Rural livelihoods within global supply chains: Food waste and recovery in East Africa from global supply chains to local food systems

Grantham Scholar Dr Jonas Cromwell now works at the Faculty of Environment, University of Leeds, where Grantham alumni Dr Carol Auma already works. At the Grantham Centre he researched how food produced by farmers in East Africa becomes waste and how/if waste is being re-integrated into food systems.

The project

With a rising world population, producing and distributing enough food to feed everyone creates many challenges for the food industry.

Jonas tells a tale from the global south
Jonas tells his tale about avocados, race and gender

In the present state of growing concern over global food insecurity, coupled with the associated environmental burden of food production, there is a recognised need to address food waste, which is estimated to account for one-third of global food production.

There is clear evidence that supermarket power in global supply chains influences waste at the farm gate, which contributes to a global problem of food and environmental unsustainability. At the same time, local level interventions by farmers and others push back against these forces to keep rejected food from becoming waste.

Using ethnographic methods, this project seeks to understand firstly how food produced by farmers in an East African context is shaped by such political economies to become waste. And secondly how that waste is being re-integrated, or not, into local scale food systems operating within the region. It is hoped that the research findings will help to inform future policy-making and practice particularly, by drawing out lessons for the overall and equitable reduction of food waste in international supply chains.

Outreach and blogs

Along with his fellow Grantham Scholar Eunice Oppon, Jonas worked on a Defra funded food waste project. Together they created an approach that considers the social impact of food redistribution and the resource value of food. If you want to know more, then you can read Grantham Scholars, food waste & Food Works.

Jonas gave a special story-telling presentation about avocados at Tales from the Global South. This talk gave an insight into the avocado market and livelihoods in Tanzania. Look here for more information and a link to a video of the event.

Jonas has written a series of blogs on food waste, food poverty, and the organisations trying to combat them. You can find all the blogs here.

Grantham Scholars – Jonas CromwellGloria MensahYe Jiang, and Eunice Oppon – went to Anne Grove Primary School. Their aim? To try help reduce food waste in schools. Look here for the blog they wrote about their work.

In 2016, Jonas attended the alumni event at the Royal Society. The event focused on sustainable ways to feed the world. Read: Eating insects and feeding 10B: TUoS alumni at the Royal Society by Jonas Cromwell.

Social media

You can find Jonas on Twitter. And you can find him on LinkedIn.


Dr Megan Blake

Department of Geography


Dr Claire Quinn

Sustainability Research Institute, University of Leeds

Dr Stephen Whitfield

Sustainability Research Institute, University of Leeds