MY JOURNEY AS A RESEARCHER


Francisca Muteti

Eight months after I had attained my bachelor’s degree, my life revolved around the data collection (enumerator) jobs until I got the MCF@Ruforum scholarship. I enrolled for MSc. Agri Enterprises Development at Gulu University under Transforming African Agricultural Universities to meaningfully contribute to Africa’s growth and development (TAGDev) program. This helped me to achieve my dream of pursing a career in Agricultural research.

During my study, I was privileged to be a research fellow under the Rice CARP project, which aims at improving production through improved upland rice varieties in northern Uganda. Together with other team members, we conducted trials for different rice varieties while interacting with the local community. My participation in this project broadened my research skills, including research design and implementation. I completed my MSc research thesis which focused on farmer groups and rice millers in two years.

Most graduates from African Universities can attest to the scary life of a fresh graduate ready to enter the labor market; I am not an exception. Moving back to my country as a new graduate was a tough call to make. As most of us know, many people lost their jobs during and after the lockdown, and most companies were not hiring. The question is, what would happen to a fresh graduate if the experienced ones are already unemployed? But well, my passion for research compelled me to stay focused and face the music.  After applying to different organizations, I was offered an internship position at the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT), Kenya at the Socio-Economics department.  RUFORUM, through the FAPA program, funded my internship for six months.

During my internship at CIMMYT, I worked with a great team of economists, agronomists, and gender experts. I was able to apply the knowledge I acquired from the university to the real organizational research setting, thus, broadening my expertise. For instance, before joining CIMMYT, my primary focus was on quantitative research. Six months later, I had dived deep into qualitative research methods. This would not have been achieved without the support I got from my colleagues at CIMMYT and, more so, the virtual workshops organized by RUFORUM.

Francisca interacting with farmers during a farmer visit in Embu County, Kenya
Land preparation in Machakel district, Ethiopia

Besides the scientific aspect of research, I have learned the value of appreciating cultural differences in relinquishing good outcomes. I firmly believe that this experience will help me seize the opportunities yet to come and become the scientist I always want to be.

“It is only by becoming part of a community that we can understand the problem.”

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