Emmanuel Amoakwah joins the Borlaug LEAP fellowship in Fall 2016 as a PhD student at the University of Cape Coast in Ghana. His research focuses on the impact of biochar on carbon and nitrogen dynamics, soil quality, crop yield and greenhouse gas emissions. Emmanuel graduated with a BSc in Agriculture in 2004 and was awarded a scholarship for further studies at Ghent University in Belgium. He received his MSc in Physical Land Resources in 2008, with distinction, and is currently working as a research scientist at the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research – Soil Research Institute in Kumasi, Ghana in addition to his PhD studies. The objectives of Emmanuel’s PhD research are to assess the impact of biochar on the fertility of weathered tropical soils and to evaluate the effect of biochar on greenhouse gas emissions and crop yield. He hopes his work will contribute to poverty alleviation through agriculture because often the poorer segments of the Ghanaian population live in rural areas where the majority depend solely on agriculture for their livelihoods. Undoubtedly, improving agriculture technologies and increasing food security can be used as a tool in alleviating poverty and hunger in countries like Ghana.
Emmanuel has held many leadership roles throughout his academic and research careers. He led a project team to identify successful agricultural water management technologies practiced in Northern Ghana and Burkina Faso, which were slated to be up-scaled to other parts of those countries. He also represented a group of over thirty Borlaug Fellows in Des Moines, Iowa during the World Food Prize Laureates awards ceremony in 2013. He was nominated by other Borlaug fellows to give a presentation on climate change, food security and agricultural sustainability in Africa.
Emmanuel’s U.S. mentor, Dr. Rafiq Islam, is the program director of the Soil, Water and Bioenergy Resources at the Ohio State University. Dr. Islam’s major research focus is on sustainable agricultural and climate change mitigation, soil health, and fertility and soil amendments. Dr. Generose Nziguheba will serve as his CGIAR mentor at the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) in Kenya. Dr. Nziguheba is a soil scientist who focuses on soil fertility. Most of her research has been on understanding the biophysical and socio-economic factors underlying low agricultural production, food insecurity and poverty for smallholders farming communities, and assessing interventions to address them. Her research interests are perfectly in line with Emmanuel’s PhD research and his mentors will be assisting him with both laboratory and statistical analyses. They will also help him in writing his thesis and will provide supervision during his fieldwork. Emmanuel is on course to successfully complete his PhD in 2018.