School of Natural and Environmental Sciences

Staff Profile

Dr Francisco Areal

Senior Lecturer in Agricultural Economic



Telephone: 44 (0) 1912085272 

Centre for Rural Economy, Agriculture building, Newcastle University Newcastle upon Tyne, Tyne and Wear NE1 7RU, United Kingdom

Francisco Areal is a Senior Lecturer in Agricultural Economics at the Centre for Rural Economy, School of Natural and Environmental Sciences. Francisco joined the Centre for Rural Economy at the School of Natural and Environmental Sciences in April 2019. Francisco's research focuses on the interaction between agriculture, the environment, economics and society by applying statistical and econometric methods to answer questions of policy relevance for agriculture and the environment. More specifically, Francisco is currently working on developing farm sustainability indicators; developing econometric methods to account for social connectivity (e.g. interdependence of individuals’ preferences) and unobserved heterogeneity in consumer's and producer's choices.

Previously Francisco worked as Associate Professor and Lecturer in Environmental Economics at the University of Reading 2011-2019. Before he worked at the Joint Research Centre – Institute for Prospective Technological Studies in Seville, Spain and at the Central Science Laboratory in York (currently known as the Food and Environment Research Agency –FERA-).

Francisco is currently working in 1) eliciting the economic value of goods and services provided by nature using environmental valuation techniques; 2) developing models to account for unobserved heterogeneity. Francisco has recently led a project on achieving sustainable intensification using remote sensing in China funded by Agri-Tech in China Newton Network. Francisco has also worked on a wide number of nationally and internationally funded projects including FP6-SIGMEA, FP6 CO-extra, Defra's funded Sustainable Intensification Platform, and Innovative UK funded Knowledge Transfer Partnership with Aramajaro, amongst others.  


Author/co-author of 37 international journal articles (14 as lead or corresponding author), 12 book chapters and reports with >70 co-authors from 22 countries (averaging a rate of 3.5 publications per year since completing my first publication in 2004)

Google Scholar H-index: 18 based on >1,000 citations

Google Scholar i10-index: 23

Academic roles and positions

Francisco regularly participates as invited expert for the OECD network on farm level analysis of productivity and has advised research funding agencies such as ESRC.

Francisco is currently acting as Guest Associate Editor of Frontiers in Sustainable Food Systems - Land, livelihoods and Food Security on the research topic "Special Dependency, spillovers and farm efficiency"

Francisco is currently acting as Guest Editor of the special issue of Sustainability on "Sustainability of farming in future: Developing of sustainable intensification". 

Francisco has acted as Guest Editor of the special issue of Resources on "Sustainable indicators for environmental management"

2003-present Member of the Agricultural Economics Society

2013-present Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (HEA) 

2014-present Member of the Eurochoices Advisory Board

2015-present Member of the Editorial Staff Committee "Economía Agraria y Recursos Naturales"

2017-2020 Member of the "ESF College of Expert Reviewers" - European Science Foundation

2013-2017 Member of the Executive Committee of the UK Agricultural Economics Society

2011-2014 Member of the European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists 

Francisco has acted as PhD examiner of 9 PhD candidates. 

Francisco has co-supervised to completion 3 PhD students, supervised students 20 MSc students and 40 undergraduate students. Francisco is currently co-supervising 4 PhD students and 5 undergraduate students.


Francisco's research has covered five main areas: efficiency analysis, performance of genetically modified (GM) crops and evaluation of coexistence policies, sustainability, food security and development, and consumer behaviour in food consumption. More specifically:

a) Efficiency analysis:

Developing analytical methods to incorporate environmental outputs (e.g. ecosystem services) and spatial aspects into technical efficiency analysis.

Francisco has worked along Mr. Philip Jones (University of Reading), Simon Mortimer (University of Reading) and Paul Wilson (University of Nottingham) in a project funded by Rural Business Research on developing sustainable intensification indicators derived from farm efficiency analysis.

Francisco has contributed to the Sustainable Intensification Platform (SIP) a Defra funded project. The SIP focuses on the simultaneously increasing farm output and competitiveness, whilst protecting the countryside and enhancing the environment. In particular my role with other members of the University of Reading (Prof. Richard Tiffin, Dr. Simon Mortimer) and Dr. Frederic Ang was to develop metrics of sustainable intensification.

b) GM crops:

Francisco has work on evaluating economic and environmental performance of GM crops as well as associated policies. In this area Francisco has recently worked on developing ways to incorporate probability functions into composite indicators. This has been applied to calculating the probability of environmental impact of GM crops vs conventional crops.

