I OWE MY CAREER JOURNEY AND PROGRESSION TO RUFORUM


Redempter Mbula Mutinda

It has been my dream to pursue a career in agricultural research. At an early age, my interest in agriculture blossomed into a passion. Growing up in a semi-arid region of Kenya, livestock and a few crops farming were the main sources of livelihood. Despite the role agriculture played, its potential was underutilized in production practices and marketing. The desire to learn more about sustainable farming methods led me to pursue bachelor of Science in Agribusiness management.

In 2016, I graduated with first class honors degree in Agribusiness management from Jaramogi Oginga Odinga University of Science and Technology. I did not only apply for internship opportunities, but also for master degree. In March 2017, I received a Daily Nation screenshot with details of MCF@RUFORUM scholarship call via WhatsApp. I applied and I was awarded the scholarship to pursue Master of science in Agri-enterprise Development at Egerton University, Kenya. I accepted the offer with much joy since it was a comprehensive support including a monthly stipend, laptop and medical insurance.

My journey with RUFORUM started in July 2017, with a detailed joint orientation program at Egerton University, we got introduced to TAGDev program which is funded by MasterCard Foundation through RUFORUM. Several topics were covered including Transformational Leadership, Personal Mastery, Rural transformation and Innovations. The orientation signified a start of life changing journey. Networking with different scholars from Africa and research organizations such as African Women in Agricultural Research and Development (AWARD) was eye opening. My communication skills improved and I learnt that it is important to be presentably present in social media in this era. I started using my twitter account to communicate science and for networking with other professionals in agriculture.

When I started the course, it was a different approach, focusing more on experiential learning. At master level I had a practical lesson on agri-enterprise field visits at Pokea Dairy Farm, Nakuru. I got first-hand experience with dairy value chain from production to marketing. During my research project, I interacted directly with small scale potato farmers in Nakuru to identify their needs along the potato value chain. As part of the course, I was involved in a potato crisps enterprise that equipped me with practical entrepreneurship skills. The experiential learning approach strengthened my desire to pursue a career in agricultural research. It made me believe that delivering simple skills and technologies straight to farmers at community level is the next boundless cutting edge in agriculture innovation. Egerton University and RUFORUM introduced me to ICRISAT in October 2019 and supported me for a 9 months internship program.

I currently work at ICRISAT as a research consultant under Enabling Systems Transformation global research program. My work focuses on enhancing climate security in drylands by supporting agro-pastoral systems transformation. My career objective is to become a transformational agricultural leader in Africa by economically empowering smallholder farmers through research and entrepreneurship. I am planning to pursue a doctoral degree and through the RUFORUM alumni network, I have learnt and applied for different opportunities. I believe through the network I will get a scholarship and build my research skills through trainings and networking with colleagues from different parts of the world.

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