Student Feature: Kehinde Ojo
Kehinde Ojo is a second-year master’s student in the Department of Food and Resource Economics, College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, University of Florida. She obtained her bachelor’s degree in Agricultural and Resource Economics from the Federal University of Technology, Akure, Nigeria and Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University (FAMU) Tallahassee, Florida in the year 2016. She came to the United States in 2015 as an exchange student to finish her bachelor’s degree in Agribusiness at FAMU after which she commenced her master’s degree program in Fall 2016 at University of Florida.
During her undergraduate degree, she did an internship with a cocoa firm in Nigeria. Through this experience, she became interested in Nigeria’s cocoa industry, especially since Nigeria is the fourth largest producer of cocoa in the world and third largest exporter of cocoa, exporting about 96% of its cocoa production. She views the cocoa industry as a viable avenue of growth for Nigeria’s economy—cocoa is a non-renewable resource and in the 1960s, cocoa production aided the agricultural sector in becoming the main source of the country’s economic growth before the discovery of petroleum in the early 1970s. Following Nigeria’s discovery of petroleum, the agricultural sector exists in a dilapidated state; more so, most of the agriculture producers live in the rural areas of the country and therefore, lack basic infrastructural amenities. Based on the dismal situation of the cocoa industry, Ojo became deeply interested in researching ways to improve the level of agricultural production in Nigeria. Consequently, in her senior year in college, she conducted a project on “Estimating the Economic Implication of Expanding Cocoa production in Nigeria.”
In 2016, when she started her master’s program, she was selected as an African student in Food and Resource Economics Department to work with a Dr. John VanSickle on a United States Agency for International Development (USAID) awarded grant to Rwanda and Nepal on Cost of Production and Competitiveness of Production of Milk in each of the countries. She traveled to Rwanda and Nepal for data collection in summer 2017, where she and her advisor had several meetings with agricultural stakeholders in each country to build a consensus cost budget and identify the risks that are involved in milk production. She is currently writing her Master thesis on “Cost of Production and Competitiveness of Production of Milk in Nepal” addressing one of the major factors limiting Nepal milk production—the no-slaughtering policy. Currently, dairy farmers are not allowed to slaughter cattle due to religious and political reasons. In addition, they are not permitted to export cattle; anyone caught exporting cattle is subject to 20 years imprisonment. Ojo hopes research results will help Nepal Government in providing policy changes to benefit Nepalese dairy farmers. She hopes to commence her Ph.D. program in Fall 2018 where she can be fully engaged in Agricultural production and development related research.