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Impacts of improved animal parasite control on community-led markets for sustainable food

PhD project title and outline, including interdisciplinary dimension:
Impacts of improved animal parasite control on community-led markets for sustainable food

Parasites are ubiquitous in animals, and affect the productivity of livestock, and the quality and safety of food derived from them. Control of parasites in commercial livestock relies heavily on chemical use, which has adverse environmental impacts and is failing through drug resistance. More creative and sustainable solutions are available, but existing market and quality assurance structures rarely favour them. This project will engage with producers and consumers in new ways to investigate how better understanding of factors such as food choice can influence, and be influenced by, farmer practices in the control of animal pests and parasites. Further, the project will investigate the role that food safety, quality and perceived environmental and moral benefits play in such choices, and how distance between consumer and producer affect them and their consequences. Fieldwork will be based at sites in Cameroon and south-west France, supporting international mobility, language skills development, and peer learning for sustained impact after the project. Co-produced solutions for sustainable and integrated control of production-limiting parasites (e.g. feeding of bioactive forages, grazing management and breed improvement) and of zoonotic diseases such as cysticercosis (e.g. through proper inspection, preparation and preservation of meat products) will be scientifically evaluated for their efficacy. This will include calibrating, applying and validating system dynamic models to integrate available farmer-ready tools to maximum effect, extending existing biological frameworks to include farmer behaviour and motivation. Impacts of parasite control innovations on food choice and value will be assessed, as well as the extent to which farmer-led approaches fit within existing regulatory and legal frameworks. Outcomes will be exploited by project partners to drive and support constructive change in farming methods and dietary choice and quality.

Primary supervisor: Professor Eric Morgan (Biological Sciences)
Secondary supervisor: Professor Moira Dean (Psychology)
Third supervisor: Dr Brian Jack (Law)
External Partner/Organisation: Taste Cameroon