Edith Lazaro, a student in the MS program in Agricultural Economics at the Sokoine University of Agriculture in Morogoro, Tanzania, recently joined AEDE for a year of study as part of the Department’s participation in the Innovative Agricultural Research Initiative (iAGRI). iAGRI is a USAID Feed the Future project in Tanzania, which AEDE Professor Dave Kraybill oversees as the iAGRI Project Manager.
iAGRI, which begun in 2011, 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. The project also facilitates and funds collaborative research on food security and nutrition between faculty from the project’s consortium universities and Tanzanian researchers. The project’s consortium partners consist of The Ohio State University, Michigan State University, Virginia Tech, Tuskegee University, University of Florida, and Iowa State University.
This year, seven Tanzanian students are studying at Ohio State as part of the iAGRI project. Lazaro, who grew up in Morogoro, Tanzania, joins AEDE as one of these seven. Lazaro, who is working with AEDE’s Professor Stan Thompson while studying at Ohio State, will finish her coursework in agricultural economics in the US. When she returns to Tanzania in mid-2013 she will begin the research, and final phase, of her MS studies. Though her research thesis is currently undeclared, Lazaro is interested in focusing on the rice value chain in Tanzania, and in particular, the marketing potential of this chain.
When discussing her experience in the program to-date, Lazaro notes that she has greatly enjoyed her studies through the iAGRI program and having the opportunity to study at a US university and to have both a US advisor and a Tanzanian advisor to guide her research adds great value to her overall educational experience as a Master student. Lazaro notes that she’s currently enjoying the increased access to resources offered to her at Ohio State and she has found this highly helpful in offering her exposure to new concepts in agricultural economics.
Lazaro, who earned a BA in Rural Development from the Sokoine University of Agriculture, is interested in combining her background working with rural populations with her current interest in the commercialization of agriculture in Tanzania.
As she notes, “The Tanzanian agricultural sector is undergoing a major transformation to a market led, competitive and semi-industrial economy, one of the initiatives to achieve this has been training farmers to run farms as business entities, as well as a focus on the generation of knowledge related to the production of greater outputs.”
Photo Credit: iAGRI - USAID Feed the Future
Before beginning her MS program, Lazaro spent some time working for the Agricultural Council of Tanzania (ACT), a civil-society organization that serves as the voice of farmers to various constituents. She notes that the most interesting part of her work there was working with the Tanzania Agricultural Partnership (TAP), a public-private partnership platform in the country that focuses on using a value chain approach to improve agricultural production and marketing in Tanzania. Lazaro notes that by embracing a value chain added approach, she believes that great changes are on the horizon for the agricultural sector of Tanzania.
“Through my rural development studies and with my work with ACT and TAP I have had a chance to see the agriculture sector from the perspective of a farmer, I have participated in the training that farmers receive and, most importantly, I have been part of a team that lobbied for policies that positively impacted this sector and farmers at-large. Based on this experience and direct feedback from farmers, I am led to believe that the value chain approach could be the key to moving the industry forward in Tanzania.”
This semester Lazaro will continue her classes in agricultural economics at AEDE and work with Professor Thompson. In the spring, she will begin regular video conferencing with Professor Kraybill and the faculty back at home in Tanzania at the Sokoine University of Agriculture. During this time, working with faculty both here and in Tanzania, she will begin to formulate her MS program research thesis.
To learn more about the iAGRI program, please visit the Innovative Agricultural Research Initiative website.
November 6, 2012