Understanding the links between agriculture and health

Understanding the links between agriculture and health

Corinna Hawkes, ed., Marie T. Ruel, ed.
2020 vision focus

Policymaking initiatives in agriculture and public health are often pursued in a parallel and unconnected fashion. Yet coherent, joint action in agriculture and health could have large potential benefits and substantially reduce risks for the poor. Among development professionals there is growing recognition that agriculture influences health, and health influences agriculture, and that both in turn have profound implications for poverty reduction. This recognition suggests that opportunities exist for agriculture to contribute to better health, and for health to contribute to agricultural productivity. To take advantage of these opportunities, however, it is crucial to understand the precise linkages between the two sectors. How do the linkages work? Where do opportunities for joint action lie, and what are the impediments? How can the agricultural and health sectors work together more closely and thereby contribute to addressing poverty?

To help increase the synergies, IFPRI and its sister centers in the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) have begun an initiative on agriculture and health. Part of this initiative is promoting better coordination of health-related research among CGIAR centers and various partners in the health sector. The linkages between agriculture and health are dynamic and complex, and working across sectors presents significant institutional challenges.

The policy briefs presented here draw on a wide body of research conducted within and outside the CGIAR. They provide a historical context to the links between agriculture and health, deal with specific health conditions and agricultural systems, and examine the challenges to linking agriculture and health in policy. We are grateful to editors Corinna Hawkes and Marie Ruel, as well as to the contributors, for their valuable insights on the multiple, bidirectional linkages between agriculture and health.

Joachim von Braun, (former) Director General
Rajul Pandya-Lorch, Head, 2020 Vision Initiative


1.Overview / Corinna Hawkes and Marie T. Ruel;
2. Agriculture, Food, and Health: Perspectives on a Long Relationship / Tim Lang;
3. Agricultural Technology and Health / Michael Lipton, Saurabh Sinha, and Rachel Blackman;
4. Agriculture and Nutrition Linkages: Old Lessons and New Paradigms / Corinna Hawkes and Marie T. Ruel;
5. Agriculture, Food Safety, and Foodborne Diseases / Ewen C. D. Todd and Clare Narrod;
6. Agriculture, Malaria, and Water-Associated Diseases / Clifford M. Mutero, Matthew McCartney, and Eline Boelee;
7. Agriculture and HIV/AIDS / Stuart Gillespie;
8. Occupational Health Hazards of Agriculture / Donald Cole;
9. Livestock and Health / Maria Angeles O. Catelo;
10. Fish and Health / Nanna Roos, Md. Abdul Wahab, Chhoun Chamnan, and Shakuntala Haraksingh Thilsted;
11. Agroforesty, Nutrition, and Health / Brent Swallow and Sophie Ochola;
12. Agrobiodiversity, Nutrition, and Health / Timothy Johns, Ifeyironwa Francisca Smith, and Pablo B. Eyzaguirre;
13. Urban Agriculture and Health / Diana Lee-Smith and Gordon Prain;
14. Agriculture, Environment, and Health: Toward Sustainable Solutions / Rachel Nugent and Axel Drescher;
15. Agriculture and Health in the Policymaking Process / Todd Benson;
16. Opportunities for Improving the Synergies between Agriculture and Health / Robert Bos.