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ILRI Research Fellowship - call for applications: Agro-economist (MSc student)

Background: The International Livestock Research Institute works at the crossroads of livestock and poverty, bringing high-quality livestock science, communications and capacity building to bear on poverty reduction and sustainable development. ILRI is one of 15 Centres of the CGIAR Consortium, a global agricultural research partnership for a food-secure future. The IFAD funded MilkIT project is enhancing dairy-based livelihoods in India and Tanzania through feed innovation and value chain development approaches (See here). Milk already is an important commodity in India while projected supply-demand gaps for milk and milk products indicate a need for intensification. Along with population growth and urbanization, milk demand is increasing in Tanzania and growth rates of current milk production cannot keep pace with this increasing demand. Consequently, there is a need for intensification. Feed is a key issue to improve milk yields at farm level but enhancing feed availability requires a broad approach. Small-scale dairy production is an almost universal component of the farming enterprise among smallholders farming in mixed crop-livestock systems in India. The availability of sufficient high quality feed is a key constraint to improving milk yields and hence dairy income for smallholders through intensification.The Project:This project is called "Enhancing dairy-based livelihoods in India and Tanzania through feed innovation and value chain development approaches (MilkIT)". The overall goal of the MilkIT project is to contribute to improved dairy-derived livelihoods in India and Tanzania via intensification of smallholder production focusing on enhancement of feeds and feeding using innovation and value chain approaches.The objectives of the project are three-fold:
  1. Institutional strengthening: to strengthen use of value chain and innovation approaches among dairy stakeholders to improve feeding strategies for dairy cows.
  2. Productivity enhancement: to develop options for improved feeding strategies leading to yield enhancement with potential income benefits.
  3. Knowledge sharing: to strengthen knowledge sharing mechanisms on feed development strategies at local, regional and international levels.
The MilkIT project uses an overarching innovation platform approach that supports learning and exchange to deliver the development outcomes outlined above. An innovation platform is a network of different stakeholders who come together to exchange knowledge and develop joint action to bring about change in livelihoods and natural resource management. ILRI is currently developing a conceptualframework to monitor and evaluate the impact of innovation platforms hypothesizing that the structure of the platform has an impact on the conduct of its participants, which in turn has an impact on the performance of the platform.The position:The Agro-economist (MSc student) will use methods from marketing analysis to identify the relationships between factors that contribute to the performance of an innovation platform in reaching selected development outcomes identified above, in order to refine and test the conceptual framework for the monitoring and evaluation of the impact of innovation platforms.Key responsibilities:
  • To review relevant and recent literature on marketing relationships and innovation platforms;
  • After having agreed with the supervisors in choosing out of the conceptual framework i) one element describing the conduct of platform participants and ii) one element describing the performance of the platform, to review relevant and recent literature from the marketing relationships literature to identify previously used questionnaire statements that characterize these two elements;
  • For each one of these two elements, to propose statements, based on the literature review, which describe the various notions encompassed by these elements;
  • To contribute in devising survey methods adapted to the local field context in order to collect data from platform stakeholders so as to test the relationships posited in a simplified model of the conceptual framework and the appropriateness of the statements proposed to characterize the two elements selected from the conceptual framework;
  • To travel to the field to test the survey instruments, implement data collection together with local project partners, and gather qualitative information through focus groups and semi-structured interviews of project stakeholders in the field to illustrate the conceptual framework on innovation platforms;
  • For the two elements selected, to analyse the data collected using factor analysis so as to identify a limited number of statement(s) that best encompass the two elements studied;
  • To analyse the data collected using multiple regression analyses so as to test a simplified model of the conceptual framework linking all the elements of structure, conduct and performance of the innovation platforms under study;
  • To write up research results in a format suitable for publication as an MSc Thesis or university field report, and possibly a case study article or a scientific journal article.
  • Be a current student at MSc (or equivalent degree level) in agricultural sciences, agricultural economics, agrifood marketing or development studies;
  • Use this assignment to complete an academic requirement of the MSc degree (final thesis, field study report, sabbatical activity report, etc.);
  • Having completed academic requirements of an MSc programme in one of the above fields before starting work at ILRI is a plus;
  • Demonstrated knowledge of using statistical tools and software for research, SPSS preferred; alternatively, genuine interest to learn about using statistical packages a plus;
  • A team player with excellent interpersonal and communication skills;
  • Ability to interact effectively in a multi-cultural and multi-disciplinary environment;
  • Excellent written and verbal communication skills in English.
  • Some prior international development experience is a plus;
Terms of appointment and stipend:The successful candidate will be supervised jointly by an ILRI Agro-economist and the university supervisor. While at ILRI Headquarters in Nairobi, he or she will also have access to many other ILRI researchers so as to develop his or her research. While in Tanga, Lushoto and Korogwe, he or she will be based with and report to the Tanzania Livestock Research Institute (TALIRI). ILRI will provide a stipend of US$1,000/month to the successful candidate, economy return air ticket to Nairobi, plus travel allowance when on duty travel out of the duty locations, as well as insurance. ILRI will pay for the costs of research-related travel.How to apply:Applicants should provide a cover letter, curriculum vitae, 1 page description of your research proposal and a recommendation letter from your university supervisor. All applications should be submitted online here.Location:Nairobi (Kenya) and Tanga, Lushoto and Korogwe (Tanzania).Closing date:31 July 2013 or until a suitable candidate is selected.
International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI)