Being a student in the double degree programme was a good experience for Hiwot in gaining both, academic and practical knowledge. Since the nature of the programme is multidisciplinary, it helped her becoming aware of many problems and challenges in the organic agriculture sector and equipped her with know-how of implementing solutions.
The scholarship supported by the Austrian Development Cooperation via the APPEAR programme allowed her to take multidisciplinary courses in other European countries such as Poland and Germany. In addition, as part of the programme, Hiwot deepened her knowledge with field visits to central European countries. There she learned about the status and trends of organic agriculture production in Europe, consumer preference and the marketing of organic products. In completing her master's programme abroad she had the opportunity to meet and interact with different people from various counties with diverse cultures, religions and languages.
The master’s programme is not only multidisciplinary but also a joint study programme between Aarhus University, BOKU, ISARA-Lyon, University of Hohenheim and the University of Life Sciences Warsaw. Hiwot therefore transferred to University of Hohenheim in Germany for the second year of her Master’s. However, due to the pandemic, she finalized the last semester of her course period via digital learning and also passed her defence online. Hiwot wrote her master thesis on the Socioeconomic impact of the polluted river ecosystem on riparian communities along three stretches of the Upper Awash River, Central Ethiopia under the supervision of Prof. Bernhard Freyer and Dr Sabine Zikeli. With her research she identified uses of river ecosystem service and – if improperly handled – its’ negative impacts in both human and animal health. Additionally, she studied community perceptions of river water pollutants in the area.
Besides her recent MSc degree in Organic Agricultural Systems and Agroecology, Hiwot Abebe holds a BSc in agribusiness management and a MSc in Agricultural Economics from Haramaya University (Ethiopia). She is currently working at the Ethiopian Institute of Agricultural Research (EIAR), National Fishery and Aquatic Life Research Centre (NFALRC) as an Associate Researcher in the division of Agricultural Economics. She has 11 years of research and development work experience in improving the livelihood of fishery-based communities both in the fisheries and aquaculture sectors in Ethiopia. Hiwot has authored and co-authored more than 8 publications in journals, several research reports, and edited proceedings. She has participated in the Land and River Management (LARIMA) project funded by the Austrian Development Cooperation (ADC). She is also a member and vice secretariate general for the newly established Ethiopian Chapter of African Women Fish Processors and Traders Network (AWFISHNET).