PhD studies Opportunity: Trade‐offs and synergies in climate change adaptation and mitigation for Arabica coffee systems in Uganda and Tanzania

Objectives of this study:The German Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) has recently funded a collaborative project “Trade‐offs and synergies in climate change adaptation and mitigation in coffee and cocoa systems” led by IITA and with partners from CIAT, the University of Göettingen and several research and extension institutions in the regions. The overall objective is to quantify and analyze the productivity, profitability and carbon footprint of various Arabica coffee systems in smallholder farming systems in Uganda and Tanzania.  An outcome of this initiative is to develop climate smart technologies and strategies which will be packaged into toolboxes to help inform and train farmers on best‐bet climate change adaptation/mitigation options. Within this framework and along latitudinal gradients representing the farm types in the above figure, this PhD study will:
  1. characterise the farming system by undertaking on‐farm surveys and sampling to understand the key drivers/constraints;
  2. utilise existing predictive models (climate suitability, crop and tree models) at various scales to characterise yield gaps and predict where climate change will most affect production;
  3. undertake agronomic based trials to validate predictions or to develop new understanding of plant response to management (e.g. shade, increased nutrient status etc.).  
The key tools/skills the student will therefore develop and use include: interviews and survey techniques; climate data collation and analysis; use of predictive crop suitability models (e.g. Maxent, Crop physiological models) at various scales, plot level agronomic experimental techniques.Role and duration:A well qualified and highly motivated individual is sought to undertake his/her PhD studies enrolled through the University of Goettingen. Over the 3 years starting October 2013, the PhD student will spend at least 2 extended periods (6‐8 months/trip) collecting field and survey data in Uganda and Tanzania in co‐operation with the project partners and hosted by IITA. The balance of their time will be spent in Göttingen, Germany completing project proposal and course work requirements, data analysis and writing of the thesis. The doctoral thesis will be done as a series of manuscripts (chapters) published in English.Salary and conditions:Salary is on the basis of a 50% TVL13 position appointment at the University of Goettingen, resulting in ca. 1135 € net/per month. In addition, travel expenses and research costs will be covered during stays at the research sites.Selection criteria:The applicant must meet the criteria for enrolment into the International PhD Program for Agricultural Sciences (IPAG) for which a good masters degree (agronomy, plant physiology or a related field) and proof of proficiency in English are pre‐requisites amongst others. In addition to these requirements, other criteria we will consider favorably are:
  • Demonstrated ability to work independently in the field
  • Demonstrated ability to manage and analyse data from experiments and utilize crop or tree models.
  • Good oral and written communication skills in English
  • Experience in writing reports and papers
While the selection of candidates will be first and foremost based on scientific capacity by an independent academic committee of the university, we encourage suitably qualified young nationals from the project region to apply. In addition, the University of Göttingen and IITA are equal opportunity employers and particularly welcome applications from women candidates.Applications:Applicants should send as a single pdf file:
  1. a covering letter outlining your motivation for this position;
  2. Curriculum Vitae, outlining your education, work history, publications and the names (with email addresses) of two references;
  3. Transcripts of your academic record from Bachelor and Masters level studies to the following three email addresses as soon as possible (closing date July 15, 2013);;
For further information, please contact one of the following people:Prof. Anthony Whitbread (, Crop Productions Systems in the Tropics, Georg‐August University, Göttingen, Germany; see here.Dr. Sophie Graefe (, Tropical Silviculture and Forest Ecology, Georg‐August University, Göttingen, Germany; see here.Dr. Piet van Asten (, Systems Agronomist, International Institute of Tropical Agriculture.Download this document for full information.
University of Goettingen website