SLU news

An untapped potential - rainfed agriculture requires attention and investment

Published: 05 December 2023

Rainfed crop and pasture systems dominate agricultural practises globally. They support over 60% of biobased food and over 95% of feed and pasture for animal-sourced food including dairy and eggs. Rainfed agriculture is highly dependent on climate variations and farming practises. Four examples of intensification of rainfed systems are given in a new report, edited by Jennie Barron (SLU) and Anna Tengberg (SIWI). These serve as emerging evidence that positive change can be achieved.

Food systems need to become more productive and nutritious for a growing global population, whilst being environmentally sound, and withstanding climate change. Rainfed agriculture is therefore a critical production system that holds large potential to sustainably intensify globally and locally, but often lacking attention and investments.

This report provides evidence of action in rainfed agricultural systems for four case studies of scaling best practises in small and medium size farming in India, Central America, Ethiopia and Brazil. The aim is to provide knowledge for future investments and scaling of sustainable intensification in rainfed production that holds evidence on both yield and income gains, whilst improving field to landscape ecosystem services.

The cases present the initial issues, the actions and practises promoted onfarm, outlining the investment sources and actors involved, over period of 10-30 years to show impact to scale. The purpose is to identify impact pathways that will increase the production capacity of rainfed systems.


This report was developed under grant agreement with FAO (ref number 342559). Additional support was provided by SLU.