“I want to continue to be part of Biovision. It is wonderful to work with people I appreciate and admire, who sometimes challenge me, and with whom I can share my own perspectives.” Shruti Patel, newly elected board member, added that in her new role she wants to pursue the same goals she had already pursued as programme officer: namely to more effectively bridge research and practice. “I want to strengthen Biovision’s influence within communities and organizations working for sustainable food systems,” Shruti Patel adds.
Formative childhood years in Kenya
Shruti Patel was born and raised in Kenya. Her interest in agriculture was awakened as a child. “I wanted to understand why people suffer from hunger in a country that is rich in arable,” she recalls. After studying agricultural economics at Nottingham University in the UK, she returned to Kenya with many new questions. After a short stay, however, she decided to continue her education in development studies at the University of Cambridge. After completing her master’s degree, she worked in various positions in the field of development cooperation. In Lesotho, for example, Shruti Patel gained experience cooperating with the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. She then coordinated a sustainability project for flood-prone areas in Bangladesh, and she supported the governments of Romania and Tanzania in designing education programmes for low-income people. She then took a position as a research associate at the Centre for Development Policy and Research at SOAS at the University of London, where she worked with policy makers in Zambia and Azerbaijan towards alleviating poverty in resource-rich countries.
Her time at Biovision
After moving to Switzerland, Shruti Patel the joined agricultural machinery manufacturer AGCO as a strategy consultant for Africa. Aware of the importance of the private sector in creating development solutions, she founded a social enterprise in Kenya that focuses on job creation and skills development in the informal sector. In 2016, she joined Biovision as programme officer for the Farmer Communications Programme and to disseminate Push-Pull – Biovision’s effective, environmentally friendly method of controlling insect pests and plant parasites, which also increases soil fertility and water retention. Push-pull thus enables better harvests and saves farming families from requiring expensive synthetic pesticides and fertilizers.
Shruti’s curiosity and the changes in development cooperation drew her back to research. Since March 2021, she has been a senior lecturer at NADEL, the Centre for Development and Cooperation at ETH Zurich. There, she focuses on the topics of food and nutrition security as well as on building partnerships for development and behavioural change. Biovision’s foundation board and staff are very pleased to be able to continue to count on Shruti Patel’s expertise and commitment.