The UK’s largest collective of applied economists and social scientists focused on the agri-food sector, the Agri-Food Economics and Social Science Research Division undertakes multidisciplinary research across the broad food chain. This encompasses food and agriculture policy, health and nutrition, and the environment.
Our applied research incorporates agricultural, environmental, and behavioural economics, focusing on issues central to higher and lower-income countries. These include: how to provide sufficient, safe, and nutritious food; the impact of agriculture on the environment; and, managing natural resources such as tropical forests for both livelihood and ecological benefits.
The applied nature of our work, in collaboration with NGOs, community groups, and national and international organisations, ensures that we have real-world impact. On a local level, our research benefits the communities that we work with. Globally, our academics are involved with major groups including the UK’s Department for Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs; the Food and Agriculture Organisation; Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development; and the European Commission.
Extreme heat damaging our health and economy
Professor Elizabeth Robinson is one of a group of leading doctors, academics and policy professionals to have contributed analysis to The Lancet medical journal's landmark report, The Lancet Countdown: Tracking Progress on Health and Climate Change. The 2018 report showed that rising temperatures as a result of climate change are already exposing us to an unacceptably high health risk and warned, for the first time, that older people in Europe and the East Mediterranean are particularly vulnerable to extremes of heat, markedly higher than in Africa and SE Asia. Read more.
'Polluter pays' food tax would hit poor the hardest
Dr Ariane Kehlbacher's research has shown that taxing foods based on the greenhouse gas emissions they produce would hit poorest households the hardest. That is because lower income households spend a larger share of their food budget on emission-intensive foods – such as meat – than their wealthier counterparts. Less well-off households also tend to buy cheaper products which means they would see a greater price hike on their weekly shop if emissions-based food taxes were to be introduced. See the original paper, which won a 2018 Research Outputs Prize for the Food theme, and read a blog post about the work.
Protecting rural livelihoods
Professor Elizabeth Robinson has been working on forest management and forest tenure reforms in Tanzania for over ten years.
Working closely with the NGO Tanzania Forest Conservation Group, the Environment for Development Tanzania Initiative, and the University of Dar es Salaam, her collaborative research into how changes in forest governance affect rural households’ livelihoods and forest ecosystem services has reached a broad audience of policy makers and practitioners.
Our postgraduate research students have many opportunities to undertake courses in food, agricultural or environmental economics, or international development and communication.
Many of our faculty are able to develop their teaching and research by undertaking extensive periods of fieldwork overseas.
For details of our study opportunities, visit: