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A novel and innovative PhD programme for students from temperate countries with skills in agriculture and agri-food chains searching for tropical regions contextualization and for students from tropical countries who seek to confront their contextualized competences with exposure to new technical and scientific knowledge, through an international training experience.The international PhD programme in “Agricultural Innovation in Tropical Food Chains” is jointly offered by the University of Lisbon’s "School of Agriculture (ISA, ULisboa)" and "Lisbon School of Economics & Management (ISEG, ULisboa)", in collaboration with the "National Institute for Agricultural and Veterinary Research (INIAV – State Laboratory)".The course is oriented to the transformation of tropical regions’ societies, through the development of a vital, competitive and sustainable agricultural sector.



A leading course providing high-quality theoretical, methodological and contextual education in tropical agriculture and value-chains to guide successful professionals, entrepreneurs and future development leaders in transforming societies through the development of a modern, sustainable and vital agricultural sector.


To offer advanced theoretical, methodological and contextual training and to promote original and internationally competitive research.To provide the integration of skills in agriculture, agronomic sciences and engineering, and economic science with knowledge related to the specificities of biological, environmental and economic resources, as well as with the societies of tropical regions.To innovate in the competitiveness of agri-food systems following a socio-ecological and integrative perspective of its particular value chains.

Understand the global dimension of human-environment interactions that underlies agricultural activity, and how the same process can explain different trajectories in distinct regions of the world:

  • Be proficient about the state of the art of agricultural innovation and management of natural and economic resources in the tropics

  • To know methodologies and tools to design and develop research and innovation that responds to questions about agriculture and tropical agri-food systems

  • Understand the multidimensionality that makes sustainable agriculture, food security and rural development not to be development problems for the South and agro-environmental problems for the North

  • Identify solutions that cross south and north contexts and promote the participation of the economies of tropical countries in local, regional and global systems

  • Adapt and implement contextualized solutions guided by diagnosis and critical analyses of trends, theories and experiences


African-farmer-standing-with-tablet-in-corn-field-examining-crop-at-sky.-Agribusiness-and-innovation-concept. Successful

Doctoral programme?

Recognition of University of Lisbon, holding the best national position in international rankings, an experienced faculty body engaged in prestigious Research Units, and high internationalization.

Historical and continuous links with teaching and knowledge transfer in tropical agronomy is a strong identity mark of ISA, supporting a "project- based teaching".

Participation in the Consortium of Schools of Agricultural Sciences (CECA), framed by UNESCO through the "International Center for Advanced Training in Fundamental Sciences of CPLP Researchers" that provides doctoral scholarships for students from African Portuguese Speaking Countries and East Timor (

Possibility to attend the PhD course in intensive regime, minimizing periods abroad and travel expenses.

Synergies through links with the AGRINATURA network, the Tropical Studies for Development Center (CENTROP), and the ULisboa’s Food, Farming and Forestry (F3) and Tropical (CTROP) Colleges.

Participation of ISA and ISEG in the European University UNITE! - University Network for Innovation, Technology and Engineering.

Synergies with international projects with tropical regions, in which the three institutions are involved, as well as joint collaborative work in the participating countries.

target audience

This Doctoral Programme is oriented to those who are interested in contributing to global issues with an impact or impacted by the development of economies in tropical regions, which are closely linked with innovation in the agricultural and agri-food sector.

  • Students from both temperate and tropical regions.

  • Masters or legal equivalent in agricultural, veterinary, biological, environmental, international economy and development sciences or related fields, including the possibilities set out in Article 27 b) and c) of "Despacho" 8631/2020, September 8, in accordance with point b) and c) of Article 30 of the Legal Regime of Degrees and Diplomas of Higher Education (RJGDES), DL 65/18 of 16 August.


Curricular Units

The programme comprises the accomplishment of 240 ECTS, of which:
- 204 correspond to research activities leading to an original thesis;
- 6 correspond to webinars for interaction between different cohorts;
- 30 ECTS correspond to a Doctoral Course based on the required attendance of curricular units (CUs) organised under a modular system during the first semester for critical debate of advanced topics, including the plan and development of a Thesis Project.
The first semester culminates with the discussion and assessment of the students’ projects in Research project, leading up to the registration of the thesis.

Doctoral Course

Curricular Unit * Lead scientific field ECTS Semester
Agriculture and Food Security for Development Agronomy 3 1
Integrated Resources Management Environment 3 1
Tropical Farming Systems Optimization Agronomy 3 1
Agribusiness for Rural Development International Economy and Development Economy, Strategic Management and Marketing 3 1
Research Project All 18 1

Interface and Thesis

Curricular Unit Lead scientific field ECTS Semester
Webinars I,II, III All 2+2+2 2, 4, 6
Thesis All 204 2-8

According to their specific research topic, in the remaining semesters, students can implement their thesis experimental work in any of the associated institutions.

* Curricular Units - Aditional Information

Agriculture and Food Security for Development


(Coordinated by ISA)Reasoning and coherence:Agricultural growth contributes directly to food security and socioeconomic development.Many of the least developed countries, particularly in sub-Sahara Africa, and in marginal production environments across the developing world, continue to experience low or stagnant agricultural productivity, rising food deficits, and high levels of hunger and poverty.Recognizing that, in countries from tropical regions, progresses and modernization in agriculture and whole agri-food chains are intimately connected and are the engine for economic development and poverty alleviation, this curricular unit aims at exposing students to updated concepts, analytical and methodological approaches and contemporary trends in the fast-evolving global and regional policies dealing with food and nutritional security and the global food system issues, under the particular lens of climate changes and understanding how food security and nutrition shapes policy analysis.Topics emphasized:1. The evolving concept of Food Security [and Nutrition] from the 1960s to the 2020s
2. Food Security and Nutrition quantification and analysis: indicators, indexes and methodological frameworks
3. Governance analysis of Poverty-Agriculture-Food-Health-Socioeconomic Development using Nexus and socioecological approaches
4. Interventions in agri-food Value Chains for Pro-Poor Development: transitions from subsistence to commercial family farming, accessing informal to formal markets
5. Land tenure, local knowledge and grassroots politics in agrarian societies from tropical countries
6. The central role of infrastructures, postharvest, food losses and food waste
7. Transitions in Food Systems and the Global Syndemics
8. Agricultural international trade and Global Value Chains: distortions and opportunities

Integrated Resources Management


(Coordinated by INIAV)Reasoning and coherence:Demographic pressures, climate change, diets transitions, and the consequential increased competition for quality land and water are likely to increase vulnerability to food insecurity particularly in Africa and Asia.Recognizing that tropical regions have particular structural problems in their natural resource base - including growing water scarcity and rising salinization and pollution of soil and water courses and bodies, soil erosion and exhaustion, and loss of biodiversity - and the deteriorating trends in the capacities of ecosystems to provide vital goods and services are already affecting the production potential of important food-producing zones, this curricular unit aims at developing skills for the use of diagnostic methodologies, analysis and implementation of solutions appropriate to the integrated assessment and management of natural and social resources for decision-making.Techniques, such as Environmental Footprint (EF), Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) or Sustainability Assessment of Food and Agriculture Systems (SAFA) are presented taking into consideration the existence of trade-offs between environmental needs and agricultural production under the specific context of tropical regions.Voluntary labels aimed at increasing value-added products or social impacts are also presented.Topics emphasized:1. Environmental challenges and specific context of tropical regions
2. Ecosystems services and management of natural resources
3. Biodiversity-oriented economy and the value of endemic species
4. Genetic resources management and methods for plant and animal breeding
5. Management of soil fertility and conservation under tropical climate conditions
6. Integrated management of water resources: planning, smart practices and reuse
7. Resources recovery from wastewater and wastes and agriculture
8. Environmental evaluation and certification methodologies: Life-Cycle Assessment, Environmental Impact Assessment, voluntary labels

