Undergraduate research opportunity takes CANR student to Malawi

Claire Jordan wants to change the world. And this summer, she begins her journey to "leave the world a better place," starting in Malawi.

Claire Jordan

Claire Jordan wants to change the world. And this summer, she begins her journey to “leave the world a better place” starting in Malawi.

Jordan, a Michigan State University (MSU) student, is majoring in environmental studies and sustainability, and minoring in women and gender studies with a specialization in international agriculture.

Jordan was awarded an undergraduate research scholarship to conduct research this summer in Malawi under the supervision of Robert Richardson, an associate professor in the Department of Community Sustainability at MSU. She is a student in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources.

“When I learned that I had received the research scholarship, I was thrilled and relieved,” Jordan said. “I remember thinking, ‘Wow, this is actually happening!’”

Jordan’s research focuses on gender and agriculture, particularly the willingness of women farmers to cultivate multipurpose legume crops including a thick-stemmed pigeon pea. The branches can be used as firewood for cooking, and the leaves can be used for mulch or livestock fodder, Richardson said.

“The pigeon pea crop can be a very resourceful crop for farmers, so I am hoping this project and my data collection will help Africa RISING in its efforts to help farmers plant this crop,” Jordan said.

Jordan and Richardson will work with a focus group of six to 10 female Malawi farmers who are participants in Richardson’s intervention program, Africa RISING (Research in Sustainable Intensification for the Next Generation).

“After learning about the gender roles of Malawian farmers, my passion for women’s studies helped me decide to focus on women farmers specifically,” Jordan said. “From my project I’m hoping to learn more about women farmers’ perceptions and motivations around the pigeon pea crop and what influences their decisions to plant it or not plant it.

“This project is personal to me because of how passionate I am about this topic. More than anything else I want to spend my life devoted to improving environmental conditions and leaving the world a better place,” she said. “Having this opportunity to work on a project that is trying to improve the livelihoods of farmers in a sustainable way means everything to me.”

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