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
  • natural resource depletion

Facing these challenges should be informed by cross-disciplinary research and collaborative partnerships. Our research is investigating the interactions between:

  • health
  • nutrition
  • rural livelihoods
  • governance
  • food supply chains and markets
  • the environment

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. 

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.

Our collaborations

We are collaborating with the African Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources Policy Analysis Network through the GCRF-AFRICAP programme.  

On the ACRES programme, we are working with Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources and Kulima Integrated Development Solutions, a consultancy organisation dedicated to preparing the way for securing climate-resilient sustainable development in Africa.

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.

Professor Tim Benton is Professor of Population Ecology and Dean of Strategic Research Initiatives. His research focuses on biodiversity, resilience and food security. From 2011-2016 he was UK Champion for Global Food Security and is the principal investigator of the GCRF-AFRICAP programme.

Professor Andy Dougill is a Professor of Environmental Sustainability in the Sustainability Research Institute. He has researched the sustainability of sub-Saharan farming systems for over 25 years. His research develops environmental assessment approaches that integrate local and scientific knowledge, and link to national policy analysis.

Professor Andy Challinor is a Professor of Climate Impacts, leading a variety of work on climate smart agriculture and the application of climate-crop impact models, including for the Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) Research Programme.

Dr Susie Sallu is an Associate Professor of Environment and Development in the Sustainability Research Institute. Her research is interdisciplinary and focuses on rural livelihoods, environmental change, marginalisation and natural resource governance in Africa.

Dr Lea Berrang Ford is the Research Chair in Climate and Health in the Priestley International Centre for Climate at Leeds, jointly appointed between the faculties of health and environment.

The Food and Livelihoods in the Global South theme draws on Leeds’ research strengths in food and nutrition, rural livelihoods and natural resource management, supply chains, plant sciences, climate science, hydrology, and more. A particular focus is on developing early career researchers with multidisciplinary interests.

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

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