Global Academy of Agriculture and Food Security


The vision and mission of the Global Academy of Agriculture and Food Security

handful of rice crops
Copyright: istock/joakimbkk

These challenges occur in low and middle income countries, as well as industrialised nations. The University of Edinburgh and its partners already make significant contributions to tackling these issues at national and global levels. The joint submission from the University and Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC) in the Agriculture, Veterinary and Food Science unit of assessment to the last Research Excellence Framework exercise (REF2014) was ranked top for research power in the UK.

Tackling these global challenges requires a global step-change in the scale and impact of education, research, and translation. The University is investing around £35 million in the new Global Academy of Agriculture and Food Security.

These funds will enhance our provision of targeted education, training, research, innovation and consulting, to contribute to global food and environmental security, sustainable rural development, and animal and human wellbeing. 

Our Vision is: Sustainable development in global agriculture and rural land-based and aquatic economies.

Our Mission is: To provide world-leading research, innovation, education, training and consulting, in support of global food and environmental security, sustainable rural development, and animal and human wellbeing.

Achieving this through:

  • Interdisciplinary teaching programmes intended to bridge theory, policy and practice.
  • Research that develops and translates scientific advances into policy and practice.
  • Partnerships across academia, commerce, government, civil society and local communities to form equitable relationships across the global North and South.
  • Communities of practice that advance interdisciplinary collaboration and understanding.
  • Novel teaching and research activities and approaches, through open, cross and trans-disciplinary partnerships across our Schools and Colleges and with partner institutes.

Our feature and interview by Prof Simm in the University's Annual Review - find out more

Key themes

  1. Agri-Food Systems Innovation - Transformation of global agri-food systems is central to achieving food and environmental security. It is also a key to moving hundreds of millions of people out of poverty, and achieving eight of the UN Sustainable Development Goals.  We will investigate and promote innovation in complex food-supply systems to deliver healthy and sustainable diets, to drive the transformation towards resilient and sustainable food systems, and support growth in the wider bio-economy. 
  2. One Genetics - Genetic improvement has had a dramatic impact on the availability, cost and environmental footprint of food produced in industrialized nations over the last 70 years, but has had only limited impact in many Low and Middle Income Countries (LMICs).  We will investigate integrating novel genetic and genomic technologies for sustainable improvement of productivity and resilience in key LMIC livestock and crop systems.
  3. One Health - Human, animal, crop, soil and environmental health are inextricably linked, especially in LMICs.  We will investigate improvements in ‘agri-health’ most likely to impact on human health and wellbeing.  This will include novel approaches to predict and control crop and livestock disease outbreaks, including Geographic Information Systems/’internet of things’ applications, optimizing systems for food and nutritional security and human health.
  4. One Planet – We will investigate ‘Climate Smart’ agri-food systems – systems that are resilient to climate and environmental change, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions intensity. Areas of interest include reducing waste, enhancing effective nutrient use and production through understanding genotype x management x environment interactions, capitalising on animal-plant-soil-microbe interactions, and developing more resilient crop and livestock systems.

We will also work to better understand and promote the equitable and effective uptake of appropriate agri-food knowledge and technologies globally, by policymakers, user groups, and the public.