Spring 2016 Borlaug LEAP Fellow Demis Mengist Wudeneh joins us from Ethiopia where he is currently pursuing a doctorate in Socioeconomic Development Planning and Environment at Addis Ababa University. His interests lie in how best to integrate large-scale farming and land development with the needs of smallholder farmers and other local businesses and his end goal is to provide data to policy-makers so they can insure food and income security in Ethiopia alongside encouraging economic development in the country. Demis is currently working in the Gambella Regional State, considered an investment hotspot, with many agricultural, service and industrial development projects in the works. He sees this research as an opportunity to help secure the agricultural future for his country for years to come and is eager to create an example that can be emulated around East Africa and beyond.
Demis has both a Bachelor’s and a Master’s degree in Geography and Environmental Studies from Addis Ababa and has long been interested in environmental causes in Ethiopia. He has worked in various positions and on various research projects throughout the years, including those in agriculture extension, urban agriculture and small-scale irrigation. He has also spent time working in higher education as a graduate program curriculum developer and an organizer of economic development conferences and trainings. He has seen his leadership style and views change over the years as his responsibilities have evolved and he looks forward to working with his mentors to hone his skills in both research and leadership. Demis then hopes to use those skills to increase capacity development in higher education in Ethiopia to increase the country’s ability to combat issues like food insecurity and agricultural sustainability.
Demis will be working with his US mentors, Dr. Shida Henneberry and Dr. Art Stoecker at Oklahoma State University, and his CGIAR mentor, Dr. Gebrehaweria Gebregziabher at the International Water Management Institute (IWMI) in Ethiopia, during the fellowship. Dr. Henneberry and Dr. Stoecker both have extensive experience in the field of Agricultural Economics and will be working very closely with Demis throughout his time in the US. Dr. Gebregziabher is a respected researcher and economist at IWMI who will help Demis create real-world scenarios to compliment his research. Demis expects to complete his research and receive his doctorate in 2017.