Agricultural production provides food, income, employment, foreign exchange as well as raw materials for the processing industry. Creating a sustainable agricultural development pathway leads to improving the quality of life in rural areas, ensuring enough food for present and future generations and generating enough income for farmers. Agriculture also stimulates demand for other products and services and employment opportunities that emerge to absorb the society’s workforce. Consequently, economic and environmental sustainability, adequate farmer incomes, productive capacity for the future, improved food security and social sustainability are important elements of countries’ agricultural development.

Rural development is a process integrated with economic and social objectives, which must seek to transform rural society and provide a better and more secure livelihood for rural people. Rural development, therefore, is a process of analysis, problem identification and the proposal of relevant solutions. This process is usually encompassed within a programme or a project that seeks to tackle identified problems. Whilst agricultural growth is a very important dimension of rural development, it is not enough on its own to ensure economic growth in rural areas. Other sectors come into play in the process of rural growth, such as health, education and economic activities.

In the wider context of agricultural and rural development, particular attention focuses on crops, livestock, fisheries and commodities. RSS – through its research initiatives – provides lessons for evidence-based decision making guided by indicators that promote good agricultural practices and technologies that are environmentally sustainable and raise rural incomes, such as:

  • Increases in agricultural production and productivity levels;
  • Generation of additional employment opportunities;
  • Increases in farm and overall household income;
  • Improvement in living and working conditions;
  • Improvement of access to productive assets such as land and capital;
  • Outreach to smallholder farmers to ensure better delivery of essential
  • Integrated pest management, soil and water conservation;
  • Agro-ecological approaches and agro-forestry;
  • Reducing vulnerability through capacity building and a comprehensive
    value chain approach;
  • Improving structural, organizational and technical framework to
    develop effective sector strategies;
  • Good practices for animal production in view of enhanced
  • Improved governance, monitoring, control and surveillance systems;
  • Adaptation to increasingly strong price volatility and international
  • Challenges related to market access for agricultural products;
  • Integration of agriculture and food security in overall development