In this interview, Jawoo Koo introduces himself and his work with Africa RISING. It is one of a series of portraits of key people in the program.
Jawoo Koo is a research fellow at the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI). His work focuses on crop modelling and geospatial analysis for strategizing scaling-up of sustainable intensification technologies. He joined IFPRI in 2007 to work on the HarvestChoice project, and has been a supporter of Africa RISING from its beginning.
What is your background?
I studied crop systems modelling at graduate school in the University of Florida. I studied the modelling of soil carbon sequestration potential in smallholders’ farming systems in northern Ghana during my PhD program.
What do you do in your current position?
I simulate farmers’ management of crops (from planting to harvesting) using crop models and estimate their growth and yield under different scenarios of changes – over space and time.
I am developing a grid-based crop modelling framework to run such simulations anywhere in the world, which I think is pretty cool (I arrogantly think I have the coolest job amongst fellow crop modellers in the world)!
What are your goals in Africa RISING?
I’ll keep refining the modelling capacity to be able to appropriately model all the sustainable intensification (SI) technologies being tested in Africa RISING – so that the results can provide insights on the potential impacts (on production and environment) and help developing scaling-up strategy.
What are the biggest Africa RISING challenges and how do we deal with them?
Often one of the most challenging aspects of developing the modelling framework is understanding the human dimension – what farmers would do to overcome the uncertainties and risks, and why. I think we have the similar challenges in the real world of Africa RISING. There’s so much we can get from the surveys. Better understanding farmers’ rationale on making everyday decisions around farming and household will be one of the key elements for the successful scaling-up of SI technologies. I don’t have a good answer to this, but I can at least provide model-estimated implications from various scenarios of farmers’ choices.