Food in the Global South

Our research aims to build sustainable and secure food systems in the Global South. To achieve this we need to transform our approaches to agriculture and food systems.

Achieving food security in the Global South is a crucial development goal which can lead to improvements in public health and increased economic growth. However, this goal faces many challenges, including changing cities, population growth, global market fluctuations, poverty, social inequalities and injustices and natural resource depletion.

Facing these challenges should be transformed by cross-disciplinary research and collaborative partnerships. Our research is investigating the interactions between health and nutrition, rural livelihoods, governance, food supply chains and markets and the environment.

"The University of Leeds has a breadth of research expertise in Food Systems and is partnering with FANRPAN and organisations across Africa to contribute to making food and agriculture systems in sub-Saharan Africa more productive, sustainable and resilient to climate change."

Sithembile Mwamakamba, Climate Smart Agriculture Coordinator, FANRPAN

Our projects

The GCRF-AFRICAP programme investigates the sustainable transformation of agriculture and food systems in southern Africa. It also looks to build capacity across research and policy for achieving these transformations. The programme is run in collaboration with stakeholders in Zambia, Malawi, Tanzania and South Africa. Register your interest in the AFRICAP project.

AFRICAP is a key partner in a new £2 million Africa-UK research network: Food Systems Research Network for Africa (FSNet-Africa), led by the University of Pretoria. This programme, funded by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) and African Research Universities Alliance (ARUA), utilises interdisciplinary research to develop a new understanding of the African food system, tackling global challenges of disease, poverty, climate change, and food insecurity. 

The Agricultural Climate Resilience to El-Nino in sub-Saharan Africa (ACRES) project investigates the effects of El-Nino on cropping choices, yields and post-harvest losses of farmers in southern Kenya and southern Malawi.

The Role of African Small-scale Farmers in Global Food Sovereignty Challenges project engages small scale farmer organisations in Ghana and Tanzania in co-producing research agendas.

AfriCultuReS aims to design and develop an integrated agricultural monitoring and early warning system for food security, through the application of geospatial science and remote sensing technology.

The AMMA-2050 project aims to understand how the climate in West Africa will change in the future, the impacts on food and water security, and the most effective adaptation options.

The 'VOICES: Valuing Orchard and Integrated Crop Ecosystem Services' project evaluates the relationship between orchard and farm management and pollinator species in South Africa. 

Our collaborations

Our researchers work with a variety of external collaborators, including:

Research institutions and universities:

  • The Climate Change, Agriculture, and Food Security (CCAFS) of the CGIAR
  • International Centre for Maize and Wheat Improvement (CIMMYT),
  • Worldwide Universities Network
  • University of Pretoria (South Africa)
  • University of Ghana
  • Cape Coast University (Ghana)
  • University of development Studies, Tamale (Ghana)
  • University of Dar es Salaam (Tanzania)
  • Sokoine Agricultural University (Tanzania)
  • University of Zambia
  • Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources (Malawi)
  • Malawi University of Science and Technology

Policy and policy advocacy organisations:

  • Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources Policy Analysis Network (FANRPAN)
  • Chatham House
  • Agricultural Consultative Forum (Zambia)
  • Economic and Social Research Foundation (ESRF)
  • Civil Society Agriculture Network (Malawi)
  • National Agricultural Marketing Council (South Africa)

Meteorological agencies:

  • UK Met Office
  • Zambia Meteorological Department
  • Department for Climate Change and Meteorological Services (Malawi)
  • Tanzania Meteorological Authority

Non-governmental and boundary organisations:

  • Kulima Integrated Development Solutions
  • The 510 Initiative of the Netherlands Red Cross 

Our leading researchers

Dr Stephen Whitfield is Associate Professor in Climate Change and Food Security. He leads a theme of work under the GCRF-AFRICAP programme and is a co-investigator under the ACRES programme. He has particular interests in the socio-politics of agri-food systems.

For enquiries about Food in the Global South, email or phone +44 (0)113 343 7996.