Tropical Farming Systems Optimization


(Coordinated by ISA)Reasoning and coherence:Understanding that agricultural production technology in the tropics has lagged behind temperate-zone technology, despite the vast potential of tropical regions to nurture a vibrant agri-food sector, this curricular unit offers competences for advanced analyses frameworks and practices aimed at farming systems optimization.All contents are specifically contextualized to today’s tropical socio-ecological environments in recognition that agricultural technologies must be specific to the needs of tropical economies, and most importantly, most of the blockages to close yield gaps and to develop profitable value chains currently faced by today’s developing countries are distinct from those faced in the past by industrialized countries.Hence, appropriate technology and promising innovations to produce more with the appropriate use of inputs are presented for the most representative different farming systems in the tropics taking into account distinct pathways for changing crop production and yield optimization, with an emphasis on sustainable intensification approaches.Topics emphasized:1. Limiting factors for production and the yield-gap in tropical agriculture
2. Analysis and functioning of farming systems by region and agro-ecological zonation
3. Crop ecophysiology in the tropics and yield optimization
4. Sustainable agriculture production systems and farm operations: conservation soil mobilization and tillage
5. Sustainable agriculture production systems and farm operations: rain-fed farming, irrigation and fertilization
6. Sustainable agriculture production systems and farm operations: weeds control and plant pathology and protection under challenging tropical climates
7. Precision agriculture and mechanization
8. Livestock management and health in the tropics
9. Farm labor organization
10. Pathways for sustainable vs. ecological intensification of farming and agroforestry systems

Agribusiness for Rural Development


(Coordinated by ISEG)Reasoning and coherence:Northern countries represents a major growth market for tropical agriculture while the demand of tropical regions’ growing middle class provides a growing market for temperate agricultural and food products.Recognizing the world as increasingly serviced by a global food supply, integrated food systems and organized under global value chains, this curricular unit provides a theoretical framework to understand drivers and opportunities for producers in tropical countries to assume an important position within value chains on the basis of competitive advantages, giving producers’ a favorable negotiation position and is scoped to explore new ways of “doing business".Likewise, it provides training on entrepreneurship attitudes to foster jobs in agribusiness and enhance income growth, which promotes rural development. For that, understanding institutional set-ups to promote innovations and up-scaling on research and innovation capacities is an addition goal.Topics emphasized:1. Business models and entrepreneurship
2. Information systems and technologies for agribusiness
3. Agri-food innovation and marketing
4. Sustainability assessment of food and agriculture systems
5. Agri-food chains and value creation
6. Aquaculture and fishing value chains
7. Youth and gender empowerment in agri-food value chains
8. Stakeholders engagement

Research Project


After completion of this curricular unit, each students must have defined his/her research question, overall objective, specific objectives, tentative research experimental design and methods, expected research limitations (including possible ethical concerns), plus a complete literature review on the topic.

courses schedule

The participation in the CUs develops in a presential regime and will be concentrated in time (4 weeks, from mid January to mid February).Assignments, evaluation and participation in webinars will be supported by online tools, in order to facilitate attendance by international students, those from the global north and those from tropical regions.

Calendar 1st year / 1st semester
organised as intensive modules

Week Hours Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thurday Friday
Week 1 Morning (3h) Course 1 Course 1 - Course 1 Course 1
color text Afternoon (3h) Course 1 Course 1 - Course 1 Course 1
Week 2 Morning (3h) Course 2 Course 2 - Course 2 Course 2
color text Afternoon (3h) Course 2 Course 2 - Course 2 Course 2
Week 3 Morning (3h) Course 3 Course 3 - Course 3 Course 3
color text Afternoon (3h) Course 3 Course 3 - Course 3 Course 3
Week 4 Morning (3h) Course 4 Course 4 - Course 4 Course 4
color text Afternoon (3h) Course 4 Course 4 - Course 4 Course 4

faculty members

Faculty members engaged in courses and seminars

coordination / Scientific Committee

Amélia Maria Pereira Lopes (INIAV, I.P.)

Amélia Maria Pereira Lopes

José Manuel Cristóvão Veríssimo (ISEG-ULisboa)

José Manuel Cristóvão Veríssimo

Luís Filipe Sanches Goulão (ISA-ULisboa)

Luís Filipe Sanches Goulão




Calls are open!

Applications for 2024/2025 are evaluated in the following dates:

December 8th 2023
March 18th 2024
May 31st 2024