Marie-Luise Matthys

Program Manager, Development Projects

“I am convinced that Biovision takes people who work in agriculture seriously and considers themas  experts on their ecosystem. The ideas from and experience of local institutions are decisive in project development. The combination of scientific and local knowledge is unbeatable!"

Counting peas for a whole day? Marie-Luise would not have wanted to miss out on this experience during her studies in organic agriculture in Kassel-Witzenhausen, Germany. Her true passion, however, is not studying legumes but the people who practise smallholder agriculture. In various South Asian and East African countries, Marie-Luise researched local perspectives to answer questions like “What does ‘good nutrition’ mean for farmers in Kenya?” “How does climate change affect the work of livestock farmers in Ethiopia?” “How is the commercialization of agriculture changing rural life in Nepal and Rwanda?” To explore these and similar questions, Marie-Luise travelled to remote areas without tourist infrastructure, lived in a tent for several months and shared in everyday life with local people. By doing so, she not only found answers to her research questions, but also learned local songs, idioms and recipes – with and without peas.

Research inspires Marie-Luise to this day. She does not only want to generate knowledge, however; she also wants to work towards sustainably and concretely improving farmers’ living conditions. At Biovision, Marie-Luise oversees projects that deal with local knowledge and knowledge transfer about organic farming, including the Push-Pull cultivation method. She also draws on her knowledge from her studies in the philosophy of knowledge and the NADEL master of advanced studies in development and cooperation at ETH Zurich.

Marie-Luise loves living a diverse life: culinarily by using heirloom vegetable and grain varieties, musically by interpreting traditional fiddle tunes, and linguistically by learning dialects from both East Africa and Switzerland.


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