Topic Guide: Agricultural productivity

This guide examines how agricultural productivity has been raised in developing countries and the economic and environmental consequences


This Topic Guide provides an overview of the ways in which agricultural productivity has been successfully raised in developing countries, It draws on the available evidence base, and highlights areas where important knowledge gaps still remain.

The Topic Guide begins in Section 2 by defining key concepts and measurement approaches related to agricultural productivity, then in Section 3 provides a global review of past patterns of production growth and the contributions of productivity growth. Section 4 explores the sources of productivity growth, including the role of agricultural research in developing new technologies and management practices, and the social and economic constraints that may prevent their widespread adoption. Section 5 reviews the evidence on how improved technologies impact on the poor, both within the areas where the technologies are adopted and through spillover benefits or costs that may affect wider populations. Section 6 examines the impact of new technologies and farming practices on the environment, while section 7 addresses the specific problem of restoring prior levels of agricultural productivity in conflict areas. Throughout, special attention is given to the implications for women and poor farmers, and the types of policies that can facilitate better productivity, economic, social and environmental outcomes. Section 8 provides some concluding comments.

This Topic Guide has been produced by Evidence on Demand with the assistance of the UK Department for International Development (DFID) contracted through the Climate, Environment, Infrastructure and Livelihoods Professional Evidence and Applied Knowledge Services (CEIL PEAKS) programme, jointly managed by HTSPE Limited and IMC Worldwide Limited.


Hazell, P. Topic Guide: Agricultural productivity. Evidence on Demand, UK (2014) 50 pp. [DOI:]

Topic Guide: Agricultural productivity

Published 1 January 2014