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Student Spotlight: Emmanuel Domonko

With an estimated 670,000 children under five years of age dying annually, approximately 250,000-500,000 children in developing contries becoming blind each year due to vitamin A deficiency (VAD), and the highest prevalence of vitamin A deficiency in southeast Asia and Africa, Emmanuel Domonko is gathering data about consumer preference and willingness to pay for biofortified rice that could save lives.

Access to vitamin A rich foods is limited, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia.  Current programs to provide vitamin supplements and food fortification are less likely to reach rural areas.  Vitamins, in particular, are expensive costing an estimated $2.8 billion per year.  Golden rice, a genetically engineered crop, could be the answer.

Golden rice is genetically engineered with added beta-carotene providing the much needed daily dose of vitamin A for the average human diet.  On the other hand, the acceptance of genetically engineered crops in Africa is slow due to consumer perceptions and farmers’ uncertainty of success selling and profiting from the new crop.

Domonko’s research will provide greater insight into the viability of genetically engineered foods for the local market while researchers continue to find a solution for vitamin A deficiency in African and Asian regions.

As a Master of Science thesis student, Domonko is working with food and resource economics assistant professor Dr. Brandon McFadden, a leading researcher on consumer behavior, food choice, and public attitudes towards contemporary agriculture production.  Since starting the program, Domonko has already co-authored an article published in Farm Policy Journal with Dr. McFadden and Dr. Conner Mullally titled, Biotechnology Applications for Consumers in Developing Areas and Consumer Accept.

“What I love most about the department is the positive ‘we can do it’ atmosphere that encourages me to work hard.  I was so encouraged while working on the journal article,” said Domonko.

In addition to conducting research in Tanzania, Domonko is a business owner producing sunflower oil, a staple for local food preparation.

Domonko is a proud Florida Gator, sporting the Florida Gator logo on his vehicle and clothing as he travels to remote rural villages in Tanzania conducting research.

Learn More:

*Resources provided by Gail P. A. Kauwell, PhD, RDN, LDN, professor, UF/IFAS, Food Sciences & Human Nutrition Department

Article Reference:

Domonko, ES, McFadden, BR, Mullaly, C (2015) Biotechnology Applications for Consumers in Developing Areas and Consumer Accept, Farm Policy Journal, vol. 12, no. 3, pp. 25-35

Gathering Research to Help Save Lives

Emmanuel Domonko interviews a Tanzanian consumer gathering preference and willingness to pay for biofortified rice that could save lives.