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Steven Were Omamo

World Food Programme (WFP), Senior Advisor

Kenya

What most impressed the professional colleagues who nominated this role model?

Steven Were Omamo has served with distinction in a variety of agricultural institutions.  He joined AGRA in 2012 from the World Food Programme (WFP), where he served as Director of the Addis Ababa Liaison Office and Representative to the African Union and UN Economic Commission for Africa.  Prior to that, he was Deputy Director of WFP’s Policy, Planning and Strategy Division, Chief of the Food Security and Safety Nets Service, and Chief of the Social Protection and Safety Nets Service. 

A national of Kenya, Dr. Omamo has served in several national, regional and international organizations, including Egerton University, the Kenya Agricultural Research Institute, the Association for Strengthening Agricultural Research in Eastern and Central Africa, the International Service for National Agricultural Research, the International Livestock Research Institute, and the International Food Policy Research Institute. Dr. Omamo has published extensively on agricultural and broader economic development policy, with a particular focus on policy requirements for strengthening smallholder agriculture in Africa.  

What motivated you to pursue a career in agriculture?

  • My family was involved in commercial farming, raising livestock and growing maize, coffee and sugar cane.  Though I grew up in Nairobi, I spent my holidays on the farm. 
  • I come from a large family.  Farming paid for university for all 16 children. 
  • From an early age, I saw farming as a clearly profitable business enterprise. 

How can agricultural education institutions more effectively prepare African students for successful agribusiness careers? 

  • Need to show rewarding careers exist in agriculture, raise the profile and reputation of farming.
  • Teach practical skills necessary in farming.  Egerton had 2-year diploma programs that offered good practical preparation.  This program really made Egerton’s reputation.  Agricultural education system needs more such programs
  • Need to help students understand risk.  In farming, you will lose money some years and make money in many more.  If youth are not prepared for this volatility, they may become discouraged. 

Career highlights

  • World Food Programme (WFP), Senior Advisor, December 2014 to present.  
  • Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA),  Head of Policy and Advocacy, October 2012 to December 2014.
  • World Food Programme (WFP), Chief of Social Protection and Livelihoods Division, Deputy Director for Policy and Planning, Director of African Union Liaison Office.
  • International  Service for National Agricultural Research (ISNAR), Post-doctoral fellow and ASARECA liaison.
  • International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), Research Fellow
  • Egerton University, Lecturer in Agricultural Economics and Business.

Educational background

  • Primary school:         
    • Lugard Primary School, Nakuru.
    • Lavington Primary, Nairobi.
    • St. Mary’s School, Nairobi.
  • Secondary school:     
    • St. Mary’s School, Nairobi.
  • University:                 

    • BSc, California State University, Fresno, Agricultural Business, 1986.
    • MSc, University of Connecticut, Agricultural Economics, 1988.
    • PhD, Stanford University, Agricultural Economics, 1995.