Project properties

Title Multi-objective optimization of diversification options in smallholder farms under disease pressure
Group Farming Systems Ecology
Project type thesis
Credits 36
Supervisor(s) Jeroen Groot (FSE), Guy Blomme (Ethiopia), Walter Ocimati (Uganda/DRC)
Examiner(s) Prof. dr. ir. M.K. van Ittersum
Contact info Jeroen Groot,
Begin date 2016/11/01
End date 2017/12/31
Description This proposed research will be conducted on smallholder farms in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo in the framework of the Humidtropics programme of the CGIAR, which aims at improving smallholder livelihoods in an integrated inter- and transdisciplinary manner. This region is characterized by a high population density and small fragmented farmlands, limiting key practices such as fallowing and agro-forestry that are vital for improving soil conditions. Banana, a perennial crop, has for decades been one of the main food and income crops in the region. However, banana production over the past fifteen years has been severely affected by Xanthomonas wilt of banana caused by Xanthomonas campestris pv. musacearum putting food and income security of millions of households at risk. Coping strategies have involved managing the disease to keep the pressure low; uprooting/cutting down partial/entire banana farms, diversification into other production options, and all depending on farmers’ production objectives and resource endowments. The coping options differently influence the food security and nutrition of household and the resilience of the production environment. Identifying new/alternative production systems that will sustainably improve productivity and nutrition and the agro-ecosystem’s sustainability are of paramount importance. This study will use a pareto-based optimization FarmDESIGN model (Groot et al., 2012) to explore the best-fit diversification/intensification prototypes for optimizing yields, incomes and nutrition sustainably in these smallholder farms affected by BXW. These simulations will then be fine-tuned and discussed for implementation with the key stakeholders in the region. The main objective of the study is to identify the best-bet sustainable diversification/intensification options for improving food and nutrition security, and incomes in banana-based smallholder farmers under BXW shock.

- Literature review to develop a theoretical framework and methodological approach.
- Development and or/ collection of data on farms for varying farm typologies
- Data entry, cleaning and analysis using the FarmDESIGN model
- Data interpretation and writing of MSc thesis
Used skills - Preparation of a detailed proposal and methodological protocols
- Collection of farm data using survey questionnaires and qualitative approaches
- Learning simulation modeling approaches (FarmDESIGN)
- Data interpretation and scientific paper writing
Requirements Agroecology or Analysis and Design of OFS