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BIFAD Announces 2019 Scientific Excellence Awards Recognizing Contributions to Global Food Security

October 15, 2019

Washington, DC – Recognizing their contributions to the advancement of global food security, the Board for International Food and Agricultural Development (BIFAD) today named two winners of its BIFAD Awards for Scientific Excellence in a Feed the Future Innovation Lab. The awards annually recognize senior and student researchers supported by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) for exceptional research that helps drive inclusive and sustainable agriculture-led economic growth, strengthened resilience among people and systems, and a well-nourished population.

"We applaud this year’s award winners for undertaking research that is improving our world through agriculture-led sustainable development,” said BIFAD Chairman and President of Mississippi State University, Mark Keenum. “The award winners’ work has helped make important strides in tackling pressing food challenges in the developing world.”

Below is information about the award winners.

Senior Research Team Award

The 2019 Award for Senior Researcher or Research Team is being given to the team of Drs. Yihun Dile, Abeyou Worqlul, and Jean-Claude Bizimana for their work on the Integrated Decision Support System in the USAID-funded Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Small-Scale Irrigation (ILSSI) at the Norman Borlaug Institute for International Agriculture at Texas A&M University, which aims to benefit farmers in Ethiopia, Ghana, and Tanzania by improving effective use of scarce water supplies through small-scale irrigation. The ILSSI conducts research in farmer fields, implements household surveys, and developss an integrated analytic methodology that assesses the production, environmental, economic, and nutritional impact of the introduction of small-scale irrigation systems.

Through the Integrated Decision Support System, the ILSSI has helped demonstrate sustainable water and land uses for small-scale irrigation and built strong ties with country partners to support capacity in the operation of small-scale irrigation projects.

Farmer-led and -implemented irrigation has proven to be an effective way to lift farm productivity and household income. ILSSI’s impact includes: increased adoption of small-scale irrigation (SSI) methods among farmers and farm organizations; the use of analytic methods to monitor government programs introducing SSI; increased income and enhanced nutritional status of households using SSI; and continued use of ILSSI’s guidance documents, tools, and materials across the African continent.

Dr. Yihun Dile received his Ph.D. in Natural Resource Management from Stockholm University. He provides training on the use and application of the IDSS to technical experts, policy-level decision-makers, and graduate students. Dr. Abeyou Worqlul received his Ph.D. in Biological and Environmental Engineering from Cornell University. He contributes to the development and application of the IDSS framework and is leading the first-of-its-kind irrigation suitability study in Ethiopia and Ghana. Dr. Jean-Claude Bizimana received his Ph.D. in Agricultural Economics from Texas A&M University. He conducts farm-level analysis to evaluate economic and nutritional impacts of small-scale irrigation technologies on family farms.

Student Researcher Award

Jean Baptiste Ndahetuye is the winner of the Student Researcher Award. Mr. Ndahetuye is a lecturer at the University of Rwanda and is completing a doctoral degree from the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences. Mr. Ndahetuye is being recognized for his work studying “milk production practices, udder health and their impact on milk quality, safety, and processability in Rwanda,which was supported through USAID funding from the Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Livestock Systems at the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences. Since 2006, the Rwandan government has provided one dairy animal to impoverished families in a nationwide effort to combat malnutrition through the consumption of milk and other dairy products. Despite this important program, milk production in Rwanda is often hampered by the widespread prevalence of mastitis, a disease that not only severely limits milk production but also presents a food safety risk to consumers. Studying 400 farms across the country, Mr. Ndahetuye found that 62 percent of the cows he sampled suffered from the disease. His findings have informed the development of training materials for farmers, milk middlemen, paraveterinarians and opinion leaders in the communities. The information is also informing the national mastitis control program as well as allowing milk collection centers to provide feedback to their members on the quality of milk received and marketed.

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