< Lost and Found: Qualitative Field Research
18.09.2017 11:47 Age: 2 yrs
Category: General HORTINLEA, SP 13

Young Professionals From HORTINLEA Visit WorldVeg to Study Traditional African Vegetables

The research team discussed their study concept with experts from WorldVeg, IITA and JKUAT. © Sönke Marahrens

At WorldVeg different vegetable varieties are researched. © Sönke Marahrens

The visit at the institution opened up possibilities to jointly develop innovative strategies. © Sönke Marahrens

Under leadership of Dr Emil Gevorgyan, SP 13 coordinator and a WorldVeg alumnus, a team of eight young professionals working in an international development cooperation from Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin visited WorldVeg’s regional office for Eastern and Southern Africa in Arusha from 21-29 August 2017. During their 9-day stint at WorldVeg, the team kickstarted a large research project: ‘Circular knowledge exchange for food and nutrition security - establishing sustainable mechanisms for knowledge exchange and dissemination for African indigenous vegetables in Kenya and Tanzania’.

The young professionals want to look at disseminating research results into practice. How can gaps between academia, policy and practice be closed and how can sustainable mechanisms for ‘circular knowledge exchange’ be developed? The team wants to tackle this complex problem plaguing traditional African vegetables by developing a concept for a network on circular knowledge exchange, by analysing local innovation processes and putting them in practice for use by farmers, and by developing training manuals and policy briefs to disseminate knowledge.

The young professionals are part of a one-year post-graduate programme at the Centre for Rural Development at Humboldt-Universität, and include Elena Ammel (political scientist), Rebekka Goeke (political scientist), Julia Legelli (biologist), Sönke Marahrens (environmental scientist), Florian Neubauer (development sociologist), Colleen O´Conner (political and social scientist) and Manon Lelarge (agronomist).

“As a key player in the various HORTINLEA consortia, WorldVeg has profound experiences in linking research and dissemination in East Africa. Focusing on the preservation and selection of suitable vegetable varieties as well as effective production, postharvest and marketing technologies, the institution offers a great opportunity for the research team to exchange ideas and jointly develop innovative strategies for addressing food and nutrition challenges through action-oriented research and knowledge dissemination”, according to team leader Dr Emil Gevorgyan.

During their stay, the young professionals conducted interviews with experts from WorldVeg, visited demonstration plots and conducted a focus group discussion with a farmer group. The visit culminated in a half-day-long workshop to present and discuss the study concept with experts from WorldVeg, the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) and Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and technology (JKUAT). Dr Losenge Turoop, Associate Dean from JKUAT, drove over from Kenya not to miss this event. During the workshop, participants shared ideas on implementing a multi-stakeholder network, reflected on potential innovation criteria and best practices on dissemination processes, and collected contents for training manuals. The workshop ended with a presentation by James Chacha, a HORTINLEA MSc student, on ‘The potential role of underexploited indigenous vegetables in improving food and nutrition security in Tanzania‘.

After a wonderful week at WorldVeg and with renewed energy, the team dispersed to Morogoro, Tanzania and Nairobi, Kenya to conduct field work. The final study will be published in December 2017.

© Florian Neubauer, Rebekka Goeke, Emil Gevorgyan