Food Security

, Volume 10, Issue 3, pp 661–675 | Cite as

Research for development to improve health outcomes from agriculture for rural communities: what is needed?

  • Jenny-Ann Toribio
  • Richard Markham
  • Lucy Carter
  • Archie Law
  • Robyn Alders
  • Michael Dibley
  • Merrilyn Walton
  • Lucas Shuttleworth
  • David Guest
Original Paper


There is great potential through collaborative research to understand and address how multiple constraints impede outcomes from research for development in rural communities. However research frameworks, and tools used to monitor and evaluate them tend to be discipline-specific, and thus fail to capture the benefits of interdisciplinary research approaches. The aims of this paper are 1) to identify key agencies in Australia working at the intersection of agriculture and health in low- and middle-income countries, 2) to examine case studies presenting experiences at the intersection of health and agriculture, and 3) to identify approaches to overcome barriers to integrated research efforts, leading to more effective development outcomes. We identified key barriers including isolated and fragmented organisational cultures and capabilities, discipline-focused approaches, lack of multisectorial cooperation in programming, limited evaluation of how impact is measured beyond scientific output, poorly integrated monitoring and evaluation approaches and the failure to address economic empowerment of women and youth. To address these challenges we discuss a holistic approach to international development assistance that requires changes in thinking and action by organisations and individuals. These involve, for example, organisational capability development, interdisciplinary approaches, multisectorial cooperation in program planning, and integrated impact evaluation approaches.


Africa Asia-Pacific Interdisciplinary research International development Multidisciplinary research 



This work was funded by a Workshop Grant from the Sydney Southeast Asia Centre at The University of Sydney. We thank Chris Russell for chairing the workshop.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Sydney School of Veterinary ScienceThe University of SydneySydneyAustralia
  2. 2.Australian Centre for International Agricultural ResearchCanberraAustralia
  3. 3.CSIRO Land and Water, Ecosciences PrecinctDutton ParkAustralia
  4. 4.ActionAid AustraliaCamperdownAustralia
  5. 5.Sydney School of Veterinary Science and Charles Perkins Centre, School of Life and Environmental SciencesThe University of SydneySydneyAustralia
  6. 6.School of Public Health, Sydney Medical SchoolThe University of SydneySydneyAustralia
  7. 7.Forest Research, Alice Holt LodgeSurreyUK
  8. 8.Sydney Institute of Agriculture, School of Life and Environmental SciencesThe University of SydneyEveleighAustralia

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