Hailing from the West African country of Sierra Leone, Festus Amadu joins us as a Borlaug LEAP Fellow in Fall 2015. His area of study is the Link Between Agricultural Extension and Environmental Sustainability. He is interested in how the messages presented to rural farmers coincide with the environmental and natural resource conservation goals in Uganda. He will specifically be looking at the rate of adoption for these practices and what their long-term effectiveness potential might be. He is looking to find out what is working and, hopefully, to improve on those messages that may need to be adjusted. He will then use that information and extend it to his future work in Sierra Leone, tackling both the issue of food security and sustainability in West Africa at the same time.
Since receiving his Bachelor's degree in Agricultural Economics, Mr. Amadu has worked with the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Food Security in Sierra Leone and at Njala University and, in addition, completed his Master's degree, also in Agricultural Economics. He is currently studying at the University of Illinois, where he is currently pursuing his PhD in Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences and where he received an additional Mater's degree. His vision for Sierra Leone is improved food security through increased food production and self-reliance, while still working to maintain environmental sustainability. He has witnessed firsthand the struggles his home country has had in trying to feed its citizens due to limited resources and antiquated agricultural practices. More recently, the Ebola outbreak has dealt another blow to the already disadvantaged country, and Mr. Amadu is hoping that his work will allow him to help start to bring them closer toward self-sufficiency. He feels that his previous experiences in leadership will help him to guide others to leadership roles in their own respective communities, moving them towards common objectives.
Mr. Amadu will be working with Dr. Paul McNamara, who will serve as his US mentor at University of Illinois. Dr. McNamara is an Associate Professor at the University’s Department of Agricultural and Consumer Economics and has worked all over the world, including Sierra Leone, to improve extension services and the information being provided to rural farmers. He will be helping Mr. Amadu to conduct a literature review of data pertinent to his research. Mr. Amadu will also be working with Dr. Kristin Davis, currently a Research Fellow at IFPRI in South Africa. She is an expert in international extension systems and will mentor Mr. Amadu’s work in Uganda through her Development Strategy and Governance Division at the IFPRI office in Kampala where he will be doing his internship. Mr. Amadu is expected to graduate in 2018.