Divina Gracia P. Rodriguez

Research Scientist

(+47) 980 60 276
divina.rodriguez@nibio.no

Place
Ås O43

Visiting address
Oluf Thesens vei 43, 1433 Ås

Biography

I am an agricultural and applied economist. My research relates to environmental, consumer, and production economics in both developing and developed market contexts, with a focus on food security, agricultural productivity, and climate change. I have research, innovation, and development experience in Asia, Europe, and Africa. Currently, I am the coordinator of the FoodsecURe project and am also involved in several projects that deal with economic, environmental, and social sustainability in climate change.

Apart from my research work, I have taught undergraduate courses in introductory microeconomics, statistical methods, financial decision-making, and world food economy. I earned a Ph.D. from the University of Illinois, an M.S. from Texas Tech University, and a B.S. from the University of the Philippines. 

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Abstract

The site-specific nutrient management (SSNM) strategy provides guidelines for effective nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium management to help farmers make better decisions on fertilizer input and output levels in rice (Oryza sativa) production. The SSNM fertilizer recommendations are based on the yield goal approach, which has been frequently cited in empirical studies. This study evaluates the assumptions underlying the SSNM strategy for rice in the top rice-producing countries around the world, including India, Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam. Using a generalized quadratic production function, I explore whether major nutrients are substitutes as inputs and if there are complementarities between inorganic fertilizer and soil organic matter (SOM). The results suggest the relationships among major nutrients vary across sites—some inputs are complements, some are substitutes, and some are independent. The SOM also significantly affects the nitrogen fertilizer uptake. I conclude by suggesting that the SSNM strategy can be made to be more adaptive to farmer’s fields if these relationships are accounted for in the fertilizer recommendation algorithm.

Abstract

This chapter emphasizes the need for active stakeholder engagement right through from strategy development to planning and implementation, to realize the benefits of sustainable bioeconomy development. In general, this varies between regions and countries. In the EU, it is considered important to engage stakeholders at all stages, whereas in developing countries engaging stakeholders so far has not been given much importance when launching new strategies. Stakeholders, including the private sector, research institutions, farmers organizations, the government and non-governmental organizations, all have important roles to play. The chapter focuses on the why, how and what type of stakeholders should be engaged, and the relevant benefits and challenges. It discusses experiences from the EU and other regions where stakeholder engagement (both formal and informal) and participative governance have led to or are necessary for successful and sustainable bioeconomy development.

To document

Abstract

We examine the origins, implications, and consequences of yield-based N fertilizer management. Yield-based algorithms have dominated N fertilizer management of corn (Zea mays) in the United States for almost 50 yr, and similar algorithms have been used all over the world to make fertilizer recommendations for other crops. Beginning in the mid-1990s, empirical research started to show that yield-based rules-of-thumb in general are not a useful guide to fertilizer management. Yet yield-based methods continue to be widely used, and are part of the principal algorithms of nearly all current “decision tool” software being sold to farmers for N management. We present details of the theoretical and empirical origins of yield-based management algorithms, which were introduced by George Stanford (1966, 1973) as a way to make N fertilizer management less reliant on data. We show that Stanford’s derivation of his “1.2 Rule” was based on very little data, questionable data omissions, and negligible and faulty statistical analysis. We argue that, nonetheless, researchers, outreach personnel, and private-sector crop management consultants were obliged to give some kind of N management guidance to farmers. Since data generation is costly, it is understandable that a broad, “ball park” rule-of-thumb was developed, loosely based on agronomic principles. We conclude by suggesting that technology changes now allow for exciting new possibilities in data-intensive fertilizer management research, which may lead to more efficient N management possibilities in the near future.

Abstract

The SiEUGreen project was implemented to enhance the EU-China cooperation in promoting urban agriculture (UA) for food security, resource efficiency and smart, resilient cities through the development of showcases in selected European and Chinese urban and peri-urban areas. In the last four years, SiEUGreen project assembled numerous existing and/or unexploited technologies for the first time to facilitate the development of the state-of-the-art UA model. In light of this, there is natural interest in whether SiEUGreen’s efforts resulted in meaningful impacts. Hence, the objective of this report is to determine the multi-dimensional impacts of the showcases developed and implemented by the SiEUGreen project. The analysis of the impact of the technologies or showcases implemented by the SIEUGreen mainly relies on the data obtained from other relevant tasks and deliverables within the project (e.g., showcase deployment, market analysis, and deliverables related to technology deployment). The willingness to pay studies use NIBIO’s existing data from a contingent valuation survey for willingness to pay of Oslo residents towards food produced using the target technologies. The report is presented as follows: • Section 2 gives an overview of the implementation status of the SiEUGreen technologies with the current technology readiness levels (TRLs); • Section 3 discusses the impacts in terms of land use, food security, environmental resilience and resource efficiency, and societal inclusion; • Section 4 focuses on willingness to pay studies for UA-related technologies; • Section 5 discusses the results and impact pathways; and • Section 6 provides the lessons learned and recommendations. Overall, our assessment indicates that SiEUGreen has provided a wide-ranging array of impacts in multiple dimensions: land-use, food security, environmental resilience and resource efficiency, and societal inclusion.

