John Thompson

John Thompson

Research Fellow

John Thompson has worked on power, policy and sustainability issues in food and agriculture, water resource management and rural development for nearly 25 years, in both developing and industrialised countries.

He joined IDS in October 2006 as a Research Fellow and serves as Joint Co-ordinator of the Future Agricultures Consortium, which aims to encourage critical debate and policy dialogue on the future of agriculture in Africa and other developing regions.

Previously, he served as Director of the Sustainable Agriculture and Rural Livelihoods Programme of the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED), London, and Director of Research and Development of Just Food, New York City. Thompson has authored more than 60 peer-reviewed articles, technical papers and reports, and is author and co-editor of several books.

In addition, he has sat on several international task forces, advisory panels and editorial boards, and has worked as a Research Associate at the National Environment Secretariat, Kenya, a Research Fellow at Clark and Harvard Universities, USA, and a Fellow at the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis, Austria.

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Ghana Development Hub

The Ghana Development Hub, part of the IDS International Initiatives, provides focus in a geography at the leading edge of development thinking and practice due to accelerating environmental, economic, pollical and social change. It recognises that tackling challenges such as climate change,...


Future Agricultures Consortium

Future Agricultures is a network of researchers on agriculture and food policy in Africa, formed of more than 100 people working in 12 countries across Africa and in Europe.



Obituary: Saleemul Huq, a passionate voice for climate justice

The recent sudden death of Saleemul Huq on 28 October 2023 has shocked and saddened thousands of people who were touched by his zeal, kindness, generosity of spirit and gentle humour. All have been inspired by his vision and deep commitment to making the world a better place. His work and...

Terry Cannon
Terry Cannon & 4 others

2 November 2023


Covid-19 and food security: What is the way forward?

Covid-19 is having a major impact on livelihoods and food security across the globe, with women and those who work in informal economies often the hardest hit. This is the focus of our latest Research for Policy and Practice Report on ‘The impact of Covid-19 on livelihoods and food security’...

7 July 2021


Journal Article

Insights into Smallholder Capacity for Agricultural Commercialisation: Evidence from Four African Contexts

The European Journal of Development Research

Over the last 15 years, the agricultural economics and development literature has amply highlighted success stories of smallholder farmers in developing countries, illustrating their increased engagement and integration with markets, in other words, higher rates of commercialisation. Yet, this...

Amrita Saha
Amrita Saha & 2 others

13 July 2021


The Impact of Covid-19 on Livelihoods and Food Security

Research for Policy and Practice Report

Studies of livelihoods and food systems since the start of the global pandemic in 2020 have shown a consistent pattern: the primary risks to food and livelihood security are at the household level. Covid-19 is having a major impact on households’ production and access to quality, nutritious...

John Thompson
John Thompson & 5 others

30 June 2021

Journal Article

Food Politics and Development

World Development Vol 134

Food has become both a pivotal topic in development and a lens through which to integrate and address a range of contemporary global challenges. This review article addresses in particular the interrelationship between food and sustainable, equitable development, arguing that this is...

Melissa Leach
Melissa Leach & 5 others

19 June 2020

John Thompson’s recent work

Past Event

Migration and mobility in Ghana and beyond: considerations for post Covid-19

This event will examine recent research on migration and mobility in Ghana and West Africa, and discuss its implications and future trajectory. Watch the video Four experts in the field will present completed and ongoing research on movement...

26 May 2021


In memory of Professor Ephraim Wadonda Chirwa

Professor Ephraim Chirwa, the Director of Research-Africa of the Agricultural Policy Research in Africa (APRA) Programme and a founding member of the Future Agricultures Consortium (FAC), passed away after a sudden illness on the morning of 15 July 2019. An economist by training (with...

18 July 2019


Rural Futures

Through our research, policy engagement, teaching and training, we support the emergence of development pathways that deliver both greater social justice and sustainability for rural people and places, while recognising their important interconnections with urban areas and the links between...