Dispatch from the Field: Tony Gallenstein on His Work with the iAGRI Program in Tanzania

May. 2, 2016

Tony Gallenstein, an AEDE doctoral student, is currently in Tanzania serving as a program manager for the Innovative Agricultural Research Initiative (iAGRI), a USAID Feed the Future project. AEDE’s Dave Kraybill serves as the iAGRI project director.

iAGRI is an ambitious five-year program to improve agricultural productivity and food security in Tanzania.

The $24 million project will provide agricultural and nutrition training to 120 Tanzanian graduate students over the project lifespan, including educational exchanges at the program’s six American partner universities: The Ohio State University, Michigan State University, Virginia Tech, Tuskegee University, University of Florida, and Iowa State University. iAGRI also facilitates and funds collaborative research on food security and nutrition between faculty from the project’s consortium universities and Tanzanian researchers.


Author: Tony Gallenstein

The Ohio State University has joined Sokoine University of Agriculture on an iAGRI funded research and capacity-building initiative: Promoting Financial Inclusion and Technical Transformation among Smallholders in Tanzania: A Capacity-Building Exercise.

The project has several objectives:

  • Conduct high-quality research on the impact of weather-based index insurance on technology adoption and farmer group sustainability in Tanzania;
  • Improve economics research capacity at Sokoine University of Agriculture; and
  • Raise awareness of the potential uses of index insurance in the agricultural finance sector in Tanzania.  

Through this initiative, it is hoped that food security in Tanzania will be improved due to the ability of the country’s leading agricultural university to conduct high-quality economics research and promote the understanding of index insurance to stakeholders in the country. The project aims to promote opportunities for index insurance to manage the risks faced by smallholder farmers throughout the country.

The research team is composed of two principal investigators from Ohio State: Dr. Mario Miranda and Dr. Abdoul Sam, as well as one principle investigator from Sokoine University: Dr. Flavianus Magayane.

In addition to the principal investigators, the team is composed of two graduate research assistants from Ohio State: myself and John Daugherty, as well as one recent Sokoine University graduate: Erick Temu.

During the first phase of the project implementation, I have assumed the role of iAGRI program manager for the research team. I have been based in Tanzania from February 2016 and will remain here into June.

In my work, I am overseeing a number of project activities, including the implementation of a framed field experiment that is investigating the impact of index insurance on risk-taking in individual and joint liability smallholder agricultural lending.

The experiment is in effect from late March to early May in the drought prone districts of Kongwa, Bahi, and Dodoma Urban in the Dodoma region. During this time, I am located with the experiment team in Dodoma.

The other project activities include a collection of capacity-building exercises, including a research discussion group with four Sokoine University graduate students. The discussion group involves reading academic papers in experimental and development economics and discussing new research ideas and research methodologies. The participants also serve as enumerators for the implementation of the framed field experiment thereby providing them with hands-on experience implementing the methodologies studied in the literature.  

Additionally, I am working with Professor Miranda and the iAGRI leadership team to develop a proposal for capacity-building activities for Sokoine University’s School of Agricultural Economics and Agribusiness.

The proposal includes further student mentorship, teaching a seminar on experimental and behavioural economics, an external review of the Agricultural Economics graduate program, training for Sokoine University faculty on teaching doctoral level quantitative research methods, and inclusion in an upcoming index insurance conference.