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Tony Binns Staff photo

Research interests

Tony's doctoral research in 1974 was on the relationships between rural development and diamond mining in Sierra Leone, since when he has travelled and researched extensively throughout Africa. His research is mainly concerned with resource development and poverty alleviation, with particular reference to the dynamics of indigenous farming, pastoral and fishing food production systems. His recent work has focused on community-based development initiatives in South Africa, post-war community reconstruction in Sierra Leone and Sri Lanka and urban agriculture in sub-Saharan Africa and Vietnam. His work in the Pacific region is concerned with the role of the church in development in Samoa and community-based adaptation to climate change.


Urban and peri-urban food production
The growing of food crops in urban and peri-urban areas of poor countries makes a valuable contribution to both food security and poverty alleviation. With initial funding from the Natural Resources Institute (UK), and in close collaboration with the Department of Geography at Bayero University, Kano (Nigeria), a detailed field survey was undertaken of urban and peri-urban agriculture in Kano city.

A workshop was held in Kano in 1999, to bring together a number of other empirical studies on urban agriculture. Papers have been published subsequently with colleagues in both Kano and the University of Gloucestershire (UK). Doctoral student, Roy Maconachie, completed his thesis on the question of land degradation at the rural-urban interface in the Kano close-settled zone. Four other doctoral students have studied aspects of urban agriculture in sub-Saharan Africa; Samuel Boakye evaluated the significance of urban agriculture in Tema, Ghana, Danny Simatele worked on urban agriculture in Lusaka, Zambia, whilst Alec Thornton investigated urban agriculture as a poverty alleviation strategy in post-apartheid South Africa. Emaediong Uko investigated planning policies towards urban agriculture in two southern Nigerian cities (Benin and Uyo).

In January 2005, Tony conducted field-based research on urban agriculture in Hanoi, Vietnam with Otago Masters in Planning student, Brody Lee, and Alan Dixon (Otago), and in 2007 undertook preliminary field-based research in Samoa with post-doctoral fellow Alec Thornton (Otago). Otago PhD student, Jessie Smart, has worked on urban agriculture in the Zambian Copperbelt towns of Kitwe and Ndola.

In July 2004, Tony was invited to become a member of the Advisory Committee of AGROPOLIS, International Research Awards in Urban Agriculture, based at the International Development Research Centre (IDRC), Ottawa, Canada. From 2010, Tony was involved with Etienne Nel (Otago) and collaborators at the Universities of Zambia and the Copperbelt, in a project funded by the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT) on, The significance of urban agriculture in food security and sustainable livelihoods in response to economic restructuring in Zambia's Copperbelt Province.

See more on Tony's Further research interests page


Matteucci, X., Filep, S., Bateman, J., & Binns, J. A. T. (2024). African diaspora tourists' experiences of wellbeing. In H. Konu & M. K. Smith (Eds.), A research agenda for tourism and wellbeing. (pp. 197-211). Cheltenham, UK: Edward Elgar. doi: 10.4337/9781803924342 Chapter in Book - Research

Binns, T., Nel, E., Dixon, A., & Lynch, K. (2023). Africa: Diversity and development. London, UK: Routledge, 496p. doi: 10.4324/9780429028403 Authored Book - Research

Bangura, K. S., Lynch, K., Binns, T., & Gbanie, S. (2023). Facing post-crisis livelihood challenges? Insights from young farmers in Kenema city, Eastern Province, Sierra Leone. Land Use Policy, 134, 106875. doi: 10.1016/j.landusepol.2023.106875 Journal - Research Article

Uko, E., Binns, T., & Nel, E. (2023). ‘I lost my job suddenly, but I was prepared’: The significance of urban and peri-urban agriculture in Benin City, Nigeria. Agroecology & Sustainable Food Systems, 47(1), 25-46. doi: 10.1080/21683565.2022.2124474 Journal - Research Article

Binns, T., & Bateman, J. (2022). ‘Resilience without development’ in a remote rural West African community: The case of Kayima, Sierra Leone. Journal of Modern African Studies, 60(3), 297-322. doi: 10.1017/S0022278X22000179 Journal - Research Article

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