African Center for Economic Transformation, Accra, Ghana
Université de KoudougouYou won the 2014 Uma Lele Mentor Fellowship for your research proposal: The Impact of Foreign Aid-financed versus Domestic Expenditures-financed Agricultural Training on Agricultural Productivity in Five African Countries, how is your research progressing?
It’s a great honor to have won the 2014 Uma Lele Fellowship which allows me to work on issues I am passionate about such as skills development and agriculture. The research is progressing slowly as I was transitioning to a new position career wise when I received the award letter but I am now settled and working on catching up on this research. I am currently working on the literature review and data gathering and cleaning.
Your mentor is Ralph Christy; how did you two connect on this research topic?
I was introduced to my mentor by Dr Derek Byerlee who was my mentor during the 2013 AAEA Annual Meeting. He mentored me as a part of the travel grant program for researchers from Low Income and Lower Middle Income countries. I am very thankful to Dr Byerlee for encouraging me to apply for the Uma Lele Fellowship, for advising me on which area I could draw my topic from given my research focus at the time, and for introducing me to Prof Ralph Christy who graciously agreed to mentor me. Prof. Christy has interests and experience in human capacity building in agribusiness value chains in Africa and as such is an ideal mentor for me given the topic I am working on.
What led you to pursue food and agricultural economics?
Food is a basic human need and agriculture is the basis for food production. Being a citizen of a country where food security is still an issue of utmost importance led me to focus on agricultural economics as one of my research interests. Until our countries can find sustainable ways to feed their inhabitants, development will elude us. Hungry people cannot live up to their productive potential, build strong economies and innovate. Therefore, agricultural transformation seems to be the path to economic development for most African countries and I hope, through my research, to contribute ideas to help steer the focus of decision makers to agriculture.
What advice would you offer aspiring agricultural/applied economists?
Read as much as you can to know where the current research is headed so you can find gaps to fill. Attend conferences and network to find people who are willing to mentor you. There is already a wealth of research on agriculture and applied economics but there is still so much more research needed because agriculture and applied economics cover all aspects of an economy. The possibilities are endless. Keeping up with the literature and interacting with mentors can help one find out where their passion lies and embark on the great journey that research is.