Stephen Whitfield

Stephen Whitfield

Associate Professor in Climate Change and Food Security at the University of Leeds.
For more information see:

Location United Kingdom


  • Hi @DanCollison. That's fantastic. it is great to have you and your colleagues on the course. I know that Farm Africa does some great work, and it would be wonderful to get your insights as you work through the course.

  • Hi Anna Maria, it is wonderful to have you on the course. I look forward to engaging with you over the coming days.

  • Hi Liveness. It is wonderful to have you on the course. I have good memories of visiting LUANR, and you will see that many aspects of the course draw inspiration from Malawi.

  • Welcome to the course @ColetteHurst I hope you'll be able to see a lot of connections between the content covered in the course and your in depth knowledge of nutrition.

  • Welcome to the course Belen. I look forward to engaging with you and learning more about the food system in Chile.

  • Hi Patience. It is wonderful to have you on the course.

  • Hi Rajeshwar. It's wonderful to have you on the course.

  • Welcome to the course Ruth. It's great to have you on board.

  • Hi Paige. It is great that you have found the course. I'd be very interested to find out more about your work and explore links with AFRICAP.

  • @HaddenWilliamTurner Good points about charcoal/woodfuel. Although important to recognise that some systems of characoal production and woodland management may be more sustainable than other. This is a good resource about the African charcoal sector, which you might find interesting:

  • @JoyceJ In this step we just present 1) the comparison of maize and soyabean (both without additional irrigation) and 2) the comparison of low irrigation and high irrigation maize

  • @HaddenWilliamTurner You're spot on. Excellent point about how small error margins become amplified over time - hence why we see the uncertainty ranges in climate models widen over time.

  • Thanks @MargaretKapyanga. Which aspects of the food system in Malawi do you think have been most impacted by the Covid pandemic?

  • Hi @RachelGreaves. Some great points. What impacts do you think these changes in consumer behaviour are having across other aspects of the food system... such as waste, nutrition, farmer livelihoods, and agricultural landscapes, for example?

  • @SergioGamboa. Very interesting that the government is intervening to reduce intermediaries in the supply chain. What kinds of actions are being taken?

  • Thanks @JoyceJ. There is a strong emphasis on consumer/demand-driven change in the food system here, especially in points 1-3. What impact do you see these changes having across other aspects of the system - like waste, nutrition, health, agricultural livelihoods, landscapes?

  • Welcome to the course Sergio. I;m looking forward to interacting with you and learning more about the food system context in Colombia.

  • Welcome to the course Cecil.

  • Hi Lucy. Great to have you on the course. I hope you are able to see the links between this content and the charity that you work for. It would be great to hear more about it and where it fits within the food system.

  • Welcome to the course Margaret. It's great to have you on board.

  • Welcome to the course Shadreck. I have good memories of visiting the GART centre at Chisamba a few years ago. I hope all is well there.

  • Hi Akunsitu. We are looking forward to interacting and learning from you too.

  • Welcome to the course Gloria. It's great to have you with us.

  • Welcome to the course Ching-Yee.

  • This is a really good point. It is very difficult to envisage and plan for future challenges for which there isn't familiarity (or even precedent). I think this is why there is value in having a really broad range of perspectives and stakeholders involved within scenarios workshops. There is a lot of value in learning across systems. Different people bring...

  • They have not been modelled as extensively, but projections do suggest that millet crops may be more suited to projected future climates in several parts of Africa.

    If you are interested, here is a detailed study (Rippke et al., 2016) that models and compares multiple crops across Africa:

  • Yes. Certainly in some contexts land management practices may be as, or more, important than choice of crops. It's a good point. But, of course, context is really important. If the prevailing climate conditions move outside of the viability window for a certain crop, for example, then land management strategies alone may not be enough to make that crop viable.

  • Yes. the complexity of the climate system, and of crop responses, mean that they can be very sensitive to small changes. When using models, it is important to understand and have a realistic expectation of what they can and can't tell us (and with what degree of certainty).

  • Yes. Models are, by nature, a simplification of the complex reality of climate processes/crop growth, and the benefit of them is that they can reproduce these simplified simulations across time and space. The question of how complex a model should or should not be, really depends on how we want to apply them and what questions we want to ask of them.

  • Thanks Audrey. Yes, the ability of models to replicate past observations (of climates and crops) is a good indication of their accuracy and skill. But, as you say, this does not always translate into accuracy and skill when it comes to projecting forward to future novel climates and conditions.

  • Good points. We'll look at this issue of uncertainty in future climates in more detail, and what it means for food systems to be resilient in the context of climate uncertainty.

  • @CousinsGwanama Good questions. Of course change within the food system happens at multiple scales from seasonal/local/temporary changes to long term/large scale/permanent transformations. But one aspect of taking a systems perspective is to change at any scale can be significant - they can have unpredictable interactions and knock on effects across the system.

  • Thanks @DianaOnyango. You make some really important points about the power dynamics within food systems and this has implications for how equitable they are - from household right through to regional and international scales.

  • Thanks @damienhindmarch. Some really good examples of multiple and interacting drivers of change to supply chains.

  • Thanks @MengistuSeketeti. Would you be able to say more about how you see the markets exploiting the most vulnerable?

  • Hi Aniebiet. Welcome to the course. It's great to have you on board.

  • Yes. This is a really good example of why it is useful to take a full food system perspective. The challenge of micro-nutrient deficiency is inextricably linked to the challenges of storage and perishability - and therefore the market costs and risks to the producer - of fruits and vegetables.

  • Yes, and we will go on to look at how projected future climates is impacting the suitability of maize, under both rain fed and irrigated production systems. In week 2, we will also think about the extent to which diversifying production (beyond an over-reliance on cereals) can bring benefits and costs across the food system.

  • Suzanna. Really good point about the ever-changing nature of food systems. As you say, there are often multiple factors driving change at one time, but these are dynamic and often unpredictable. As we go through the course, we will think more about the properties of a resilient food system in the context of uncertain change.

  • Some great points. Really important to recognise that contemporary food systems are the product of an (often political) history. Also really important to recognise that people of different ethnicities, cultures and geographies may have very different experiences of the same food system. These experiences may even be in direct conflict, as in the case of...

  • @SonjaWoodcock Really interesting that there is greater demand than supply for local urban produce. Do you think that demand can ultimately drive fundamental changes in the system, or are the supply constraints too great to overcome?

  • Thanks @MademboConnie. It is interesting to think through the implications of different agricultural production systems. We will do some more of this in week 2. But what do you think are some of the benefits and costs for farmers of mixed crop-livestock production in Zimbabwe?