To document

Abstract

Growing awareness of global challenges and increasing pressures on the farming sector, including the urgent requirement to rapidly cut greenhouse gases (GHG) emissions, emphasize the need for sustainable production, which is particularly relevant for dairy production systems. Comparing dairy production systems across the three sustainability dimensions is a considerable challenge, notably due to the heterogeneity of production conditions in Europe. To overcome this, we developed an ex-post multicriteria assessment tool that adopts a holistic approach across the three sustainability dimensions. This tool is based on the DEXi framework, which associates a hierarchical decision model with an expert perspective and follows a tree-shaped structure; thus, we called it the DEXi-Dairy tool. For each dimension of sustainability, qualitative attributes were defined and organized in themes, sub-themes, and indicators. Their choice was guided by three objectives: (i) better describe the main challenges faced by European dairy production systems, (ii) point out synergies and trade-offs across sustainability dimensions, and (iii) contribute to the identification of GHG mitigation strategies at the farm level. Qualitative scales for each theme, sub-theme, and indicator were defined together with weighting factors used to aggregate each level of the tree. Based on selected indicators, a list of farm data requirements was developed to populate the sustainability tree. The model was then tested on seven case study farms distributed across Europe. DEXi-Dairy presents a qualitative method that allows for the comparison of different inputs and the evaluation of the three sustainability dimensions in an integrated manner. By assessing synergies and trade-offs across sustainability dimensions, DEXi-Dairy is able to reflect the heterogeneity of dairy production systems. Results indicate that, while trade-offs occasionally exist among respective selected sub-themes, certain farming systems tend to achieve a higher sustainability score than others and hence could serve as benchmarks for further analyses.

To document

Abstract

Agricultural extension services are integral to technology adoption where they play a key role in delivering relevant agricultural information and technologies to farmers. In China, agricultural extension services are provided through experimentation, demonstration, training, and consulting. In Norway, agricultural extension is focused on collecting, developing, and coordinating agricultural knowledge to farmers. This chapter focuses on why agricultural extension is needed, how it is developed, and what services agricultural extension provides to its clients. It discusses experiences from China and Norway where agricultural extension has led to or is necessary for boosting agricultural productivity, increasing food security and safety, and improving the well-being of farmers.

To document

Abstract

The Governing Missions and Mission-Oriented Research and Innovation in the European Union guidelines promoted by the European Commission (EC) are helpful as a starting place for creating the enabling environment for BioCities which follow the principles of natural ecosystems to promote life (Mazzucato 2018, 2019). The strength of mission-oriented policies, defined as systemic public policies that draw on frontier knowledge to attain specific goals, is the empowerment of emergent solutions achieved by: (1) being bold and inspirational with wide social relevance; (2) having a clear direction with targeted, measurable, and time-bound metrics; (3) being ambitious but realistic; (4) being cross-disciplinary and cross-sectoral; and (5) driving multiple bottom-up solutions (Ergas 1987).

