Robert M. La Follette School of Public Affairs
Monday, September 21, 2015

Tjernström receives grants to study issues related to food security

Emilia Tjernström Emilia Tjernström

La Follette School economist Emilia Tjernström has received two grants to investigate issues related to food security and agricultural inputs in Kenya.

Funded by the Development Impact Lab of the University of California – Berkeley, the first project will assess the extent and spatial distribution of counterfeit maize hybrids in western Kenya by analyzing genetic markers of seed samples collected from sources along the seed supply chain in western Kenya. "Despite the importance to farmers of accessing quality inputs, there is a dearth of evidence on the extent of input counterfeiting in Kenya," says Tjernström. "A better understanding of the scope of the counterfeit problem is critical for policy-makers trying to identify appropriate monitoring, testing, and regulatory schemes."

The second project is titled "Bringing FarmVille to the Tropics" and is funded by Michigan State University’s Global Center for Food Systems and Innovation. This project focuses on combining crop models and the information gained from individual soil samples into an Android application that farmers can use to gain more experience with unfamiliar technologies, or novel combinations of familiar inputs, such as fertilizer combinations that are based on the nutrient needs of the particular farmer’s soils and that differ from blanket government recommendations.

Tjernström will work with University of California – Davis professor Travis Lybbert on both projects. "We believe that these research efforts will contribute to our understanding of input markets and technology adoption patterns in sub-Saharan Africa," says Tjernström.