Bill Gates funding assists PhD students in improving agricultural policy in Africa

Posted on June 17, 2015

One of the key outcomes of the multimillion dollar grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to the University of Pretoria's Department of Agricultural Economics, Extension and Rural Development in 2012 was to train more PhD students in agricultural economics to assist with better analysis and research for better policy making in Africa.

It is commonly argued that some of the main reasons for the poor performance of African agriculture are poorly crafted policies and poor infrastructure. Poor policies are often the result of poor data, poor research and therefore poor design. The PhD students funded by this grant are currently all working on topics (listed below) to improve our understanding of certain key dimensions of the agricultural sector in South Africa and other countries in Africa. A total of eight PhD students are currently funded by this grant. Two of these students are likely to submit their theses for examination by the end of this year. Three of the students are South Africans, two are Zimbabweans, two are Swazis and one student a Kenyan.

Danie Jordaan - Topic: Agribusiness value chain risk, fragility and coordination strategies: Case studies of South African lamb, pear and mohair value chains.
Melissa van der Merwe - Topic: Agent behaviour, governance mechanisms and incentives in the South African lamb/mutton supply chain
Deon Scheepers - Topic: A crop revenue insurance product for the South African agricultural industry.
Charity Nhemachena - Topic: Biological innovation in South African agriculture: A study of wheat varietal change, 1950-2012.
Colleta Gandidzanwa - Topic: The changing nature and quality of physical capital inputs in South African agriculture.
Raphael Gitau Kanyingi - Topic: Maize production, marketing and the impact on the welfare of the rural households in Kenya.
Linda Mahlalela - Topic: The economics of wetland conservation and management in Swaziland.
Thabo Sacolo - Topic: Stochastic dynamic optimization and farm investment decision in South African agriculture.

- Author Martie Meyer

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