Agrifood Economics

Sustainable markets, agribusiness and rural transformations (SMART)



Agrifood economics is the foundation of the work performed by the sustainable markets, agribusiness and rural transformations (SMART) team of the FAO Agrifood Economics Division (ESA). It aims to improve agrifood systems, increase food security and enable evidence-based decision-making in countries where poverty and hunger are highest, national capacities are limited, or operational difficulties are greatest due man-made crises or high exposure to natural hazards.

The focus of the SMART team is on the economic analysis of the actors and their functions in agrifood systems, examining how factors such as market demand and supply, prices, government policies, digital innovations, vulnerability and capacity of actors, and environmental factors affect processes of inclusion, resilience, sustainability, and transformation of agrifood value chains.

By applying agrifood economics principles and methods, SMART can help to identify and develop policies and interventions that promote sustainable agriculture and agrifood systems and increase income and employment opportunities. Together with governments and other stakeholders, SMART analyses agrifood value chains, assesses the impacts of public policies and provides analytical assistance for capacity building and policy reform. The overarching goal of the work fostered by SMART is enhancing competitiveness of the various value chain actors, boosting commercialization, improving livelihoods and employment generation, and promoting sustainable agrifood systems transformation.

SMART main goals

  • To unlock growth potential for the agrifood sector and promote sustainable and inclusive transformations in countries by providing targeted analytical support.
  • To develop evidence-based tools for policymakers to strengthen decision-making on the agrifood system. This entails working with national governments and other stakeholders to generate practical policy recommendations.
  • To provide Member Nations and partners with reliable and rigorous evidence that strengthens common global goals and vision in support of the agrifood system, through sharing knowledge and building capacity.


Hand-in-Hand (HIH) Initiative

Launched in 2019, the Hand-in-Hand Initiative supports the implementation of nationally led, ambitious programmes to accelerate agrifood systems transformations by eradicating poverty (SDG 1), ending hunger and malnutrition (SDG 2), and reducing inequalities (SDG 10). HIH uses advanced geospatial modelling and analytics, as well as a robust partnership-building approach to accelerate the market-based transformation of agrifood systems — to raise incomes, improve the nutritional status and well-being of poor and vulnerable populations, and strengthen resilience to climate change. The SMART team co-leads the implementation of this FAO flagship initiative in the Latin America and the Caribbean region, improving the coordination and building on existing structures and synergies with national agricultural policy priorities in 13 countries and one regional initiative on the Central American Dry Corridor. Likewise, the team works closely with potential resource partners throughout the process all the way through monitoring and evaluating the Initiative’s performance.

Technical Network on Poverty Analysis (Think-PA)

Since 2019, a cross-divisional Technical Network on Poverty Analysis is mobilized to help strengthen FAO and its partners' capacities to mainstream poverty analysis its main areas of work. With poverty primarily found in rural areas where livelihoods significantly rely on agriculture, FAO is poised to lead in reducing the problem. The network, coordinated from the SMART team, is available to provide support across technical units and country offices on developing studies that assess poverty and related indicators (food security, living income benchmarks, vulnerability); support targeting processes based on geographical and microdata information; and designing and implementing surveys and the application of household and/or farm typologies, depending on each project's needs. The network has developed e-learning courses and guidelines and disseminates methodologies and knowledge through its webinar series.