iAGRI Students Reflect on Innovation

iAGRI Students Reflect on Innovation

In an online discussion, iAGRI Training Coordinator, Wendi Howell posed the following question to iAGRI current and former students:

“With your graduate degree, are you better-positioned to make the contributions that you envisioned? What expertise do you now bring to the table and how are you applying it?”

Responses from two members of the iAGRI community demonstrate just how central innovation is to their work. In the following, current iAGRI student, Joyce Mwakatoga and former iAGRI student Kadeghe Fue share how they plan to translate their research and training into impact through innovation for Tanzanian farming communities.

Joyce Mwakatoga is a Cohort IV student pursuing an M.Sc. in Agricultural Extension Education at Ohio State University. Joyce completed her B.Sc. in Agricultural Education and Extension prior to applying for an iAGRI scholarship. She is now based in Columbus, Ohio in the US pursuing research focused on improving food production and security through youth programs in agriculture.

“As agricultural graduates, we all aspire to make a big impact on the sector and on our communities. For emerging professionals like myself who come from farming families, it’s distressing to look at our loved ones practicing agriculture in a traditional way using inefficient tools and outdated inputs. Personally, I can’t wait for my research to be complete and to come up with ways to engage youth and their families in agricultural-related issues. From there, I think I will be able to fully realize my direct contribution to the societies I work with.”

Kadeghe Fue, a Cohort II student who completed his M.Sc. in Agricultural Engineering at the University of Florida wrote his thesis on the Development of a Precision Irrigation Control System for Horticultural Food Crops in Tanzania. He specializes in agro-informatics and automation engineering. His research developed a tool that enabled weather data to be downloaded using any android based smartphone. The wireless technology incorporated made it possible to transfer instant rainfall and soil moisture content data. Since completing his studies, he now serves as an Assistant Lecturer at Sokoine University of Agriculture (SUA) encouraging students to develop new approaches to addressing inefficiencies in agricultural production. Here, he reflects on entrepreneurship and the need for innovation in Tanzania’s agricultural sector.

“Innovation? That’s the key to development. Everyone should think of the best ways to engage youth in creating their/our future. The knowledge from the universities should be entrepreneur-oriented that emphasizes the creation of new competitive tools or products, creation of new jobs, finding financial opportunities and maximising existing conditions so that can individuals can contribute to the progress of business. In agriculture, no one should wait for a job.”

Joyce and Kadeghe are two of the 139 students funded by iAGRI to pursue advanced degrees in the agricultural sciences. Their attitude towards agriculture reflects the nature of work pursued by iAGRI students and the emphasis on innovation fostered by the program. iAGRI is supported by USAID under the Feed the Future Initiative.

If you are a current or former iAGRI student and would like to contribute to upcoming discussions, join the iAGRI LinkedIn group.

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January 27, 2016