Germany invests in a new generation of climate-smart agricultural scientists
The German government, through BMZ and GIZ, has funded a number of young CIAT scientists with tremendous potential to change the face of tropical agriculture. I spoke with a few of them to learn about their time at CIAT and the importance of German support in their studies and career development:
Daniel Farkas, though just 27 years old, has already had a number of career changes. The former financial trader has found a new calling in agroforestry at CIAT. After completing his Master’s degree at University of Goettingen, Farkas wants to pair field work with time in the office. Support from GIZ and a visiting researcher position on the Borderlands Coffee Project allowed him to find this balance. Farkas is analyzing the effects of climate change on coffee derivatives and incorporating carbon credits into the cost-benefit analysis of coffee investment in southern Colombia’s Nariño Department. His past financial experience combined with his education in tropical forestry has proved incredibly useful for CIAT research.
“Coffee is a pathway out of poverty for farmers in conflict-affected communities along the Colombia-Ecuador border. My research has shown that climatic events heavily influence international coffee prices. Farmers must be given incentives to switch to coffee production systems that can contribute to the global effort of reducing CO2 output while also providing income for their families.” –Daniel Farkas
Ulrike Rippke, a Master’s student in geography at the University of Bonn, is assessing the effects of climate change on the suitability of staple crops in sub-Saharan Africa. Funded by BEAF: Advisory Service on Agricultural Research for Development, she hopes to reveal at what point the countries of this region will be unable to grow their customary crops due to climate change. Sub-Saharan Africa is extremely vulnerable to climate change and has very little adaptive capacity. Her research will help farmers find adaptation measures to prevent widespread food insecurity in the face of climate change. By simulating crop suitability changes using the EcoCrop model, Rippke will determine which crops are the most appropriate substitutes for the future.
“The funding from GIZ has been essential for doing research abroad at a world-renowned agricultural institute. This has not only helped me financially but also given me contacts with research institutes all over the world. Writing my thesis at CIAT has provided me with unique access to data and resources that would be otherwise unavailable.” –Ulrike Rippke
Hannes Karwat grew up in the German countryside, surrounded by evidence of how essential ecosystems and agriculture are for rural livelihoods. After completing a Master’s degree, with support from BEAF and IRRI, he entered a PhD program at the University of Hohenheim to gain further agricultural research capacity. Karwat and his team are building a body of scientific evidence about the potential of tropical forages to boost rural incomes, create significant environmental benefits, and provide consumers with affordable livestock products. They are studying a powerful biochemical mechanism that suppresses soil nitrification – the microbiological process by which nitrogen from fertilize is converted into nitrous oxide, the most powerful greenhouse gas. This multifaceted project may be agriculture’s best bet for mitigating climate change.
“Germany has taken a leadership role in raising public awareness about the importance of halting soil and land degradation around the world. My colleagues will be in Berlin next week at Global Soil Week to catalyze valuable knowledge exchange.” –Hannes Karwat
These students, CIAT, and our partners are extremely grateful for Germany’s investments in eco-efficient agriculture. Together we are cultivating a new generation of experts on climate-smart agriculture who are prepared to achieve development impact.
German support has further contributed to capacity strengthening and research at CIAT through the Centre for International Migration and Development (CIM) Program.
You can learn more about Germany’s ongoing partnership with CIAT in the new Stewardship Report outlining our shared commitment to sustainable agriculture and the impacts of our collaborative work.