AWARD Fellow Jane Ambuko, a Kenyan agricultural scientist, was recently appointed by the Food and Agriculture Program of the United Nations (FAO) to the prestigious team of High Level Panel of Experts (HLPE) on Food Losses and Wastes.
The only woman on the five-member team of distinguished international experts, Ambuko will work on the panel’s report on Food Losses and Waste in the Context of Sustainable Food Systems, to be published in May 2014. The report will feed into the policy debates of the United Nations Committee on World Food Security (CFS) next year. The HLPE is the science-policy interface of the CFS, which is the foremost international and intergovernmental multi-stakeholder platform on food security and nutrition. An HLPE report is a high visibility and high impact enterprise.
"The FAO appointment came as a big surprise for me. I contributed to an online solicitation of information on postharvest food losses,” said Ambuko, a lecturer in the University of Nairobi’s Department of Plant Science and Crop Protection and head of the Horticulture Unit. “I gave my views about simple production, and harvest and postharvest handling practices that could help reduce postharvest losses among small holder horticultural farmers. I am humbled but excited about this and had to share it with the force behind me—AWARD."
Ambuko’s area of specialization is postharvest science and technology. Her research focus is postharvest loss management in horticultural commodities, especially among smallholder farmers. She is currently working in several multi-institutional research projects focused on increasing productivity and profitability of horticultural and related enterprises.
After undergoing a kidney transplant in 1993, Ambuko graduated top of her BSc in Agriculture class and went on to obtain a scholarship for her MSc studies in Horticulture from the University of Nairobi, and a PhD in Agricultural Sciences (Postharvest Science major) from Tsukuba University, Japan, followed by additional training from the Postharvest Technology Center and University of California Davis, U.S.A. She has also received extensive training in Phytosanitary Standards and Regulations through various initiatives including FAO, KEPHIS, and USDA.
Ambuko is a 2013 beneficiary of the Norman Borlaug Fellowship, through which she undertook professional scientific collaboration (in Postharvest Science) with Michigan State University.
“I believe AWARD has empowered the women in its program to overcome our inhibitions and just go for it,” said Ambuko, who will participate in the panel’s first meeting in Granada, Spain this month. “I will put my best foot forward and make Kenya and AWARD proud.”