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Q&A with ARN Researcher Dr. Rebecca Ibe : Enhancing Smallholder Productivity through Horticulture Crops

Dr. Rebecca Bolatito Ibe holds a Doctor of Philosophy and Master of Science degrees in Agricultural Economics from the University of Ibadan, Ibadan, Nigeria (2018 and 2003, respectively) and a Bachelor of Agriculture (B. Agric., 2000) from the University of Ilorin, Ilorin, Kwara State, Nigeria. She is currently the Chief Research Officer at the National Horticultural Research Institute (NIHORT), Ibadan, Nigeria. Dr. Ibe is a member of the founding cohort of the ALL-IN Research Network

What are some of your research interests?

My immediate passion has been to contribute immensely to sustainable economic development. To achieve this I have been engaging in multidisciplinary, demand-driven research on the production, utilization, marketing and consumption of horticultural crops (especially, fruits and vegetables).

My research interests’ center on food and nutrition security, agricultural production, poverty alleviation, consumer behavior, gender mainstreaming, capacity building among others. I am passionate about research that will enhance smallholder farmers’ productivity (women and youth inclusive), income and livelihood, as well as that which contributes to poverty reduction and wealth creation.

What are the most interesting research findings from your work so far?

Through a value chain study conducted recently in Nigeria, my team and I have been able to discover key stakeholders’ (farmers, marketers, processors and consumers) preferred attributes/traits for plantain and plantain products. We are using this to develop a product profile and also breed a new variety for increased productivity and income for stakeholders.

 Secondly, we were able to develop a product known as ‘plantain composite flour’ and stakeholders were trained on its preparation and processing procedure. Through this there has been creation of employment and income for women and youths who adopted the technology.

What are some challenges you face in your industry?

Limited funding is a major challenge, particularly at the government-owned research institute where I work. A lot of great research ideas are birthed here, but never executed or completed due to paucity of funds.

Additionally, there is inadequate exposure to cutting edge research tools which could enhance my capability as a researcher. The lack of implementation of policy recommendations emanating from research findings also serve as deterrent to researchers.

What is the most promising or exciting part of your research work?

The opportunity to work hand in hand with smallholder farmers and other relevant stakeholders along the horticultural crop value chain. Through this work, we enhance productivity, food and nutrition security, reduce poverty, and create jobs and wealth.

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