Evolution of Social Science Research at ICRISAT, and a Case Study in Zimbabwe
Jane D Alumira, Ma Cynthia S Bantilan and Tinah Sihoma-Moyo

This paper consists of two distinct yet complementary parts. The first part analyses the evolution of social science research (SSR) at ICRISAT. It describes the initiation of SSR, its continued recognition and incorporation in the Institute’s research strategy, its structure, staff strength, collaboration and partnerships; and the constraints faced by SSR – including debates on relevance and performance, and how these have been dealt with within the Institute.


The second part was motivated by CGIAR’s thrust to enhance the contribution of SSR to sustainable agricultural development, food security and poverty eradication. It is a case study of livelihood diversification behavior among smallholder farm communities in Zimbabwe and illustrates how SSR contributes to livelihood analysis, targeting of research and development and informing policy.


It addresses several key questions: given the changing environment in the semi-arid tropics, what factors constrain rural livelihood? How do resource-poor smallholder farm households cope with these constraints? How do their coping strategies impact on farmer investment behavior? And what are the implications for targeting research and development?