Ravinder [user:field_middlename] Kumar

Ravinder Kumar

Associate Professor - Monitoring and Impact
Natural Resources Institute, University of Greenwich
United Kingdom

I have experiences in international development and research relating to poverty, livelihoods, food and nutrition, agriculture, natural resource management, integrated water resource management, land tenure governance, responsible business investments, social enterprises and sustainability certification in agriculture commodities. Following are 7 areas of significant experience and expertise:

i. Provided monitoring and evaluation support to organisations and programmes in many sectors of international development, including international agricultural research and nutrition through the CGIAR system
ii. Conducted sustainability research in different agricultural commodities (oil palm, cotton, soybean, cocoa, cashew, groundnut, rubber, sugarcane) – focusing on social (which included food and nutrition security), economic and environmental dimensions.
iii. Facilitated design and implementation of monitoring, evaluation and learning systems, in rural livelihoods, agriculture, food and nutrition security, fisheries, forestry, integrated water resource management, social protection, social inclusion advocacy and women empowerment.
iv. Supported value chain development of agricultural commodities, building agriculture commodity supply chains for corporates, providing business development services to farm based enterprises including farmer producer groups and farmers’ co-operatives.
v. Conducted large-scale /complex evaluations using a range of methodologies and approaches –range of large scale, complex /multi-country programme, process, performance and impact evaluations, using both qualitative and quantitative methods– statistical analysis, outcome mapping, contribution tracing /analysis, theory of change based impact evaluations, experimental (randomised control trial) and quasi-experimental research etc. Also conducted organizational strategic reviews and institutional assessments.
vi. Facilitated programme design and evidence-based planning processes.
vii. Implemented development project: large scale implementation of integrated water resources management, agriculture value chains and local economic development projects.

Long term experience in India; professional experience in 14 other countries in East and West Africa, South and South East Asia – Bangladesh, Cambodia, Ethiopia, Ghana, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Nepal, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, Uganda, Malawi, Zambia.

My contributions

    • Many thanks Daniel for your grounded, thought provoking and inspiring response. You have really hit the nail on its head.  The moot point is that the current performance metrics for agroecology often fail to take the type of multifunctional approach and benefits of agroecology. It sounds obvious that we need harmonized (as Jilian indicated) and at the same time context-relevant approaches that can adequately measure the performance of agroecological systems towards poverty reduction, human health, and environment. Many examples that you have cited and the story of inspirational farmer (Mr Zepheniah Phiri) are all indicative of the potential of agroecology if rightly understood and implemented. In many academic debates, agroecology is cited as a political agenda of anti-capitalist and deindustrialization activists. There is clearly a need for proving that the pursuit of agroecology is worth all the investments that are currently being undertaken. Your post provides a useful answer to arguments that questions the need for ‘agroecology’. We need to improve both our understanding and application of agroecology as well as multifunctional approaches to measure the ‘worth’ of agroecology. A way to go, indeed!


      Thanks and Best,


    • Dear participants, 

      Thank you all for your contributions. Here are my responses and I look forward to hearing more from you and members of the EvalForward community insights and experiences. 

      Jillian, thanks for sharing this highly relevant paper as it analyses and summarises the development in the field of measuring agroecological transitions at farm /household and landscape /food systems level. The paper is a ‘must’ read for those working on the intersection of implementing, researching and measuring agroecology impacts. And as the paper says, “there will never be a perfect tool or framework for assessing agroecology that can meet every objective in all possible contexts”, therefore we need to discuss and debate differing perspectives and experiences around the key questions of ongoing methodological experiments /innovations in different context (including measuring agroecology at landscape /food system level which the paper found to be less prevalent) but also any demonstrative empirical evidence that prove /disprove the worth of agroecology. Will be great to hear such perspectives /experiences from EvalForward community. 

      Dushyant, thanks for providing this idea on possibilities of using satellite data at village /farm level to track change in agroecological transitions at farm level. I am intrigued and would be great if you can share an example where this was done at this scale (farm /village). This would be hugely beneficial for programmers /researchers /M&E professionals to understand where this has been achieved and how this approach can be applied to track agroecological transitions. 

      Dario, thanks for summarising utility of TAPE in understanding agroecology transitions and in creating demonstrative evidence on agroecology contribution to poverty, human health and environment. In Nutrition Research Facility project, we have taken considerable inspirations from TAPE in developing our methodology for assessment of agroecology interventions in the context of an EU programme in Madagascar. This is a quasi-experimental (difference in difference approach) research for which baseline was conducted in 2022 and we intend to carry out the endline research in 2024/5 to see the effects of agroecology interventions. Apart from a household survey (n=1695), we have deployed a qualitative approach to understand all the factors that hamper or promote agroecology at farm or food systems level. These factors in the Malagasy context are – insecure land tenure status, land fragmentation and conflicts, shifting pattern of agriculture production, low quality and high costs of agriculture inputs (seeds, agrochemicals), insecurity and theft of crop and livestock, limited collectivisation and negotiating power of producers, limited storage solutions, scarcity of manure, limited financial linkages and indebtedness of producers, low women empowerment status (agency, opportunities, and outcomes). These and many other challenges encountered by the producers limit their ability to apply agroecology principles and practices. One of our key insights from this research – for agroecology to achieve poverty, human health and environmental outcomes, constraints to its adoption would have to be resolved. This would require understanding of and finding solutions to context-specific challenges. The question is whether the agroecology programmes are designed in flexible and holistic ways to understand and address these context-specific challenges?   

