Idil Ires is a doctoral researcher in Geography at King’s College London and in Political Science at Humboldt University Berlin. She is also a member of the Research Domain IV: Transdisciplinary Concepts and Methods at Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research in Germany.
Idil holds a scholarship from the Foundation of German Business. She obtained her master’s in Integrated Natural Resources Management from Humboldt University and trained on Human Rights and the Environment at the Geneva Academy of International Humanitarian Law in Switzerland. Idil applies her background in political economy and ecology to the study of rural transformations in the context of agricultural and hydropower investments in African river basins. Her work usually covers three themes: resource conflicts, income, and human mobility.
In the past, she studied water governance and disputes at the first large-scale dam and irrigation project funded by the African Development Bank in the Blue Nile Basin. This study was integrated into the “Livestock and Irrigation Value Chains for Ethiopian Smallholders” project of the International Water Management Institute in Addis Ababa.
Before that, she researched the performance of agricultural extension services in Phú Thọ Province for the Vietnamese Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.
Thesis title: Brokering Development? Limits of Private-Sector Coordination with Paddy Smallholders as a Pro-Poor Strategy at Tanzania’s Agricultural Growth Corridors
This study explores how the interplay between multi-level political, economic, and environmental factors influences agricultural investment practices in Tanzania, thereby transforming production and rural livelihoods.
Attracting agricultural investments is a central part of Tanzania’s economic vision to alleviate poverty until 2025. For this, in some areas, the government provides farmland to companies to produce food and create rural jobs; in others, it fuels the existing commercial agriculture by linking farmers with input suppliers, banks, and buyer-trader enterprises through markets and contract farming.
Focusing on the latter investments, this dissertation explores whether markets and contract farming improve the livelihoods of low-income groups. It uses a critical political economy lens to examine income, land, and labor aspects of livelihood transitions. While one-year fieldwork is conducted in Mbarali between 2016 and 2018, a historical perspective spanning 20 years until 2018 identifies unresolved challenges to livelihood improvements.
One finding is that intensive droughts and competition for irrigable land marginalize the lowest-income groups to arid landscapes, with little prospect to succeed in commercial agriculture. Mainly the already better-off farmers sustain and increase their incomes, while the poor encounter debt, pushed to new subsistence frontiers, such as wage labor and migration.