13 May 2015

New professor in socio-economic structures and living conditions in development countries

New professor

Niels Fold has commenced as professor at Department of Geosciences and Natural Resource Management at University of Copenhagen. He researches in socio-economic structures and living conditions in developing countries and works among other things with global value chains for agricultural products and the importance of small-scale mining for the affected local community. He is also the head of a partnership which is building up research training at the agricultural university of Tanzania.

Niels Fold. Photo: Kent Pørksen

Niels Fold. Photo: Kent Pørksen

Niels Fold researches in socio-economic structures and living conditions in the developing countries especially in Africa and South-East Asia. The common thread is agro-industrial value chains which incorporate the value adding processes from production to consumption. Value chains tell about the social and economic links between agriculture and industry which is of the essence in a development perspective. Niels Fold investigates among other things value chains and regional development in the Mekong delta in Vietnam. This area is very dynamic but also includes so-called “pockets of poverty” which are areas where poverty accumulate in one place. The central question is what creates poverty in these “pockets” – lack of infrastructure, special natural conditions or dependence on a specific product (i.e. rice or fish-farming).

Another research area is small-scale mining in Ghana and Tanzania where Niels Fold in cooperation with GEUSresearches in the extraction of gold, rubies, salt, gravel etc. by the use of simple technology and often without formal permissions. On a global scale millions of people depend on small-scale mining and the research projects investigates the conditions for the involved workers and local communities. One example of small-scale mining is the extraction of salt from seawater in a lagoon in Ghana. Here the locals and to an increasing extend also external actors produce salt by evaporating seawater. The water in the lagoon has traditionally been a common resource. But now it is a growing industry where simple tools are slowly being replaced by bulldozers and pumps, and conflicts occurs over the right to the seawater.

Niels Fold’s expertise has also brought him at the head of a partnership between Sokoine University of Agriculture (SUA) in Tanzania and a consortium with University of Copenhagen, Aarhus University, Aalborg University and Technical University of Denmark. The goal of the partnership is to strengthen the Ph.D.- program at SUA. DANIDA is the initiator of the partnership which started in 2014 and is expected to finish in 2016. The purpose is to make SUA a university of world-wide reputation with research of high quality. At SUA research focus on agriculture – including disciplines in natural sciences, life sciences, social sciences and also interdisciplinary sciences. This research is to be strengthened with financial support from DANIDA. During the two-year period 15 courses for Ph.D.-students are scheduled to be implemented. The courses will be held by the researchers from Denmark, but will be handed over to researchers from SUA. In that way the courses will become a permanent part of the Ph.D. -programs at SUA.

“In two years it is expected that there will be 2-3 Ph.D. programs fully developed at SUA. Another part of the project is to create research groups among the researchers at SUA in order to encourage a coordinated research effort which can contribute to increase the amount of externally financed projects,” Niels Fold tells.

Niels Fold holds a PhD in Geography from University of Copenhagen and for a number of years he has been employed at Department of Geosciences and Natural Resource Management – during the last 8 years as a professor MSO but now employed in a permanent professorship. He will give an inaugural lecture with a subsequent reception Thursday 28 May at 2 pm. in Auditorium B, Department of Geosciences and Natural Resource Management, Øster Voldgade 10, 1350 Copenhagen K.

Contact: Professor Niels Fold, e-mail: nf@ign.ku.dk, phone: + 45 35 32 25 61 and + 45  40 27 75 16

Niels Fold with the SUA group

Professor Niels Fold and associate professor Marianne Nylandsted Larsen with Ph.d.-students from Sokoine University of Agriculture in Tanzania