Spring 2016 Borlaug LEAP Fellow Cedric Habiyaremye joins us from the country of Rwanda. Growing up, Cedric was caught up in the brutal Rwandan civil war that tore apart the country and forced many to flee. Once his family relocated to a refugee camp in Tanzania, Cedric then had to watch as hunger sapped away the potential for his people to reach greater heights in their pursuit to a better life and made even the most basic tasks nearly insurmountable. He vowed that when he grew up, he would lead a major campaign to fight malnutrition and hunger in his home country and help make sure that hunger was never an issue again. Today his dreams are on their way to becoming true. Currently a PhD student in Crop Science at Washington State University (WSU), his research projects focus on the agronomic practices of small grains such as quinoa, teff, millet, amaranth, and food barley. He hopes to enhance the nutrition and utilization of novel and sustainable food and farming systems through interdisciplinary approaches: crop diversity, food science, and anthropology. His focus during his fellowship will be to assess the adaptability of quinoa and African millets in Rwanda and use to anthropological research to understand the current situation of millet and adoption of quinoa in farming communities. He would like his research to contribute to enhancing food security in Rwanda.
During his work on community development projects at Building Bridges with Rwanda Consulting Services and as an agriculture student, Cedric has received various awards and honors, including the CAHNRS Interdisciplinary Team Award 2015 (Quinoa Research and Extension Team). He also received the Future Leaders Forum (FLF) Scholarship, AIARD 2015 class of Leaders. He was featured in the article of the United Nations World Food Programme: “From a Refugee Facing Hunger – To a Student Learning to Fight It.” He feels that his previous experiences have helped him learn the value of teamwork and leading by example. He hopes that his time spent with his mentors during his fellowship will help him cultivate and expand these skills so he can pass them on to the next generation. He is also excited to return to Rwanda, thanks to the funding provided by the Borlaug LEAP fellowship, where he will conduct field trials and interviews with the help and guidance of his CGIAR mentor.
During his fellowship, Cedric will be working with Dr. Kevin Murphy, an Assistant Professor of Plant Breeding and Genetics at Washington State University. Dr. Murphy will be providing overall guidance as well as supplying the seeds and the lab facilities, needed for Cedric’s research. Dr. Murphy will also help Cedric strengthen his contacts with those that might foster growth and interest in quinoa and millet research. In addition working with his U.S. mentor, Cedric will also be working with his CGIAR mentor Dr. Eliud Birachi, CIAT Country Coordinator and Socio-economist, on Value Chains in Rwanda. Dr. Birachi will provide mentorship, supervision and guidance, based on Cedric’s needs during his fieldwork. Dr. Birachi will also help Cedric increase his knowledge and understanding the status of millet in Rwanda and social-cultural aspects of quinoa and support in areas such as adaptability and variety trials and household nutritional issues with respect to quinoa. Cedric is expected to complete his PhD in 2018.