SLU news

Visiting researcher want to increase productivity for smallholder farmers while improving the environment

Published: 20 October 2016

Dr Leonard Rusinamhodzi is working in the Sustainable Intensification Program at CIMMYT, Kenya. He is now visiting Sweden for two weeks, and we took the opportunity to ask him some questions!

What is your area of research and what are you investigating at the moment?

I am a systems agronomist working on sustainable intensification of smallholder agriculture. Currently working in East Africa (Tanzania and Kenya) on how conservation agriculture can be adapted to the circumstances of farmers (biophysical and socio-economic), and what is the likely long-term impact at plot, farm and beyond given the issues of climate variability and change. Also to understand at farm level how farm management decisions affect the severity of Striga infestation in western Kenya.

We seek through a literature review to identify crop production systems that increase productivity, reduce drudgery and improve the environment and livelihoods of smallholder farmers in the tropics. Through this we will address theme 3 of AgriFoSe2030 i.e. Theme 3 - Increased productivity and diversity in smallholder cropping systems for increased food security. Through interactions with multi-disciplinary teams, will learn new methods and tools as well as clear insights on the development pathways needed for smallholder agriculture in the tropics.

Dr Leonard Rusinamhodzi's research on sustainable intensification aims to help small scale farmers feed themselves now and in the future, and move out of poverty.

What do you hope to achieve in the coming years with your research?

The ultimate goal is to increase the decision space for smallholder farmers so that they can engage in crop production systems that allow them to increase productivity while maintaining or improving the environment. In addition, I want to increase my collaboration with international scientists working in the same domain.

At my workplace in CIMMYT, I belong to the Sustainable Intensification Program. The program is global and has a staff complement of 40 scientists working on different aspects of agronomy, mechanization, gender and climate change modeling. At SLU, I collaborate with Associate Professor Sigrun Dahlin.

Why are you passionate about your research, why is it so important?

I grew up deriving a livelihood from my parents’ subsistence farming activities in Zimbabwe and experiencing first hand, the challenges they faced. I have a very deep understanding of the complex barriers to improved crop productivity in sub-Saharan Africa, and I know what it is to live off a small scale farm. Thus, I feel research on sustainable intensification is needed to help small scale farmers feed themselves now and in the future, and move out of poverty.

How did you come to be a researcher? Was it a childhood dream? Did you want to solve something?

I was always inquisitive when growing up, and by chance was exposed to research early on in my career. I have always been excited about generating new knowledge, and that this knowledge can be used to improve livelihoods is a bonus.

What do you like to do when you are not working?

Sightseeing, cycling and watching sports.


Sigrun Dahlin, Researcher at the Department of Soil and Environment, +46 18 67 2483, +46 70 67 122 99

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