Abstract

The world's burgeoning billions have been kept fed thanks to the "Green Revolution" of the 20th century, which featured new hybridized crops with enhanced yields. Often deemed a miracle of science, it was also made possible by energy-intensive industrial fertilizers. Fritz Haber and Carl Bosch were each awarded the Nobel Prize for their contributions to the widely used processes for synthesizing ammonia from nitrogen taken from ambient air and hydrogen derived from fossil fuels. These ammonia-based nitrogen fertilizers, along with mined fertilizers, today help to feed the world, something Thomas Robert Malthus never envisioned in his 18th century writings warning of overpopulation. Today we are concerned with another green revolution that seeks to end the use of fossil fuels, which when burned create emissions that are dangerously warming the atmosphere and creating the need for a second agricultural revolution to ensure the world's billions can still be fed in the face of drastic climatic extremes. So as we look to decarbonize the world's economy and phase out the use of fossil fuels, what is the fertilizer industry doing to green its highly fossil fuel-dependent industrial and mining processes? We talk with Alzbeta Klein, CEO of the International Fertilizer Association, freshly returned from COP28 in Dubai, where for the first time the world's nations agreed to the need to phase out fossil fuels to temper the runaway climate change we are experiencing. "Food is energy, and we need to understand that connection," Klein says. "We need to understand the transition for the energy markets, and we need to understand the transition for the food market because the two go hand-in-hand." We also hear from Hiro Iwanaga of Talus Renewables, a nitrogen fertilizer startup at the forefront of using photovoltaics to crack hydrogen from water, rather than fossil fuels. Also freshly returned from Dubai, Iwanaga talks about his company's demonstration project now under way in Kenya, and the company's next projects here in the United States. "The green hydrogen tax credit that was passed as part of the Inflation Reduction Act makes our product cost-competitive," he explains. Also, Brandon Kail of Rocky Mountain BioAg speaks to his company's approach employing soil microbes as the foundation of a non-fossil fuel-based approach to plant nutrition, and Divina Gracia P. Rodriguez of the Norwegian Institute of Bioeconomy Research tells us about an EU-funded project in Ethiopia she is spearheading that seeks to address barriers to the adoption of human urine-based fertilizers.

To document

Abstract

An increasing number of cities are becoming a striking illustration of the maldistribution of resources. These resources, which are both physical and societal, lead to inequalities which are at the root of issues such as societal tensions, poverty, alienation, and marginalization of particular groups from the public discourse (Cassiers and Kesteloot 2012). The interrelationships between the urban social environment and urban environmental conditions, alongside political and economic structures, define the distribution and access to the benefits and services that are linked to nature in the cities (O’Brien et al. 2017a, b).

To document

Abstract

The greenhouse gases (GHG) emissions in the European Union (EU) are mainly caused by human activity from five sectors—power, industry, transport, buildings, and agriculture. To tackle all these challenges, the EU actions and policies have been encouraging initiatives focusing on a holistic approach but these initiatives are not enough coordinated and connected to reach the much needed impact. To strengthen the important role of regions in climate actions, and stimulate wide stakeholders’ engagement including citizens, a conceptual framework for enabling rapid and far-reaching climate actions through multi-sectoral regional adaptation pathways is hereby developed. The target audience for this framework is composed by regional policy makers, developers and fellow scientists. The scale of the framework emphasizes the regional function as an important meeting point and delivery arena for European and national climate strategies and objectives both at urban and rural level. The framework is based on transformative and no-regret measures, prioritizing the Key Community Systems (KCS) that most urgently need to be protected from climate impacts and risks.

Abstract

The MilKey project aims at assessing the environmental, economic, and social sustainability of European dairy production systems, and at identifying ‘win-win’ farming practices for sustainable and greenhouse gas (GHG) optimised milk production. In this context, a holistic model was developed to evaluate the sustainability of specialised dairy farms and was entitled DEXi-Dairy. This model has the potential of aiding the identification of GHG and nitrogen (N) emission mitigation options and assessing their effects across multiple sustainability aspects. DEXi-Dairy covers the three sustainability pillars, i.e., environmental, economic, and social. Based on the ‘DEX’ multi-criteria methodology, the model is detailed under the form of a tree structure represented by four main hierarchical layers, i.e., branches, principles, criteria, and indicators. DEXi-Dairy was built following a participatory and interdisciplinary approach by MilKey project partners. It was then tested on three case study farms from Ireland, France, and Germany, respectively, using data from 2020. The DEXi-Dairy indicator handbook describes the sustainability tree and selected indicators to assess dairy production systems over a production year. Overall, this document can be used as a basis to replicate and expand the sustainability assessment framework developed as part of the MilKey project.

Abstract

The objective of this report is to investigate the role of animal breeding in the partner European countries — in terms of (1) increase of the competitiveness of breeders’ association and (2) conservation of animal genetic resources including breeding programmes — to generate relevant lessons for African partner countries in addressing livestock and poultry productivity and quality challenges in Africa.

