Agriculture, Rural Development, Food Security

Most of the world’s poor live in rural areas. Pro-poor transformation of rural economies requires increasing agricultural productivity and efficiency along value chains, diversifying economic activity, and integrating the rural economy into the broader economy through sound market systems. And for the rural and urban poor alike food security is rooted in sufficient, sustainable income.

In helping to achieve this rural transformation, Nathan Associates emphasizes the private sector as the engine of growth and the public sector as the enabler of growth through sound policies and effective delivery of public goods. Our assistance is grounded in deep understanding of

  • The nature and complexity of farming and rural livelihood systems,
  • The rural investment climate,
  • How the rural poor manage risk,
  • The dynamics of trading in cross-border market chains governed by standards and systems,
  • Market performance and failures, and
  • Governance and institutional constraints and opportunities.

The expert staff of Nathan Associates London Ltd

Analyze rural sector policies and develop sector strategies

Our policy analyses shape reforms, rural sector strategies, and investment projects, taking into account a country’s political economy and stage of development, linkages between the rural economy and the wider economy, and the impact of policy on value chains and farms.

Develop and apply market-based approaches to rural development

We use the Making Markets Work Better for the Poor (M4P) approach, which addresses market failures by supporting and promoting systemic change in how markets work. Through value chain and market system analysis, we identify constraints in agricultural markets, including input and output markets, and develop solutions that change the structure of incentives so that market interactions benefit the poor. M4P can have spectacular results through successfully aligning business incentives with development objectives.

Manage and support development programs that engage the rural poor in the market economy 

We manage challenge funds, value chain interventions, and agricultural support services and help redefine public and private sector roles through organizational reform and change management, with emphasis on participatory approaches and market linkages.

Advise on and provide technical assistance to diversify economic activity in rural areas

We analyze the rural economy to find options for growth that will provide jobs and incomes for the poor. This includes assessing the political economy, competitiveness gaps, value chains, and the institutional capacity of public and private sector stakeholders.


Our U.S.-based economists advance food security by

  • Advising on policies that affect farmers, processors, traders, retailers, and consumers
  • Strengthening food value chains
  • Providing producers and food industries the know-how to compete in domestic and foreign markets
  • Linking food and agricultural markets by helping entrepreneurs take advantage of trade agreements
  • Developing regional approaches to food security
  • Facilitating food trade and transit
  • Assisting with regulatory adjustments to meet standards for food safety and shipments.

Nathan Associates London Ltd. is a member of the consortium supporting Evidence on Demand, an information hub for development practitioners established by the UK’s Department of International Development (DFID). The hub provides access to documents, training material, and expertise on the climate and environment, infrastructure, and livelihoods in developing countries. 

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