- Course: PhD in Food Science and Nutrition
- PhD title: Soya transitions and implications for agri-food systems in Zambia
- Nationality: Zambia
Ndashe Kapulu studies for a PhD in the School of Food Science and Nutrition, where he investigates how, as part of a forthcoming national strategy, diversifying into soybean production could help Zambian farmers to boost their resilience. His PhD is funded through AFRICAP, a UK Research and Innovation (UKRI)-Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) project.
Part of the Nutritional Epidemiology research group, Ndashe is supervised by Professor Caroline Orfila and Dr Harriet Smith at the University of Leeds, as well as academic staff members from UK and Zambian universities.
Supporting the livelihood of Zambian farmers
AFRICAP brings researchers together to work with local organisations and government departments in Zambia, Malawi, Tanzania and South Africa. It aims to strengthen Africa’s agriculture and food systems resilience through transforming policy in countries across the continent. Ndashe’s research is helping to transform Zambia’s agricultural system by supporting the delivery of the country’s national strategy to increase soybean production.
Ndashe said: “My research provides evidence on nutrition and livelihood implications of agricultural transformation to soybean production in Zambia. The results will be necessary for informing policy in Zambia, especially a forthcoming national strategy to increase soybean production, which a part of the country’s agricultural diversification policy agenda.”
My research provides evidence on nutrition and livelihood implications of agricultural transformation to soybean production in Zambia... as part of a forthcoming national strategy to increase soybean production.
He continued: “AFRICAP involves working with stakeholders to build the capacity to both identify and implement evidence-based policy. The aim is to foster sustainable, resilient and nutrition-focused agri-food systems. The project is multidisciplinary. It combines nutrition, trade, socioeconomic, agriculture and environmental issues with policy and governance.
“Being part of this research community will bring into perspective a combination of critical thinking, socioeconomic, nutritional and ecological expertise concerning food systems to my career, in several ways. I see myself effectively contributing to the shaping of critical national and regional food system policies beyond my doctoral studies.”
Value Chain networks
Collaborating with key stakeholders and decision makers is an important part of Ndashe’s PhD. He also produces literature reviews and critical analyses of food supply data from in-country and international databases. Ndashe explained he is also collaborating with a ‘policy think tank’ in Zambia to develop the country’s diversification agenda.
“My research involves collecting primary data by talking to various actors involved in the soybean value- chain, including farmers, policymakers, researchers, and industry players,” said Ndashe. “Another component of the research is linked to a desk-based critical review of relevant literature and secondary analysis of food supply data from national and Food and Agricultural Organisation databases.”
I collect primary data by talking to various actors involved in the soybean Value Chain, including farmers, policymakers, researchers, and industry players.
He continued: “I am currently working with a national policy think tank in Zambia, called the Agriculture Consultative Forum. Their objective is to generate evidence-based policy recommendations for the government. My work will underpin the development of a soybean strategy for Zambia.”
Ndashe added: “My work is being supervised by Professor Caroline Orfila, Dr Harriet Smith, Professor Jennie Macdiarmid from the University of Aberdeen, and Dr Simon Manda from the University of Zambia.
“The researchers are multidisciplinary, covering nutrition, public health, global value-chains, rural livelihoods, climate-smart agriculture, agri-business and food security. Collectively, their expertise fits well with my research interests.”
Applying for a PhD
The University of Leeds’ multidisciplinary research culture was one of the main factors attracting Ndashe to apply for a PhD. Postgraduate studies in topics such as geography, sustainable agriculture and food security led to his current research topic.
“I decided to apply for a PhD at Leeds because of the University’s multi-disciplinarity in addressing global challenges associated with food and nutrition security,” said Ndashe. “My interests have been influenced by my undergraduate and masters courses in geography, sustainable agriculture and food security, respectively.”
I decided to apply for a PhD at Leeds because of the University’s multi-disciplinarity in addressing global challenges associated with food and nutrition security.
He added: “I have combined aspects of my academic background in my work with rural communities, which focuses on how they can become more resilient and food secure in a climate riddled world. The work of Professor Tim Benton, who is AFRICAP’s principle investigator, particularly inspires me in understanding how current and future global challenges might shape food systems across different spatial scales.”
Working for Zambia’s Ministry of Agriculture
Before his studentship with the University of Leeds, Ndashe worked for the Zambian government developing technologies in the agriculture sector. This experience has shaped his current research.
Ndashe said: “I worked for over 12 years in Zambia’s Ministry of Agriculture as a legume agronomist, where I developed and promoted legume-based production technologies for smallholder farmers.”
He added: “I am looking to have an in-depth understanding of how food systems in Zambia might be shaped from agricultural transformation to soybean production in my research. I hope that my multidisciplinary PhD will closely complement my knowledge of the soybean sector from my previous government job.”
Studying and working at the University of Leeds has supported Ndashe’s research. In the future, he hopes to develop his proactive work in Africa’s agri-food sector.
“The University of Leeds has an international character, which makes me coming from a developing country feel included and well supported,” said Ndashe. “Through the Leeds Doctoral College, I have participated in programmes designed for international students that help with not only academic but social aspects of student life as well.”
He added: “I plan to continue working in the research space when I completed my studies, with a specific focus on the implementation of nutrition-sensitive interventions in agri-food systems in southern Africa.”