Knowledge for a sustainable world

BA, MSc, PhD
Dr Kate Wellard
Principal Research Fellow - Natural Resource Management and Innovations

Livelihoods and Institutions Department

Natural Resources Institute, Faculty of Engineering & Science

+44 (0)1634 88 3015

Dr Kate Wellard is Principal Research Fellow at the Natural Resources Institute in the Livelihoods and Institutions Department. She joined NRI in 2012, having previously worked for the Institute in 1996-7. Kate has held positions at various UK and African universities and development organisations, including: Lecturer at the University of Malawi (1992-6; 2006-9); Social Development Advisor at ITAD Ltd (2004-6); Research Fellow at the Overseas Development Institute (ODI) (1989-92); and ODI Fellow in Tanzania (1986-9).

She has an MSc in Agricultural Economics from the University of Reading, and a PhD in Development Studies from the University of East Anglia for a thesis on the interactions of policies, farmer practices and environmental factors in southern Malawi.

Her research centres on the social, institutional and policy aspects of agricultural innovation and smallholder farmers in Sub-Saharan Africa. She has led research and development programmes with governments, national and regional agricultural research organisations, universities and non-governmental organisations. Funders include: the World Bank, Department for International Development, Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation, Flanders International Cooperation Agency, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, McKnight Foundation, Self Help Africa and Action Aid.

Kate has worked in more than ten countries in Sub-Saharan Africa and in India. She has long-term overseas experience in Tanzania as an ODI Fellow with the Ministry of Agriculture, Zanzibar, and Malawi, carrying out PhD research and long-term research on local institutions and integrated soil fertility management and teaching with Bunda College, Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources (formerly University of Malawi).

Kate teaches a Masters-level course on Agricultural Innovation and Development with NRI’s Masters degree courses.

Kate Wellard’s main research interests and areas of expertise include:

  • Social, economic and institutional analysis of agricultural innovation systems
  • Analysis and support of agricultural policy processes
  • Design and implementation of monitoring, evaluation and learning in agricultural and rural development programmes
  • Development of participatory methodologies, training and capacity building for rural and urban livelihoods analysis
  • Participatory, multi-disciplinary approaches to smallholder agroecological intensification
  • Agriculture-climate change interactions at farmer and community levels
  • Agriculture-nutrition nexus, from household gender relations to global policy

Kate has led several recent research programmes:

Benchmarking legume policies in Malawi, Tanzania and Mozambique. Funded by McKnight Foundation (2011-12). The research analysed national and regional policies and policy processes impacting on grain legume development. It identified issues, actors and narratives around key policy areas - including seed systems, soil fertility and nutrition – as well as policy spaces for engagement. Research findings have been edited as policy briefings and used in on-going debates, particularly on soil fertility and nutrition policies, with parliamentarians and civil society in southern Africa.

Scaling-up Integrated Soil Fertility Management (ISFM): An Assessment of Economic, Extension and Policy Strategies to Improve Human Nutrition and Soil Fertility. Funded by McKnight Foundation (2009-11).The research studied local innovation systems in Malawi and revealed important farmer and community responses to, and adaptation of, grain legume inter-cropping technologies under uncertainty. Findings have informed academic debate (published as a book chapter in Castro et al. (2012) eds. Climate Change and Threatened Communities) and wider ISFM scaling-up initiatives and policies as an alternative to the dominant prevailing farm input-subsidy narrative.

Assessment of community extension roles in increasing food security in Ghana, Uganda and Malawi. Funded by Self-Help Africa (2010-11). The research examined the operation and impact of community-based extension and presented new insights into a widely promoted, but hitherto under-studied, concept. Research findings have informed research (in an Award-winning article in the Journal of Agricultural Education and Extension) and design of development programmes by government and NGOs.

  • Wellard, K., Kambewa, D. and Snapp, S. (2012) 'Farmers on the Frontline: Adaptation to Climate Change in Malawi' in Brokensha, D., Castro, P. and Taylor D. (eds) Climate Change and Threatened Communities. Rugby: Practical Action, Ch. 4
  • Wellard, K., Rafanomezana, J., Nyirenda, M., Okotel, M. and Subbey, V. (2012) 'A Review of Community Extension approaches to innovation for improved livelihoods in Ghana, Uganda and Malawi' Journal of Agricultural Education and Extension 19:1, 21-35
  • Sumberg, J., Anyidoho, N., Leavy, J., te Lintelo, D and K. Wellard (2012) 'Introduction: The Young People and Agriculture 'Problem' in Africa' IDS Bulletin 43: 6, 1-8
  • Kanyama Phiri, G. and Wellard, K. (2008) 'An Introduction to Agricultural Systems' Chapter 1 in Snapp, S. and Pound, B. (eds) Agricultural Systems: Agroecology and Rural Innovation for Development. Amsterdam: Elseiver Science Academic Press.
  • Snapp, S., Kanyama Phiri, G., Kamanga, B., Gilbert, R. and Wellard, K. (2002) 'Farmer and researcher partnerships in Malawi: Developing soil fertility technologies for the near-term and far-term' Experimental Agriculture 38: 411-431
  • Grimble, R. and Wellard, K. (1997) 'Stakeholder Methodologies in Natural Resource Management: A Review of Principles, Contexts, Experiences and Opportunities'. Journal of Agricultural Systems 55(2):173-193 Special Issue on Socioeconomic Methodologies in Renewable Natural Resources Research.
  • Wellard, K. and Copestake, J. (eds.) (1993) Non-governmental Organisations and the State in Africa: Rethinking Roles in Sustainable Agricultural Development. London: Routledge.
  • Farrington, J. and Bebbington, A. with Wellard, K. and Lewis, D. (1993) Reluctant Partners: Non-Governmental Organisations, the State and Sustainable Agricultural Development. London: Routledge
  • de Boef, W., Amanor, K. and Wellard, K. with Bebbington, A. (eds.) (1993) Cultivating Knowledge: Small Farmers, Researchers and Local Crop Development. London: IT Pubs.

Award for Best Article 2013, Journal of Agricultural Education and Extension for: ‘A Review of community-based extension approaches to innovation for improved livelihoods’.

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