Abstract

Human urine contains essential nutrients (e.g., nitrogen and phosphorus) required for plant growth. Hence, urine can serve as a “free” and locally available nutrient source. Successful, low-cost urine-diverting toilets (UDTs) that separately collect urine have been developed in Scandinavia and in Europe and are being manufactured at large-scale in Africa. There exists many barriers to urine recycling at scale. The important initial steps for increased use of urine as a fertilizer (UBF) are to understand the technical, socio-cultural, economic, institutional and ecological aspects that affect large-scale adoption of UDTs, urine treatment technologies, and UBFs; provide evidence-based data that shows urine is safe in terms of heavy metals, pathogens, and organic micropollutants; and identify optimal combinations strategies to sustain adoption in the long term. FoodSecURe will be implemented and will utilize the already existing UDTs in communal public areas in Bahir-Dar, Ethiopia. Due to lack of technology and limited awareness of users, government and institutions, these UDTs were used inappropriately, and no UBF has been produced from the UDTs. The project will be conducted through 6 work packages (WPs): WP0 focuses on the project management. WPs 1-4 focus on identifying the barriers in the adoption of urine recycling based on technology (WP1), health (WP2), socio-culture and environment (WP3), and economic and institutions (WP4). The dissemination, exploitation and communication activities are in WP5. The various tasks are implemented through a multi-disciplinary and multi-actor approach by scientists specializing in social sciences, business management, agronomy, parasitology, environmental engineering, environmental science, and soil science. A Stakeholder Advisory Committee will be created to strengthen science-policy-stakeholder linkages and ensure that the technical and socio-economic solutions identified in the project match the stakeholders’ needs.

Abstract

Urban agriculture is increasingly recognized as an important sustainable pathway for climate change adaptation and mitigation, for building more resilient cities, and for citizens’ health. Urban agriculture systems appear in many forms – both commercial and non-commercial. The value of the services derived from urban agriculture, e.g., enhanced food security, air quality, water regulation, and high level of biodiversity, is often difficult to quantify to inform policymakers and the general public in their decision making. We perform a contingent valuation survey of four different types of urban agriculture Where the citizens of Oslo are asked about their attitudes and willingness to pay non-commercial (urban community gardens and urban gardens for work training, education and kindergartens) and for commercial (i.e. aquaponics and vertical production) forms of urban agriculture. Results show that the citizens of Oslo are willing to increase their tax payments to contribute to further development of urban farming in Oslo.

Abstract

Urban agriculture is increasingly recognized as an important sustainable pathway for climate change adaptation and mitigation, for building more resilient cities, and for citizens’ health. Urban agriculture systems appear in many forms – both commercial and non-commercial. The value of the services derived from urban agriculture, e.g. enhanced food security, air quality, water regulation, and high level of biodiversity, is often difficult to quantify to inform policymakers and the general public in their decision making. We perform a contingent valuation survey regarding four different types of urban agriculture in Oslo. The citizens of Oslo are asked about their attitudes and willingness to pay for non-commercial and commercial urban agriculture. The non-commercial agriculture consists of urban community gardens for the citizens and urban gardens for work training, education and kindergartens. On the other hand, the commercial urban agriculture consists of aquaponics and vertical production. Results show that the citizens of Oslo are willing to increase their tax payments to contribute to further development of urban farming in Oslo. Keywords: Willingness to pay; community garden; aquaponics; vertical farming; Oslo

Abstract

The site-specific nutrient management (SSNM) strategy provides guidelines for effective nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium management to help farmers make better decisions on fertilizer input and output levels in rice (Oryza sativa) production. The SSNM fertilizer recommendations are based on the yield goal approach, which has been frequently cited in empirical studies. This study evaluates the assumptions underlying the SSNM strategy for rice in the top rice-producing countries around the world, including India, Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam. Using a generalized quadratic production function, I explore whether major nutrients are substitutes as inputs and if there are complementarities between inorganic fertilizer and soil organic matter (SOM). The results suggest the relationships among major nutrients vary across sites—some inputs are complements, some are substitutes, and some are independent. The SOM also significantly affects the nitrogen fertilizer uptake. I conclude by suggesting that the SSNM strategy can be made to be more adaptive to farmer’s fields if these relationships are accounted for in the fertilizer recommendation algorithm.

