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KEF Scholar Works to Create a More Sustainable Future in Ethiopian Agriculture

“Eighty-five percent of Ethiopia's population lives in rural areas, and their livelihood depends on agriculture, which is crop production and animal rearing,” writes Hana O. in her student statement to the Kapadia Education Foundation’s scholarship program. “However, it is unproductive due to both internal and external factors … I have excellent research skills and over four years of agricultural economics research experience, which helped me to identify those problems.”

These challenges include climate change and socioeconomic inequities, which have limited technology adoption—challenges that Hana has indeed identified through her research in pursuing her Master's of Science degree in Agricultural Economics; and challenges she is currently researching as part of her Master’s thesis.

Unfortunately, the reality of thesis work is that costs outside of what the university covers can accrue. On top of needing sponsorship from family members and colleagues to cover her living costs, Hana also found herself needing financial support to cover her thesis supervision fees and research fieldwork expenses. It was beginning to become too much. That’s when she reached out to Kapadia Education Foundation.

An accomplished student, Hana easily met our academic excellence requirements— she also clearly met our giving-back requirements. After all, integral to her work is identifying how to leverage already scarce agricultural resources to optimize utility and identify what tools and technology are needed to make sustainability happen in the face of climate change. There was no question that Hana should be a KEF scholar.

A woman speaking with a man while taking notes. They are sitting on a concrete slab against the exterior of a building.
Hana conducting research for her thesis.

In fact, Hana received straight As during the first semester of her Master’s program—on top of being a new mother. Additionally, the research she conducted was recently given priority by a regional government in informing the building of a buffer zone to conserve a large basin in Ethiopia, a huge professional milestone. Each of these accomplishments has propelled Hana through the arduous work of research, analysis, and writing up her thesis, which is on smallholder farmers' improved maize seed demand gap.

Once Hana defends her thesis in early 2024, she has big plans. Her goal is to develop an agricultural technology village to practically solve the socioeconomic challenges previously outlined. The village will provide a space for farmers to learn best practices that leverage new, modern technology, in addition to providing thought leadership and sharing what they need in terms of policy change. Having already found success in supplying research to determine local policy change and government action, Hana plans to continue these efforts on behalf of community farmers.

A woman sits with three men while taking notes. They are all either sitting on rocks or on the ground.
Hana conducting research for her thesis.

And if that’s not enough, Hana also plans to “support rural elementary school children by providing school materials, which [helps] them effectively continue their study. This is because most students in rural areas discontinue their education due to a lack of schooling materials (e.g., books and stationeries).”

Standing with her through it all is Hana’s family, whom she credits as her greatest support system. Her husband, who also pursued a Ph.D. in economics, continues to provide much-needed childcare support for their baby daughter so that Hana can attend classes.

We look forward to continuing to support Hana as she meets her personal and professional goals and initiates real change in her community. If you would like to support more students with big dreams—like Hana—you can do so by clicking here.


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