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Our People

Meet SIMLESA’s team of leading scientists in the fields of socioeconomics, agronomy and gender among others.

Dr. Paswel Marenya

Economist and Project Leader

Dr. Paswel Marenya currently is a Senior Scientist and Economist at the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT). He is currently the global coordinator of the SIMLESA project based at the CIMMYT Nairobi offices. His research work involves previously working on the analysis of pathways and impacts of technology adoption among smallholder maize farmers within the framework of sustainable intensification. His work has been in maize based smallholder systems of Eastern and Southern Africa. He has analyzed and published work on farmer policy, farmers’ preferences for supporting technology adoption among maize farmers in Malawi, soil quality mediated returns to fertilizer and macro impacts of disease tolerant varieties. He is currently working on understanding the most effective investment priorities for strengthening climate smart agriculture in eastern and southern Africa. Dr. Marenya holds an MSc in Applied Economics and PhD in Natural Resources Policy and Management both from Cornell University.

Operating Countries: Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Tanzania

Dr. Rahma Adam

Gender and Development Specialist
Tanzania and United States of America

Gender and International Development specialist who has expertise in gender analysis, rural agricultural development, seed systems, sustainable intensification and African political economy. Previously worked as a researcher for the Mo Ibrahim Index of African Governance, Partners AIDS Research Center and consulted for the World Bank Group, USA. 

In SIMLESA, her work involves developing and implementing an adequate balance between strategic and integrative gender research, as well as gender mainstreaming and backstopping NARS partners from Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Rwanda and Tanzania.

Operating Countries: Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Rwanda and Tanzania

Dr. Walter Mupangwa

Farming Systems Agronomist
Farming Systems Agronomist with PhD in Soil Science and Agrometeorology from University of the Free State, South Africa. I am involved in testing and integrating different climate smart practices for crop and livestock production into smallholder farming systems. My work also involves modelling the impact of weather elements and climate smart agricultural practices on crop production in smallholder farming systems. I also work on testing and promotion of appropriate small mechanization for crop establishment, harvesting and post-harvest processing in the smallholder systems. In SIMLESA I technically backstop national partners in the implementation of agronomic trials in Ethiopia. I co-design agronomic trials, collect data from trials, analyze and produce synthesis products including scientific publications and extension materials.

Operating Countries: Ethiopia

Dr. Peter Setimela

Senior Seed System Specialist
Responsible for the development of sustainable maize seed systems in five of the nine CIMMYT operational countries in southern Africa. The job involves design and management of projects that address the maize seed value chains, in collaboration the public and private sector institutions to sustainable increase availability and access of improved maize seed. Provide leadership for objective 3 which aims to increase the range of farmer preferred maize and legume varieties through accelerated breeding, regional testing and variety release. The identified varieties are incorporated into sustainable intensification practices to create an enabling environment for sustainable intensification.

Operating Countries: Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique and Tanzania

Dr. Isaiah Nyagumbo

Systems Agronomist

An agronomist passionate in soil and water conservation technologies and participatory technology development with farmers. DPhil (2002)on seasonal water balance in conservation tillage systems and lecturer at the University of Zimbabwe for 8 years before joining CIMMYT in 2010. Since 2010, main role in SIMLESA has been on developing sustainable and resilient CA based production systems in Southern Africa and regional coordinator of agronomy activities through designing research experiments, backstopping collaborating partners and generating associated scientific publications.

Operating Countries: Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique and Tanzania

Dr. Leonard Rusinamhodzi

Cropping Systems Agronomist


Crop and Systems Modeler with a PhD in Production Ecology and Resource Conservation from Wageningen University, The Netherlands. My work involves advanced analyses to study the effects of sustainable intensification on system productivity, soil quality, water and nutrient use efficiency.

In SIMLESA, my work involves backstopping the national partners in the implementation of agronomic trials in Kenya and Tanzania. Specifically involved in designing the field experiments, data collection, collation and analyses, and synthesis for scientific and other forms of publication.

Operating Countries: Kenya, Tanzania

Dr. Munyaradzi Junia Mutenje

Agricultural Economist


Munyaradzi Mutenje is an Agriculture Economist, based at CIMMYT in Harare, Zimbabwe. She received her PhD from the University of Kwa-zulu Natal, South Africa in 2011, joining CIMMYT thereafter. Her professional and research interests focus on food security, poverty and livelihood analyses, impact assessments of agricultural technologies and sustainable development.

In SIMLESA, my work involves backstopping the national partners in the implementation of socio-economic activities in Malawi and Mozambique. Specifically involves maize-legume value chain analysis, adoption monitoring and impact assessment , and synthesis of data collected into scientific and other forms of publication.

Operating Countries: Malawi, Mozambique

Dr. Moti Jaleta

Agricultural Economist


Moti is an agricultural economist in the socioeconomics program at CIMMYT. His research interest includes assessing the adoption and impacts of sustainable intensification technologies/practices, role of markets and value chains in enhancing farmers’ technology uptake and scaling-out technologies and practices through inputs and outputs market linkages.

In SIMLESA, Moti is backstopping the national agricultural research system in designing data collection tools, planning and implementing data collection, data analyses on adoption and impacts of sustainable intensification practices on crop yield, household income food security, etc.

Operating Countries: Ethiopia

Dr. Dagne Wegary Gissa

Seed System Specialist

Obtained BSc and MSc degree in Plant Sciences and Plant breeding, respectively, from Haramaya University, Ethiopia and PhD degree from the University of Free State, South Africa in Plant Breeding. From 1998 to 2011, served as maize breeder in the Ethiopian Agricultural Research Institute (EIAR).

In SIMLESA, responsible for participatory variety selection (PVS), variety release and promotion, as well as production and supply of high quality early generation (EGS) and certified seeds in collaboration with NARS and seed companies. Backstopping national partners in the implementation of PVS, and seed production and supply

Operating Countries: Kenya, Tanzania

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