Core Team

Core Research Team


Dr. Edward Mabaya, Principal Investigator
Ed is an academic and a development practitioner in the field of Agricultural Economics. As a development practitioner, Ed is involved in several programs that seek to improve the lives of African farmers through private enterprises and public policy. In various capacities, he has more than a decade of experience with seed sector development across Sub-Saharan Africa. As a Senior Research Associate in the Charles H. Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management at Cornell University, he conducts research on food marketing and distribution, seed systems, and the role of efficient agricultural markets in Africa's economic development. He is currently the Associate Director at the Cornell International Institute for Food, Agriculture, and Development. Ed earned his MS and Ph.D. degrees in Agricultural Economics at Cornell University and his B.Sc. from the University of Zimbabwe. Ed has published widely including five books, 21 book chapters, 17 journal articles and 11 OpEds. His work has received many distinguished recognitions including for "42 African Innovators to Watch in 2016" by Ventures Africa magazine, Coca Cola Africa Diaspora Network 2013 recognition for "dedicated service and contribution towards sustainable development in Africa" and the 2006 and 2017 L.A. Potts Success Story award for "program with model resulting in high impact on poor communities". Ed is currently president of the African Association of Agricultural Economists (2016-2019).


Mainza Mugoya, Regional Coordinator
Based in Nairobi, Kenya, his role is to coordinate the roll-out of the TASAI index to more than ten (10) countries across Africa. This entails working closely with the country research teams, reviewing country reports and coordinating the dissemination of the findings. Mainza was previously with the Eastern Africa Farmers’ Federation (EAFF), working as the Policy Officer. His work entailed leading EAFF’s policy work at the regional level, and working closely with the EAFF member organizations at the national level. He also managed several projects aimed at building capacity of farmer organizations from the sub-national to the regional levels.


Professor Ralph D. Christy, Economic Advisor
Ralph is the founder of Market Matters, Inc. and is Director of the Cornell International Institute for Food, Agriculture and Development and Professor of Emerging Markets at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, where he teaches and conducts food marketing research and educational programs on the economic performance of markets and distribution systems. He has advised industry leaders and public policy makers on food marketing strategies, economic development, and the organization of the global food economy. A Ph.D. graduate of Michigan State University's Department of Agricultural Economics, Christy is past President of the American Agricultural Economics Association, and past Board Member of the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation, WinRock International, and the Agribusiness Capital Fund.


Dr. Krisztina Tihanyi, Program Administrator
Kriszta divides her time between the 'real world' and academia. At Market Matters Inc. she is Chief Operating Officer. In this capacity, she coordinates the organization’s agribusiness training portfolio and publication activities. She is also in charge of grant writing and administration, as well as fundraising and financial management. At Cornell University she holds visiting appointments at the Institute for African Development and the Cornell International Institute for Food, Agriculture, and Development. Her background includes degrees in Psychology, International Peace Studies, and Anthropology. A Ph.D. graduate of Cornell University, Kriszta has a keen interest in developing educational programs that lead to social and economic transformation.


Amruta Byatnal, Program Assistant
Amruta is a recent graduate of the Masters in Public Administration program at Cornell University. Her interests lie at the intersection of food security, inclusive markets and gender. Originally from India, Amruta has worked on projects in Cambodia, Tanzania and Zimbabwe. As a former journalist, she is keen to use her experience to communicate policy and research to a wider audience.


Emma Quilligan, Research Assistant
Emma Quilligan is currently studying for an MPA in International Development at Cornell University, having previously received an MSc in Science Communication from Imperial College, London, and a BSc in Zoology from the University of Bristol. Emma is most passionate about improving the lives of smallholder farming communities. Prior to braving the cold of upstate New York, she spent 1.5 years living in a remote coastal community of southeast Madagascar, where she worked with a local NGO to diversify livelihoods and increase the sustainability of local natural resources for villages in the path of a large mining project. Before that, her work as a project developer and communications specialist for the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) took her from the maize fields of Mexico, to urban farms in the highlands of Kathmandu, to high-level political meetings in Islamabad. At Cornell, Emma is focusing her work on the agriculture value chain; studying the economics and policy of agriculture at an international level, in the hope that she can return to the field (literally) and make a valuable contribution to increasing food security. Emma is also Professional Development Chair for Cornell’s Women in Public Policy.