model of Policy Change

  • Helps build resilient agricultural and food security policy making process at local, regional and country level through better communications, coordination, and sharing of research based evidence for timely response to shocks and emergencies.
  • Promotes understanding of policy system and trigger points to influence policy change.


Promotes capacity development through different types of country focused approaches such as: a) building partner capacity (technical) ; b) building system capacity in policy research and engagement (i.e., university, think tanks, civil society, journalists; and c) strengthening regional connectivity (peer learning) through Re-SAKSS, Agrodep, ReNAPRI, etc.

Some examples include:

Empowering an Agricultural Policy Research System: The Case of the Network of Local Centers

From Data Collection to Policy Implementation

“One Team” Approach to Accelerating Technology Adoption in Myanmar

  • Capacity to conduct research and generate evidence to challenge and feed into policy making and investment decisions
  • Promotes leadership in setting policy agenda and ownership to policy change process and outcomes



Better evidence, better policies, a transparent and inclusive process and stakeholder support help make timely decisions to respond to shocks and stresses. These is the end result the Innovation Lab for Food Security Policy strives to achieve.

This post was written by Mywish K. Maredia and Xinshen Diao.