He has also worked on examining the effect of coexistence measures to avoid cross-fertilisation between GM and conventional crops on GM crop adoption in the EU as well as analysing the distances needed to limit cross fertilisation between GM and non-GM maize in Europe.

Recently, he has conducted consultancy work for Fundación ANTAMA on the role of genetically modified soy as a raw material in the EU. A number of alternatives to the use of genetically modified soy were assessed to analyse the economic impact to the Spanish fodder industry and livestock farming sector of a potential EU ban on the imports. The report can be found here. More recently, he has conducted a second report for Fundación ANTAMA on the "Benefits of Bt maize in Spain (1998-2015). Benefits from an economic, social and environmental viewpoint.". This second report can be accessed here

c) Sustainability:

Francisco has worked on developing metrics of Sustainable Intensification (SI). He has worked intensively in this area through projects funded by Rural Business Research and Defra's Sustainable Intensification Platform. Francisco has developed ways to obtain distributional metrics of SI.

Analysing the sustainability of olive farming in Spain. Francisco has worked on understanding farmer's views on the future of olive farming incorporating spatial econometrics to provide propositions on what elements should be taking into account when designing agricultural policies aiming at guaranteeing the sustainability of olive farming in future.

Francisco has worked on estimating the value to society of green energy produced by an offshore wind farm in Greece. This work also identified  drivers behind people's willingness to pay for this type of green energy.

d) Food security and development:

Francisco has contributed to the Africa Enterprise Challenge Fund (AECF) funded project on measuring the impacts of an edutainment TV programme, Shamba Shape Up, on the adoption of innovation systems by smallholder farmers in Kenya and social benefits.

Contributing to research on development economics in the area of food security and understanding the adoption of agricultural practices by small holding farmers.

e) Consumer behaviour in food consumption

Recently Francisco has collaborated with Caroline Harkness to investigate the economic value to consumers of low acrylamide content in baby food.

Francisco also worked as Knowledge Base Supervisor of a Knowledge Transfer Partnership project -collaboration between Armajaro and the University of Reading-. The project investigates relationships between remote sensing and real crop (ground data) in order to create a predictive system for crop production potential.

Francisco has also worked on:

1) Estimating the economic value of trees susceptible to a quarantine disease (e.g. Sudden Oak Death)

2) Analysing the effects of international trade of cut flowers to the introduction of invasive species in the UK

3) Analysing the impacts of the American mink (Mustela vison) on marketable native species: Salmon (Salmo salar) reared in fish farms using ecological-economic modelling

4) Conducting a cost-benefit analysis for a native oyster restoration program in the UK

5) Developing a land use model of the CAP reform 

Francisco is currently co-supervising 2 PhD students at Newcastle:

Cynthia Olumba (with Prof. Guy Garrod)

Ransford Karbo (with Prof. Lynn Frewer)

Francisco is currently co-supervising 2 PhD students at Reading:

Caroline Harkness (with Dr. Jake Bishop -University of Reading, Dr, Mikhail Semenov and Dr. Ian Shield - Rothamsted Research) - Optimising agriculture for a changing climate: which farming practices confer reliability of food production and farm income?

Samal Kaliyeva (with Dr. Yiorgos Gadanakis - University of Reading) - Evaluating policies aiming at improving milk production in Kazakshtan

Francisco has supervised 3 PhD students to completion:

Omotuyole Ambali (with Prof. Nikos Georgantzis) - Risk and Time Preferences and Spatial Dependence in Improved Rice Technology Adoption Decisions: Evidence from Nigeria - University of Reading, UK

Rui Catarino (with Prof. Julian Park and Dr. Graziano Ceddia) - Modelling the effect of Bt maize introduction on pest dynamics, insecticide use and economic returns to farmers - University of Reading, UK

Inibehe Upkong (with Prof. Kelvin Balcombe) - Valuing the Environmental and Livelihood Impacts of the Oil and Gas Industry: A Choice Experiment on the Niger Delta Region of Nigeria - University of Reading, UK