      Ram, thanks for very useful inputs to this ongoing debate /discussions. Community scorecards is an excellent idea, which the FAO’s TAPE methodology also incorporate. In our research in Madagascar, we have used community score card methodology in focus group discussions on several elements of agroecology such as resilience, synergy, farm workers welfare and rights etc. In the household survey also, some kind of a score card is used as a 5-point scale is used to assess different aspect of agroecology. This has been useful in quantifying the status of agroecological transitions. We are expected to use community score card methodology again in 2024/5 when conducting endline research in Madagascar and therefore will be able to assess how far these agroecological transitions are taking place and more importantly, how these transitions (if underway) are contributing to poverty reduction, human health and to the enviornment. Will come back on this forum to share the results of this research. 

      Regarding your other points, it will be interesting to hear more from you in terms of how (and where) you have used these indicators and what are the results indicating in terms of the value or worth of agroecology related interventions as this is also one of the point under discussion.     

      Many thanks Expedit for sharing your experience and Abdoulaye for reinforcing the message about  the value of TAPE. Interesting to know that you have used TAPE in several studies in Benin. It will be truly great if you are able to share further on these experiences, in terms of what adaptations you have carried out in TAPE to address context specificities and what empirical evidence you are getting in terms of proving /disproving worth of agroecology related interventions. These insights would provide useful lessons to this community to understand and design better methodologies to measure agroecology. 



  • Innovations can take different forms, including technological (probably the most obvious), organizational, business, social and policy. They also can involve overarching systems. This understanding is critically important when evaluating innovation.

    Business innovations can have a profound impact on low-income populations, sometimes referred to as Base of Pyramid (BoP) populations. These innovations may be designed to address development problems faced by BoP populations, such as smallholders (<0.5 ha land) who lack access to essential extension services, market access, modern farming inputs, technology and finance. They may take the form of a product (e.g., low cost solar drier for crops), a technology

    • Dear Paul and Bassirou,

      Thanks for raising very pertinent issues. In my evaluation practice, I have seen KM as either not part of programming or working separately (or shall I say ‘remotely’, the catch phrase now a days!) from M&E function with the twin hardly communicating to each other. Hope and wish success to your initiative /experiment of bringing them under one unit or initiating some form of convergence. As you both acknowledge, KM and M&E have different roles and skills required. Synergies are possible but tensions are inevitable. How these are managed in an integration process would determine how successful and effective it is.  Needless to say that consistent role divisions and clear lines of communication between different members of the ‘one unit’ would be the key. More so as M&E evidence is likely to feed into KM processes. Sometimes KM would be selective in terms of communicating some M&E evidence, which can also create some sticky points for independently minded M&E team members. Sometimes KM would demand ‘stories of success’ from the M&E and programme teams. Conversely, for a M&E and programme team, KM function is crucial for uptake and behaviour change (generally outcome level results), and therefore expectation would be that KM would have the necessary capabilities to relay evidence through user-friendly infographics and other tools, using traditional media, social and new media to reach target audience better. Further, a programme and M&E team would expect that there is consistency and continuation of communication for increasing the staying power of messages and for sustaining the momentum of programme level uptake. KM may perceive this expectation as somewhat undue and so ensuing tension would need to managed. Am sure that you are aware of all these issues and are on course to achieving reasonably smooth convergence of KM and M&E, which nonetheless is a challenging proposition.

      Thanks and Best,


    • Thanks Svetlana, Silva and others for this interesting conversation. We all seems to agree that the use of ToC in programme conceptualisation and also in programme evaluation is gaining currency. Since it’s a fairly recent phenomenon, in the last decade or so, when a large number of programmes and organisations have started incorporating ToC in their way of working, it might be too early to say what difference it has made to these programmes /organisations (I have not come across a study on the impact of the use of ToC!). To my mind, based on my experience of working with several programmes and organisations, three cohorts may exist on how ToC are being used:

      1. ToC have become deeply ingrained: This cohort used ToC in all aspects of programme planning, implementing and tracking. You may agree that this won’t be dominant cohort, say about 10% programmes and organisations.  
      2. ToC is used sparingly /occasionally but still somewhat usefully - This is likely to be a dominant cohort (say 50%) i.e. a large proportion of programmes and organisations are using ToC sparingly but still somewhat effectively. What it means that programme design include conceptualisation of a ToC. Further annual review and programme evaluations are based on the ToC. ToC is constantly improvised as well, whenever a review or evaluation take place in this cohort. However, in this cohort, motivation of use of ToC is externally driven and programme monitoring systems are not based on a ToC, which also limit the rigour with which reviews and evaluations can be done.  
      3. ToC is used perfunctorily: In this cohort, ToC may or may not exist. A ToC may be designed as some donor demanded it but not used thereafter. If there is not demand, a ToC may not exist. However, ToC may be developed when an evaluation is commissioned, generally by an evaluator. Programme or organisation still do not know about or see value in the ToC and consequently do not ‘own’ it.    

      The situation will obviously change in the future as more and more agencies and programmes start gaining from use of a ToC. First and second cohort may increase therefore. However to speed up the change, I guess, two strategies might be useful:

      1. Strengthen capacities for conceptualisation of programme theories of change: Demonstrating utility of ToC is incumbent upon how well a ToC is framed, capturing programme logic and realities of the context. Capacities to develop robust ToC can be strengthened in multiple way, one of which could be to initiate Evaluability Reviews (ERs) of programmes. ERs have potential to improve programme design and associated M&E systems.
      2. Sensitise key constituents on ToC – As any change in thinking and working would require a ‘buy-in’, obviously ToC way of working would require that key constituents (donors, policy makers, organisations implementing programmes etc.) understand the need for ToC. Herein a community of practice such as Evalforward and others can continue to engage and facilitate conversations and demonstrate /showcase how use of a ToC can help in better programme design and in results-based management and may be other benefits as well.


      Thanks and Best,