Taiwo Ayinde, a native of Nigeria, will be joining the Borlaug LEAP Fellowship as a Fall 2015 Fellow. She will be working on research for her PhD in Agricultural Economics and Rural Sociology, which she will receive from Ahmadu Bello University, located in Zaria, Nigeria. She is studying the Economics of Sustainable Tree-Crop-Livestock Intensification Among Smallholder Farmers in Northwestern Nigeria. As the population grows, finding effective yet sustainable ways of not only maintaining, but increasing productivity, will be very important in the future, and Ms. Ayinde hopes to address some of these issues. Her goal is to document the characteristics of the current production systems in Northwestern Nigeria, to develop a model that will allow farmers to optimize their outputs, income, and productivity. Once a model is identified, she hopes to try and implement it systematically in order to study its effectiveness. She would like her research to eventually lead to an improvement in food security not only in Nigeria, but across West Africa and beyond.
Ms. Ayinde has used her interactions with farmers throughout her studies to spur her on to finding solutions to socio-economic and gender based problems. She has seen how the combination of poor agricultural practices, climate change, and environmental degradation has led to malnutrition, income loss, and a general lowered quality of life in Northern Nigeria. As a scientist, she hopes to find ways of mitigating the destruction these issues have caused. As a woman, she hopes to be able not only relate those women most affected, but to inspire other female scientists to join in making a difference in their own communities. She has already mentored numerous students in her positions as a lecturer and extension worker and she plans to continue to do so after she completes the Borlaug LEAP Fellowship and her doctoral studies.
Taiwo Ayinde will be working with two mentors, Dr. Charles Nicholson and Dr. Augustine Ayantunde, for the duration of the Fellowship. Dr. Nicholson is an Adjunct Professor for the School of Applied Economics at Cornell University. He has worked on the analysis of food systems in developing countries and has partnered with ILRI, where Ms. Ayinde’s CGIAR mentor currently works. Dr. Nicholson will help her create an effective modeling tool for her research along with introducing her to a wider pool of researchers in her area of study. Dr. Ayantunde is currently at ILRI as the Senior Animal Scientist, where he works on agro-pastoral systems in West Africa. He will be working with Ms. Ayinde to fill in the gaps in her knowledge and help her gain practical field knowledge as she works on her surveys. She is on track to receive her PhD at the end of 2016.