My name is Iyaloo Sheyavali. I hail from Oheti region in northern Namibia. I am currently a final year student pursuing a master of science degree in Food Security and Community Nutrition at Gulu University in Uganda. My programme is funded under the Transforming African Agricultural Universities to meaningfully contribute to Africa’s growth and development project (TAGDev), and supported by the MasterCard Foundation.
Iyaloo Sheyavali from Namibia is a Mastercard Scholar at Gulu University under TAGDev projects
Since I got into this programme, it has been quite a journey—both inspiring and challenging at the same time. I gained experience, I got exposed to a diversity of people, from different backgrounds and countries, and I attended conferences and trainings on personal development and entrepreneurship. Some of the trainings I’ve participated in include how to make biomass briquettes, research proposal writing, data analysis, and report writing. I was also involved in a number of field visits, where I interfaced with farmers who are engaged in different agricultural enterprises including livestock, horticulture and mixed farming. I have also worked closely with the community during field attachments https://ruforum.wordpress.com/2019/08/22/in-the-community-gulu-university-msc-students-train-mothers-on-nutrition/ and throughout my research process. These experiences have made me develop team spirit and professionalism.
Life in Uganda
Uganda has now become my second home. The people are kind, loving and smart. I have seen so many opportunities here especially in the food sector. This is particularly so in the areas of food processing, quality and safety. With weather that favours agricultural production throughout the year, the country has done well to harness this benefit to its advantage.
Coming from a semi-arid country, I was surprised to see a lot of fresh fruits and vegetables throughout the year here. For instance, in my country, avocados and pineapples are expensive and rare. However, food waste remains a huge challenge for Uganda. Food gets wasted because in a season, the output from the farmers cannot all be absorbed by the market. Given that most of these are perishable products, with a short shelf-life, a big percentage of it gets thrown away before it is consumed.
Value addition remains low or lacking in many instances.
I once experimented adding value to tomatoes by cooking and turning it into paste and then using vinegar as a preservative. When I showcased it at Gulu University’s first agri-preneurship symposium, it drew a lot of interest from the public, and all the products I made were bought. I hope before I complete my school programme, I can get a chance to teach a group of women in the community the different methods of processing fruits and vegetables safely, without altering or losing their nutritional value.
During this period, I have spent at home because of the Covid-19 lockdown, I have learnt one lesson: do not help people by giving them money, but rather create for them a source of income. I come from a large family that is supported by a single parent–my mother Hambeleleni Sheyavali. This puts a lot of pressure on her and becomes even more challenging when learners return to school. So, to ease that pressure, I decided to create an extra stream of income for the family.
I bought 50 Lohmann brown chicken (layers) for my mother. Over the past one year, she has managed to run the chicken business successfully and it is sustaining itself. She also lost only three chickens during the process. With this success and lessons learnt, we plan to buy extra 500 chickens to expand the business.
The experience and exposure I gained from the TAGDev scholarship has made all this possible, and I am excited to return home and build on this progress. I believe this is a stepping stone to many more great ventures. I would like to thank MasterCard Foundation, RUFORUM and the TAGDev team for the support, training and mentorship.
By Iyaloo Sheyavali