Abstract

This chapter analyses the main challenges and opportunities to promote sustainable biogas technology adoption by smallholders through integrated food and energy systems (IFES), using a case study from Malonga village in the Limpopo Province of South Africa. Biogas has become attractive in recent years because of its multiple benefits and the contributions it can make to the UN SDGs. However, in Africa, its adoption remains low, due to several constraints, including: (1) water scarcity and lack of access to feedstocks; (2) high initial/upfront cost of installation and lack of investment; (3) lack of skilled labour for installation, operation and maintenance; (4) limited training facilities; (5) inadequate policy support and extension services; and (6) slow behavioural and social acceptance. Based on the information collected, integrated framework conditions that can encourage the adoption of smallholder biogas technology through IFES, were suggested. IFES will only succeed in delivering benefits, if the necessary framework conditions, such as adequate feedstock and water, training, policy support, stakeholder collaboration, credit and insurance and support services are provided. The implementation of the necessary framework conditions for biogas technology should be underpinned by conducting an integrated research study on using IFES type 2 in the context of smallholder farmers in Africa.

Abstract

This chapter emphasizes the need for active stakeholder engagement right through from strategy development to planning and implementation, to realize the benefits of sustainable bioeconomy development. In general, this varies between regions and countries. In the EU, it is considered important to engage stakeholders at all stages, whereas in developing countries engaging stakeholders so far has not been given much importance when launching new strategies. Stakeholders, including the private sector, research institutions, farmers organizations, the government and non-governmental organizations, all have important roles to play. The chapter focuses on the why, how and what type of stakeholders should be engaged, and the relevant benefits and challenges. It discusses experiences from the EU and other regions where stakeholder engagement (both formal and informal) and participative governance have led to or are necessary for successful and sustainable bioeconomy development.

To document

Abstract

We examine the origins, implications, and consequences of yield-based N fertilizer management. Yield-based algorithms have dominated N fertilizer management of corn (Zea mays) in the United States for almost 50 yr, and similar algorithms have been used all over the world to make fertilizer recommendations for other crops. Beginning in the mid-1990s, empirical research started to show that yield-based rules-of-thumb in general are not a useful guide to fertilizer management. Yet yield-based methods continue to be widely used, and are part of the principal algorithms of nearly all current “decision tool” software being sold to farmers for N management. We present details of the theoretical and empirical origins of yield-based management algorithms, which were introduced by George Stanford (1966, 1973) as a way to make N fertilizer management less reliant on data. We show that Stanford’s derivation of his “1.2 Rule” was based on very little data, questionable data omissions, and negligible and faulty statistical analysis. We argue that, nonetheless, researchers, outreach personnel, and private-sector crop management consultants were obliged to give some kind of N management guidance to farmers. Since data generation is costly, it is understandable that a broad, “ball park” rule-of-thumb was developed, loosely based on agronomic principles. We conclude by suggesting that technology changes now allow for exciting new possibilities in data-intensive fertilizer management research, which may lead to more efficient N management possibilities in the near future.

To document

Abstract

Mapping and valuating ecosystem services has gained increasing attention over the last years and remains high in the research agenda. In this paper, a mixed methods approach is used to valuate ecosystem services provided by the Divici-Pojejena wetland in Romania. A qualitative part relied on focus group discussions and interviews to identify key stakeholders and the ecosystem services provided by the wetland site. The benefit transfer (BT) method was used for the monetary valuation of the identified ecosystem services that the wetland provides. Bird watching opportunities, water quality, and flood prevention services are among the highest valued services, while the amenity services are the least valued among all wetland services.

To document

Abstract

We determine the production risk effects and welfare implications of single-trait Bt corn adoption in the Philippines. We use a stochastic production function estimation approach that allows for examining the skewness effects of Bt within a damage abatement specification. Our results indicate that Bt corn has a statistically significant yield increasing, risk-increasing (i.e., variance-increasing) and downside risk-reducing (i.e., skewness-increasing) effects. Based on risk premium, certainty equivalent, and loss probability welfare measures, Bt corn farmers in the Philippines are better-off (in absolute terms) relative to non-Bt farmers given Bt corn's dominant yield increasing effect and downside risk-reducing effect.

FoodsecURe logo_png

Division of Food Production and Society

FoodsecURe: Food security through better sanitation: the case of urine recycling


Human urine contains essential plant nutrients. Hence, urine can serve as a “free” and locally available fertiliser. Successful, low-cost urine-diverting toilets (UDTs) that separately collect urine have been developed in Scandinavia and Europe and manufactured at large scale in Africa. A solution for stabilising urine into a solid fertiliser has also been developed. 

But why can't we recycle urine at scale?

In Sweden UDTs are used in some cottages, and the Swedish University of Agricultural Science (SLU) has developed a method to stabilise and dry urine into a fertiliser product, urine-based fertiliser (UBF). FoodSecure aims to implement this technology at a medium scale in Ethiopia.

Active Updated: 26.01.2024
End: jun 2027
Start: jul 2023