Kiwi boost for budding agriculture scientists

  • Hon Damien O’Connor
  • Hon James Shaw
Agriculture Climate Change

Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor and Climate Change Minister James Shaw are pleased to announce the first successful candidates of a New Zealand-funded international doctorate scholarship programme for budding agriculture scientists.

The PhD scholarship is a joint initiative of the Global Research Alliance on Agricultural Greenhouse Gases (GRA) – on which New Zealand has a leading role – and the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research’s (CGIAR) programme on climate change, agriculture and food security (CCAFS).  

The scholarships will help up-and-coming agriculture scientists in developing countries working on agricultural greenhouse gas mitigation research.

“New Zealand’s farmers are world-renowned for their efficient food production but all agribusinesses face the challenge of being economically and environmentally sustainable,” says Damien O’Connor.

“It’s important we support the next generation of science leaders if we are to develop techniques to reduce agricultural emissions without compromising world food security.

“We export excellent primary sector products and can do the same with our expertise,” says Damien O’Connor.

Some 65 applicants from 23 countries applied for the scholarship following its launch at the United Nations climate conference in November last year.

 “We’re delighted at the level of interest in this programme and in the quality of applications we received. It clearly demonstrates the growing interest in this field of research,” says James Shaw.  

“New Zealand takes this challenge very seriously and this is just another example of our efforts to support other countries to develop more climate friendly farming systems,” says James Shaw.

The nine successful first-round candidates come from a range of countries including Argentina, Ethiopia, Mexico, Nigeria and Tunisia.

Scholarship recipients will work in a range of research fields including nutrient management, pasture management, soil and rumen microbiology, tropical agriculture, and greenhouse gas measurement.

New Zealand provides $400,000 in funding to support the scholarship programme, which will allow more than 30 early career scientists to undertake 3-4 month research exchanges at CGIAR centres and other affiliated research institutions of GRA members and partners. Several countries are providing in-kind sponsorship.

“We really appreciate the partnership with CGIAR-CCAFS to deliver this New Zealand sponsored programme. We are sure that this initiative will add to the already valuable collaboration,” say Mr Shaw and Mr O’Connor.  

Notes to editor:

The scholarship recipients, home university and country where they are based follow:

  • Abubakar Halilu, Ahmadu Bello University, Nigeria
  • Sebastián Vangeli, National Institute of Agricultural Technology, Argentina
  • Ridha Ibidhi, Mediterranean Institute for Agricultural Economics of Zaragoza, Tunisia
  • Yohannes Gelan Regassa, Bahir Dar University, Ethiopia
  • Isabel Cristina Molina Botero, Universidad Autonoma de Yucatan, Mexico
  • Banira Lombardi, National University of the Center of the Province of Buenos Aires, Argentina
  • María De Bernardi, National University of the Center of Buenos Aires, Argentina
  • Florencia Garcia, National University of Córdoba, Argentina
  • Ofonime Eyo, Pan African University institute of Life and Earth Sciences (University of Ibadan), Nigeria

 They will be hosted by research organisations in six countries:

  • International Centre for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT), Colombia
  • Rothamsted Research and Bangor University, United Kingdom
  • Wageningen University and Research, The Netherlands
  • International Centre for Maize and Wheat Improvement (CIMMYT), India and Bangladesh
  • National Institute of Agricultural Research (INIA), Chile.

The CGIAR is an international organisation that oversees research across 15 centres

in developing countries. See more at and