Several talks at this year's Hay Festival are by Oxford Martin School professors, covering topics including the future of food.

Professor Ian Goldin discusses his book, "Is the Planet Full?": Can our planet support the demands of the ten billion people anticipated to be the world’s population by the middle of this century? The Oxford Professor of Globalization and Development examines the intended and unintended consequences of population and economic growth.
Saturday 24 May 2014, 11.30am, Venue: The Telegraph Stage

Two of the contributors to Ian Goldin’s overview of the world’s population and resources address key issues: Professor Yadvinder Malhi takes a metabolic perspective on our human-dominated planet in "Bigger Than The Biosphere?"Professor Charles Godfray examines the practicality of food production in "Can the World Feed 10 Billion People (Sustainably & Equitably)?"
Saturday 31 May 2014, 11.30am, Venue: The Cube

Professor Sarah Harper discusses "The End of Population Growth?": While it is common to hear about the problems of overpopulation, might there be unexplored benefits of increasing numbers of people in the world? How can we both consider and harness the potential benefits brought by a healthier, wealthier and larger population? May more people mean more scientists to discover how our world works, more inventors and thinkers to help solve the world’s problems, more skilled people to put these ideas into practice
Saturday 31 May 2014, 10am, Venue: Good Energy Stage


By Alex Canepa.

In the midst of the acrimony surrounding the U.S. Congress’ decision to cut upwards of $8 billion from the SNAP (food stamp) program in the 2014 Farm Bill, many observers missed a significant new departure in American food policy - financial incentive for healthy eating.


Ethics of Food Security in a Changing Society – Learning from the Past to Shape the Future

24th September 2014 @Cumberland Lodge, Windsor Great Park

The conference will be followed by a public lecture for which the confirmed speaker is Professor Tim Benton, the UK Champion for Global Food Security.

Abstract submission:

Abstracts will be selected for poster and oral presentation according to their relevance with the conference’s core themes. Abstract submission will open on the 25th of April and close on the 1st of June.

Abstracts have to be sent to


By Kremlin Wickramasinghe

This week, the British Heart Foundation Centre on Population Approaches for Non-Communicable Disease (NCD) Prevention in the Nuffield Department of Population Health, University of Oxford was officially designated as the WHO Collaborating Centre on Population Approaches for NCD Prevention.


Listen to Professor Charles Godfray debate the Future of Our Food on this week's Costing the Earth on BBC Radio 4:

The panel is made up of experts from the world of food and agriculture:

Professor Charles Godfray from the Oxford Martin Programme for the Future of Food; Colin Tudge, the man behind the Campaign for Real Farming; new Groceries Adjudicator, Christine Tacon; Sean Rickard and economist who specialises in food and farming, and Tristram Stuart: winner of the award for 'Best Initiative in British Food' at last week's BBC Food and farming awards, the food waste campaigner behind the Feeding the 5000 and Pig Idea projects.

By Alexandra Löwe, University of Oxford
Malawi faces a set of unique challenges in its quest to ensure the food security of its smallholder farmers as a result of its dependence on a single drought-intolerant crop. Malawians consume more maize per capita than any other nation in the world, equivalent to two-thirds of daily calorie intake. This maize is produced domestically, almost exclusively by smallholder farmers, who struggle to meet their own consumption needs on dwindling land holdings of decreasing soil fertility. During the 1980s, the decline in maize production per capita was further aggravated by structural adjustment programs and the concomitant agricultural policies that saw the reduction and subsequent eradication of fertilizer subsidies, the dismantling of state marketing structures and the reduction of national food reserves. By the late 2000s, Malawi’s food system was in constant crisis and President Bingu wa Mutharika was widely praised for his decision to resist donor advice, and to reintroduce a large-scale fertilizer subsidy in order to increase domestic maize production. Initially, this Farm Input Subsidy Program (FISP) aimed to subsidize fertilizer for the 70% of smallholder farmers who were not able to produce marketable maize surpluses or even meet their household consumption needs. 

By Marika Mura, University of Warwick

Assan Mohamedi is a Tanzanian farmer. He lives in a small remote village 80km away from the city of Dar es Salaam, with his wife and 6 children, his mother, and the child of his dead brother. He has been a farmer for all his life, striving to bring enough food home and trying to give his children a ‘better future’, out of agriculture, through education. It has not been easy for Assan. The rain is getting more unreliable with the years, and the harvests that follow are scarce. His household is forced to find another source of income and to purchase food to survive. Assan, his wife, and two of his younger children cut charcoal and fetch water for other people, while his two older children left school looking for employment in the cities. Like the majority of the farmers’ households in this village, Assan’s family only consumes two meals per day and his household’s situation is common to other neighbouring households. They also share a common diffidence towards politics, convinced that nothing can improve their condition anymore. Farmers trapped in poverty. Farmers trapped in hunger.

What could agriculture offer them? How can they improve their life through farming? Why has agriculture become a synonym of poverty for this community of farmers? And how can politics foster a renewed agricultural sector and make these communities believe in agriculture?



The Food Climate Research Network has released a new FCRN discussion paper which considers the increasingly topical question of: ‘What is a sustainable healthy diet?’

The paper begins by highlighting the rationale for focusing on the diets question, and then moves on to discuss definitions of ‘good nutrition’ on the one hand, and ‘sustainability’ on the other. The main substance of the paper concerns itself with the major food groups that constitute UK’s Eatwell plate, examining the health and sustainability issues that their consumption raises, before drawing some conclusions. A review of recent studies in this area is also included. An important limitation of the paper is that it focuses largely on developed country contexts.

Download the Discussion Paper.


By: Chris Lander, DPhil Candidate in Geography and the Environment

Mr. Lander's research will be presented at the third annual Oxford Food Security Forum, taking place Sunday May 4, 2014 at St Antony's College.

With the effects of Global Environmental Change (GEC), the approach of ‘peak water’, and a world population that is increasing at a dramatic rate, the question of how the world is going to feed itself is dominant in the literature of those who are concerned with issues surrounding food security, and food sovereignty. Important to us as researchers, is where this food will come from, and we believe that major developments will continue to occur in the post-Soviet space, specifically Russia.


Professor Charles Godfray, Director of the Oxford Martin Programme on the Future of Food, recently gave the Florida Climate Institute distinguished scholar seminar sponsored by Kevin and Jeanette Malone on "The Role of Sustainable Intensification in Global Food Security".

You can watch his lecture on the University of Florida website.