Burning Questions Fellowships Recent Award Winners

Overview of the Fellowships

Why do we offer these fellowships?

  • The fellowships support academic researchers who are interested in:
    • Helping front-line persons tackling negative impacts of industrial food animal production deepen their understanding of the many complex issues that are involved, especially those concerning low- and middle-income countries.
    • Examining these impacts and issues for the researchers’ own scholarly purposes.
  • The fellowships are also aimed at benefiting persons who are addressing these negative impacts. Some of them have shared their “burning questions” with us.

What do fellowship recipients do during their four-month award period?

  • The main task of a fellowship recipient during the award period is to prepare one report (6,000 – 7,000 words) in plain language which we call Guidance Memo.
  • Guidance Memos’ primary objective: Provide sound information and clear explanations that deepen front-line persons’ understanding of the issues addressed; highlight key considerations that they may not be aware of; offer practical advice that can help them with their work.
  • Topics addressed in a Guidance Memo are directly relevant to “burning questions”.
  • Fellowship recipients can also undertake other research work of their choice during the award period, but that work should be related to the topics they have chosen for their Guidance Memos.

2021 Spring/Summer Award Recipients

Maureen K. Luvanda

Location: Kenya
Academic field: Infection and immunology
Award category: PhD Holder

Guidance Memo

  • Title: “Situational analysis of farm animal cruelty in large farms, general community and in relevant government authorities operating In Kenya”
  • Keywords: Farm animal welfare. Livestock farmers practices. Government legislations and regulations. Kenya.
  • What We Learned From It:
    • There are legislation and policies in Kenya that are relevant to farm animal welfare. Various Kenyan laws and policies that prohibit animal cruelty do exist, and offences are punishable.
    • The main reasons why farm animals in the country are not handled and treated well, based on applied qualitative methods which include semi-structured interviews and observations of usual everyday activities of farmers at 126 large and small farms, veterinarians, front-line workers such as herdsmen, academic experts, and government officials.
    • Many farmers in Kenya do not understand the fundamental meaning of animal welfare. They do not have specialized training in animal welfare, and are not aware of existing relevant legislation.
    • African culture, religion, pre-established practices, community involvement, economic strength appear to play a great role in influencing how farmers in Kenya handle their animals.
    • To improve the situation: 1. Implement comprehensive programs targeting farmers and other front-line workers in the livestock sector to help them gain a deep understanding of government regulations concerning animal welfare. 2. Engage with policymakers and advocacy organizations to generate and foster strong policies that promote welfare and eliminate cruelty to farm animals.


Some of the Things We Really Liked when We Read the Application

  • Paths that different countries can take to improve the treatment of farm animals vary signficantly, especially when comparing countries with well-established animal welfare regulations and those without. That is why in order to move the needle one has to understand the unique position and standing that animal welfare holds in each country. This application is aimed at clarifying the situation in Kenya – a country we think those tackling farm animal welfare in Africa are interested in learning more.
  • The applicant works at a livestock research institute in Kenya and have access to colleagues in the country whom she can consult.

Mehroosh Tak, Ivo Syndicus, Ambarish Karamchedu

Location: U.K.
Academic field: Economics (Tak); Anthropology (Syndicus); International development (Karamchedu)
Award category: PhD Team

Topics to be Addressed during the Award Period

How to identify economic and financial drivers of industrial poultry production in developing countries, using the case study of Indian poultry.

  1. Provide a step-by-step primer that NGOs trying to address the problem of increasing industrialization of livestock production in low- and middle-income countries can use to research and generate evidence about the economic and global finance drivers of corporate expansions and concentration of industrialized poultry production in these countries.
  2. Use the case of India’s poultry sector to examine how public policies together with financialization play a significant role in shaping broiler chicken production’s vertical integration in India.

Some of the Things We Really Liked when We Read the Application

  • This application’s focus on economic and financial drivers is an excellent fit for Tiny Beam Fund. One of our main goals is to deepen the understanding of the complexities in the industrial model and system of producing livestock.
  • It is aimed specifically at delivering practical guidance to readers.
  • We are very keen to support individuals with advanced training in applied economics, political economy, development economics. After all, industrial food animal production and “factory farms” are businesses. And in many developing countries, business, corporate, financial, and international trade issues are closely bound up with policies and politics.

Peter Newton

Location: U.S.
Academic field: Environmental studies
Award category: PhD Holder

Topics to be Addressed during the Award Period

Transitioning out of livelihoods in low- and middle-income countries (especially Brazil) that depend on working in mid- and large-scale farm animal production.

  1. Address the questions: What is the state of knowledge on the opportunities and risks faced by these persons in the coming years and decades if, for whatever reasons, industrial animal agriculture no longer reigns supreme? Is it possible for them to shift into occupations and livelihoods that do not involve livestock (e.g. alternative protein)?
  2. Present evidence and case-studies where successful transitions have occurred in different parts of the world, and identify the types of conditions, policies, and support that have facilitated these transitions.

Some of the Things We Really Liked when We Read the Application

  • We think this rarely discussed but important “human” aspect of industrial animal agriculture is worthy of support. What consideration should be given to persons working for or contracted by operators of factory farms or who are large-scale livestock producers /owners if large farms are closed down or the industrial model is not in use anymore? One cannot treat these persons – and there is a huge number of such persons in low- and middle-income countries – as “collateral damage”. These persons need to be able to make a decent living doing other kinds of work, and producing alternative proteins instead may be a good new pathway. On the other hand, one also cannot keep using the excuse of “well, there are all these hundreds of millions of livelihoods that must not be jeopardized, so let’s maintain the status quo and not meddle with the current industrial model”.

Explore Past Awards