This paper has two main objectives. Firstly, it provides an overview of trends in the magnitude, location and nature of rural poverty, with emphasis on least developed countries. Secondly, it offers new evidence that advances our understanding of rural poverty, by presenting quantitative analyses of the determinants both of rural activities and of income from farm- and non-farm sources drawing on data from FAO's Rural Income Generating Activities (RIGA) data base of 15 countries, complemented by demographic, health, production and income data from other sources. In order to reduce rural poverty, policies should concentrate both on improving household activities already available ' most prominently farming ' and on expanding the range of potential activities of family members. The lesson from experience and much of the rural development literature is that the income generating potential ' the ability to access and take advantage of activities ' depends crucially on access to assets, such as education, land, and infrastructure.