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Review article2020Peer reviewedOpen access

Conceptual frameworks linking agriculture and food security

Nicholson, Charles F.; Kopainsky, Birgit; Stephens, Emma C.; Parsons, David; Jones, Andrew D.; Garrett, James; Phillips, Erica L.


Many conceptual frameworks have been developed to facilitate understanding and analysis of the linkages between agriculture and food security. Despite having usefully guided analysis and investment, these frameworks exhibit wide diversity in perspectives, assumptions and application. This Review Article examines this diversity, providing an approach to assess frameworks and suggesting improvements in the way they are specified and applied. Using criteria-based systems modelling conventions, we evaluate 36 frameworks. We find that many frameworks are developed for the purpose of illustration rather than analysis and do not clearly indicate causal relationships, tending to ignore the dynamic (stability) dimensions of agriculture and food security and lacking clear intervention points for improving food security through agriculture. By applying system modelling conventions to a widely used framework, we illustrate how such conventions can enhance the usefulness of a framework for overall illustration purposes, delineate hypotheses on agriculture–food security links and examine potential impacts of interventions.

Published in

Nature Food
2020, Volume: 1, number: 9, pages: 541-551

      SLU Authors

    • Parsons, David

      • Department of Agricultural Research for Northern Sweden, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences
      • University of Tasmania

    UKÄ Subject classification

    Food Science

    Publication identifier


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