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Professor Peter Dorward


Areas of interest

Innovation and smallholder agriculture. Areas of particular interest include:

  • Developing climate services and approaches to support farmer decision making
  • Promoting smallholder adaptation and developing resilience to climate variability and change
  • Understanding decision making in smallholder households and implications for innovation and support
  • Participatory approaches for facilitating farmer innovation in smallholder farming systems
  • Extension and communication for smallholder farming systems
  • Participatory varietal selection of crop varieties and strengthening local seed systems
  • Integrating improved soil management within smallholder farming systems
  • Promoting agricultural innovation in post-conflict areas
  • Participatory natural resource management
  • Improving smallholder livestock production in the context of integrated systems

Postgraduate supervision

I supervise PhD research student projects in these areas and teach postgraduate modules on Participation and Development. I have carried out research for a variety of funders in Africa, Asia, the Caribbean and Central and South America. Research publications are listed at the foot of this page.

Research projects

Recent and current research projects (since 2014) on climate services, innovation systems and agriculture that I have been Principal-Investigator or Co-Investigator for include:

  • Traits and technologies to boost North African protein self-sufficiency (BEANS4N.AFRICA). 2017-2019. UK Research Council (BBSRC GCRF). Co-I Responsible for the social science component of the project.
  • Participatory Integrated Climate Services for Agriculture (PICSA) as an approach to improving climate services for farmers in Lesotho. 2017-2020. UN IFAD and Government of Lesotho. PI.
  • The potential for PICSA in Guyana and the Caribbean. 2016-2017. Caribbean Institute for Meteorology and Hydrology (CIMH) & USAID. PI.
  • Climate Services for Agriculture: Empowering Farmers to Manage Risk and Adapt to a Changing Climate in Rwanda. 2016-2020. IRI & USAID. PI.
  • Developing and adapting PICSA approach for agricultural systems and climate in Rwanda and scaling out to cover all districts. Integrating novel meteorological components and researching factors influencing scaling out. PI.
  • Global Framework for Climate Services Adaption Programme in Africa - Support Development of Tailored Climate Services across timescales, responsive to needs of farmers in target GFCS project districts, Tanzania and Malawi, 2015 -2016. CCAFS and CIAT. PI.
  • Developing and testing mobile Apps for communicating climate and weather information and as decision support tools for farmers and advisors. 2015. CCAFS, ILRI. Principal Investigator. PI.
  • CASCAID (Capacitating African Smallholders with Climate Advisories and Insurance Development). 2015-2018. ICRAF, CCAFS. Principal Investigator. Part of larger project. UoR component also involves Statistical Services Centre (SSC) and focusses on improving forecasting, Met. data analysis, use of satellite information, and communication and farmer planning and decision making tools. Across four countries in West Africa. PI.
  • Review of use and potential for mobile Apps for use in communicating climate and weather information. 2014. CCAFS, ILRI. PI.
  • Innovation systems, agricultural growth and rural livelihoods in East Africa. 2012 -2014. ESRC-DFID. Working in three countries (Uganda, Kenya and Sudan) to investigate agricultural policy and compare with innovation systems operating in practice. Estimated economic impact of agricultural innovation and sought to understand and describe innovation processes and effects. PI.
  • Research on climate change in East Africa. Phase 2 of Rockefeller Foundation grant. School of Agriculture, Policy and Development component. 2012-15. Investigated the processes used by and information employed in government and non-government organisations in the planning of (climate) adaptation programmes. Developed and tested novel framework for planning. Co-I.
  • Developing and evaluating communication approaches and materials for climate services. 2014. CCAFS, CIAT. Creating and testing approaches for use with agricultural extension and NGO staff and smallholders. PI.
  • Scaling up delivery of novel climate services for small-scale farmers in Tanzania and Malawi and researching effects and processes. 2014-15. Global Framework for Climate Services (GFCS), CCAFS. Participatory Integrated Climate Services for Agriculture (PICSA) approach developed in earlier research projects, implemented and tested at scale. Working with national Meteorological Services, government Agricultural organisations and NGOs. Processes of communication and use of information and tools researched together with effects on smallholder farmers behaviours. PI.
  • The effects of smallholder farmer's investment in agricultural innovations on livelihoods. 2013. ICRISAT. Longitudinal study of smallholder decision makers through a year together with case studies u to investigate direct and indirect effects of use of a range of innovations on income, food security and measures of wellbeing. Malawi. PI.
  • Scaling up climate services for farmers in Africa. 2014-15. USAID. Investigated the current needs for and national capacities to deliver novel climate services to smallholder farmers in 6 countries in Africa (Burkina Faso, Ghana, Mali, Kenya, Tanzania & Malawi). Cross cutting findings on research requirements and role of climate services identified. PI.
  • Estimating the impact of edutainment on agriculture and livelihoods and investigating its role in agricultural innovation systems. 2014-15. African Enterprise Challenge Fund. Edutainment TV programs claim to have had significant impact on behaviours of millions of farmers in Kenya. AECF commissioned a study to estimate impact on production and to investigate the Influences on innovation processes. PI.


I have led the development of a novel climate services approach, Participatory Integrated Climate Services for Agriculture (PICSA), which is becoming widely used in developing countries (approximately 20 to date).

  • International organisations supporting and using the approach include:
  • The World Food Programme (WFP)
  • International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD)  
  • United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

We work closely with government departments and NGOs in countries.

Independent evaluation has found that high proportions of households have improved their livelihoods as a result of the PICSA approach. Research is continuing to further develop aspects of PICSA. A field manual can be downloaded from Field Manual and an evaluation of the first year of implementation in Rwanda from final.pdf


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