Researcher of the Month: Dr. Wagura, Agribusiness for Economists
Dr. Simon Wagura- Strathmore Business Schools (SBS) Agribusiness Academic Director, embodies a passionate outlook on agribusiness for economics. His excellence in this field of academia is not only humbling, but a surety of gracious wins on academic awards. Married and a father of two children, Dr. Wagura strives at promoting agribusiness in Kenya, a fast growing venture for entrepreneurs.
I got admitted at the University of Nairobi to pursue a Bachelor of Education- with a double major in Mathematics and Economics. I quickly developed a thirst for Economics during this period, so I put a lot of effort into it. At the end of the four years I graduated with a first class honors, this was a major achievement for me noting that I had never been a high achiever.
One year after completing the undergraduate, I enrolled for my masters at the same university from 2005 -2007. The climax of my masters had to be when I was awarded for having the best thesis in East and Central Africa, through the African Economics Research Consortium (AERC). My thesis was titled Children schooling and effect of resource collection.
In 2008, I began my PhD at the University of Gothenburg in Sweden on a full scholarship grant. My research work was meant to be on Environmental Economics but I digressed and concentrated on Agriculture. It took me two years to complete my course work then I embarked on my dissertation, under the supervision of professors Katarina Nordblom and Jesper Stage.
I defended my thesis on April 19th 2013, a day still fresh in my memory. As tradition for all candidates defending their thesis, flags were hoisted around campus; the Kenyan flag, the Swedish flag and the flag of my opponent (the one questioning my dissertation) were therefore hoisted.
When I was applying to Strathmore, agri-business was revamping in Kenya. Since I had gone in-depth with agriculture for my PhD, Strathmore Business Schools Dean Dr. George Njenga read my papers and thought I would best fit in lecturing Agri-business.
As prerequisites for my dissertation, In addition to passing the course work, I was required to get 3 single authored papers or work with many authors, but the combination of papers should add up to 3 points (points are calculated using a magic formula), with at least one single authored paper. Upon completion I was awarded with 3.7 scores beating the required benchmark of the 3 points.
I concentrated on five topics with focal areas greatly influenced by prevailing trends. Out of the five papers, four have already been published. The topics and findings included the following;
- Are there systematic gender differences in the adoption of joining sustainable intensification practices? Evidence from Kenya. We found out that women are discriminated during land distribution processes, leaving them with less fertile portions, yet they are more instrumental in the family set-ups compared to men.
- What determines gender inequality in household food security in Kenya? Application of exogenous switching treatment regression. The paper worked at showing the link between gender of household heads and food security. Female-Headed households have food insecurity compared to male-headed households. Food security is influenced by factors such as; household wealth, land quality, input use, information and water sources etc.
- A study of post-harvest food loss abatement technologies in rural Tanzania; in this paper we tackled preservation and improved storage technologies as an adoption strategy to climate change. We studied the choice of food storage used in Tanzania for cereals and preservations. We realized that the choice of preservation and storage are joint decisions.
- Does Perception of Risk Influence Choice of Water Source and Water Treatment? Evidence from Kenyan towns. The paper tackles the effect of household characteristics and risk perceptions on their decision to treat/filter water as well as their choice of main drinking water source. We found out that perceived risks significantly correlate with the households decision to treat unimproved non-pipe water before drinking it.
- Environmental goods collection and Childrens Schooling; (this was a part of the thesis I had done for my masters) the paper presents an empirical study of schooling attendance and collection of environmental resources using cross-sectional data from Kiambu district. One of the key findings was that being involved in resource collection reduced the likelihood of a child attending school, but with the help of a mother, the child is able to attend school more often.
I experienced different challenges before I could settle on the topics, especially on sourcing for reliable data and supervisors whose expertise could align perfectly with my research areas. I explored so many topics and angles before settling for what I did.
I also found being away from home a major challenge because I was a newlywed. I used to be teased that am single married.
Benefits of the PhD
With the research output I am able to contribute to knowledge on the various topics which policy makers in these fields can use. Many of my peers have also approached me to attend conferences and contribute to different topics giving me good recognition.
The garnered exposure and experiences in other fields are priceless. Published works also elate one in the scholarly ladder.
Your next 5-10years…
I want to be an associate professor and eventually a professor.
To aspiring PhD holders – doing a PhD is tough but its manageable. It will also require a lot of sacrifice from your end in order for you to finish on time. Form a good rapport with your supervisors because they are key instruments in your research work.
Published and forthcoming peer-reviewed article(s):
- Simon Wagura Ndiritu, Menale Kassie and Bekele Shiferaw (2014) Are there systematic gender differences in the adoption of joint sustainable intensification practices? Evidence from Kenya. Food policy journal Volume 49, Part 1, December 2014, Pages 117127 DOI: 10.1016/j.foodpol.2014.06.010
- Kassie Menale, Simon Wagura Ndiritu and Jesper Stage (2014) Gender inequalities and Food security in Kenya: Application of Switching regression World Development Vol.56, April 2014, pp 153171 Doi:10.1016/j.worlddev.2013.10.025
- Joseph Onjala, Simon Wagura Ndiritu and Jesper Stage (2014) Risk Perception, Choice of Drinking Water, and Water Treatment Evidence from Kenyan Towns. Journal of Water, Sanitation and Hygiene for Development, 4, 2, pages 268-280 doi:10.2166/washdev.2014.131
- Ndiritu, Simon Wagura and Wilfred Nyangena (2011), Environmental goods collection and childrens schooling: Evidence from Kenya, Regional Environmental Change, 11(3), 531-542 http://www.springerlink.com/content/470430708568p4qj/
Recent published Working Papers:
Onjala, Joseph, Simon Wagura Ndiritu and Jesper Stage. 2013. Risk Perception, Choice of Drinking Water, and Water Treatment Evidence from Kenyan Towns. EfD Discussion Paper EfD DP 13-10.
Ndiritu, Simon Wagura & Nyangena, Wilfred, 2010. “Environmental Goods Collection and Childrens Schooling: Evidence from Kenya,” Discussion Papers dp-10-18-efd, Resources for the Future
Working papers under review
- Activity Choices and Child Schooling among Rural Households: Evidence from Rural Uganda. (joint work with Tony Muhumuza) Submitted
- post-harvest food loss abatement technologies: evidence from rural Tanzania (joint work with Remidius Ruhinduka) Submitted
- Kenyas New Competition Policy Regime (joint work with Robert Mudida and Thomas W. Ross) Submitted
Research work in progress
I am currently working on a subject titled: Do we use combination of water tariff and refundable payments or rationing to allocate River water?