Dawit Kebede Zenebe became a Borlaug LEAP fellow in the Spring of 2014. He used the fellowship to provide support for producing empirical evidence for his research on several important policy questions. He firmly believes that policies which reduce poverty in Ethiopia should also help increase productivity in the agricultural sector and expand off-farm employment. Dawit is investigating whether there will be expansion of employment or if liberalization will lead to de-industrialization.
His research studies the impact of two policy measures that seem to work in opposite directions in terms of influencing employment in agro-processing industries. Trade liberalization measures tend to contract employment in the import competing agro-processing industry; however, there are incentive schemes that promote investment and expansion of the same industry. Dawit has a vision for agriculture-led growth in Ethiopia; where conditions are created that improve the productivity of farmers through expansion of technology adoption and extension services.
Dawit believes in ending the isolation of farming communities by building infrastructures to integrate them into markets. He explains that expanding opportunities for off-farm employment is crucial to help bolster the agriculture sector and its produce inputs, creating more demand for products. His University of Wisconsin-Madison mentor and advisor, Dr. Jeremy Foltz, was well placed to guide Kebede’s research in the agricultural and economic aspects of investment and technological changes that result from trade. By working with Dr. Antoine Bouet at IFPRI, Dawit gained a broader perspective of international trade and agro-processing issues in the world, and the theory and practice of trade. He expects to receive his PhD In Agricultural and Applied Economics in 2017.