Pathways in and out of poverty for farmers in India and Kenya

Urban meets rural as a woman herds goats as the Tansi Nagar subdivision grows nearby.

Towards a Relational Approach to Agency for Mapping Pathways Into and Out of Poverty

Date: October 2016 – April 2019

Pathways into and out of poverty are complex. In the 21st century, global poverty is compounded by climate change, conflict and inequality, as well as social exclusion by gender, race, and class.

This project aims to understand the pathways in and out of poverty for farmers in Kenya and India, and explore their collective capacity to bring about transformative change. Arguably, farmer-led transformations on the farm and the market were critical in the Asian ‘Green Revolutions’, from the 1960s onwards. Although ‘Green Revolution’ approaches have been tried elsewhere, they have not always succeeded.

The research will develop concepts and methods for an innovative ‘relational agency pathways approach’, drawing on Science, Technology and Society studies and the STEPS pathways approach.

Locations and methods

The project team will use mixed methods (ethnographic life histories, archival data and Multi-Criteria Mapping (MCM) to trace and assess relational pathways into and out of poverty constituted by changing technologies, natural resources and social worlds, as experienced by people of different genders and castes, in Tamil Nadu, India.

The approach will be tested and further developed in the field in Machakos County in Kenya, where several attempts have been made to get a Green Revolution off the ground, but none are considered successful.


The project is funded by the ESRC-DFID Joint Poverty Alleviation Scheme.

Project team


Image: Goat herding in Tansi Nagar / McKay Savage, Flickr (cc by 2.0)

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