Global Academy of Agriculture and Food Systems

MSc in Global Food Security and Nutrition Student Blog

Two of our Richard Davidson scholarship students share the impact being part of this programme has had on them and their work.


As the MSc in Global Food Security and Nutrition enters its third year, we want to highlight the dedication and success of our students. Two of our Richard Davidson scholarship students, Juana and Daniel share below the impact being part of this programme has had on them and their work.


'As our students progress, I know they will translate the skills we teach them into action to improve food security in their communities and Daniel and Juana have shown great dedication and motivation  in this - characteristics seen in all our students.'

Dr Fiona BorthwickProgramme Director


Juana Yupangco

Recipient of the Richard Davidson Scholarship 2019-2020

Receiving the Richard Davidson Scholarship last school year was a blessing that came at an extraordinary time. The scholarship enabled me to further and to solidify programs that I was creating for my NGO, Mesa Ni Misis, that focuses on plant based nutrition for underprivileged communities.

The first term’s topic, Nutrition, taught me how to take surveys of populations. I was able to apply these methods to record the Minimum Dietary Diversity Score to a community that we started working with. This enabled us to gather data as well as devise healthy eating programs based on their tastes and food available in the community.

Image of market
Image of market

2020 started off with a bang in the Philippines, as the New Year saw the eruption of Taal Volcano. Immediately, a large portion of the food supply to the capital, Manila was cut off. I had the remaining units, Sustainable Food Production and Frameworks to Assess food Security as a guide for the next few months. It was astounding as what we were learning week by week was unfolding before my very eyes. I had the tools to understand and assess what was happening and put what I was learning to use. March 15 saw the start of a country wide lockdown that paralyzed the country’s food supply. We worked with local city governments, hospitals, other places in need of packed food as there was hardly any food available in supermarkets. In the first 3 months of the pandemic, we provided 17,720 healthy meals that made use of local vegetables from farmers who could not move their produce to those working on the front lines. We were also able to mobilize food from nearby provinces to be brought into the city, and created a mobile market to take fresh produce into locked down areas of Metro Manila. As of July, we were able to serve 167,360 families fresh produce.

​Workers at the market ​
Workers at the market ​

The core mission of my organization, is to promote the use of indigenous crops to use them in a way that is familiar to local cuisine. Our programs are now more in line with Sustainable Development Goals, which were covered on the course. In Professor Cesar Revoredo-Giha’s course, I learned that so many of the orphan crops that were being studied as climate resilient crops are indigenous to the Philippines. I was able to finish the cookbook that I was writing that includes information on local crops, and incorporated some of the things I learned about orphan crops. This has propelled me to create more recipes using these crops as well as share research on them on our organization’s different platforms. A few years ago, I thought this might be a shallow, short term goal. On the course, I learned that this was a very valuable aspect in creating diet diversity in local communities. There was a part of me that wasn’t sure how solid the principles were that guided my organization were. I can finally support the ideas I had with solid research and learnings from the course as well as put to use all the learnings I have, and has now given me solid footing to stand on.






Daniel Ocom

Programme Development Specialist, Food Security and Livelihood, Samaritan Purse in South Sudan

Recipient of the 2019-2020 Richardson Davidson Scholarship

I wanted to thank you in a very special way for awarding me this scholarship. I was very excited and appreciative to learn that I was selected as the recipient of your scholarship. I am appreciative of your support of my education and career development.

As a food security and nutrition worker, I was able to use the knowledge/skills gained during the first year to serve conflict-affected populations in South Sudan, particularly women and children to achieve better food security and nutrition outcomes. Since my work involves designing and management of food security and nutrition programs at the country level, I was able to use the skills that I gained o enhance the design of our food sec

urity and nutrition strategy. This is because my understanding of the concepts related to food security and the frameworks necessary to evaluate food security at a local and global level had greatly improved. Also, by working with colleagues to solve course assignments, I learned how to go about a certain problem. For example, while conducting a case study of an Armenian food security situation, I appreciated how the group distributed the tasks and supported each other to identify bottlenecks and entry points. In terms of learning, this course exposed me to understand the multifaceted nature of food security and nutrition and the fact that multisector approaches are needed to address them. This greatly shaped my understanding of food security and nutrition as a global problem.

Thank you once again for awarding me this scholarship and I am looking forward to doing well with the “Richard Davidson investment” during the diploma year (2020-2021). By awarding me the Richard Davidson, you have lightened my financial burden which allows me to focus more on the most important aspect of postgraduate learning. Your generosity has inspired me to help others and give back to the community. I hope one day I will be able to help students achieve their goals just as this has helped me.