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"Love agriculture and it will love you back"

This success story is the second one of a series that spotlight IAAS members' experiences in agricultural development. YPARD-IAAS series will feature, every two weeks, young champions from different regions of the world.

I got in the field of agriculture without even realizing it. Just like most young girls I dreamt of working in an office wearing heals the whole day with makeup on my face. My parents would ask me to water the garden and I would enjoy doing it because that way, I could have more time to fantasize of my office job.

Society stereotypes used to give me the impression that agricultural activities are only for men, until I got to my secondary education. I was given agriculture as a practical subject and being the only female student in a class of 21 boys, it took me time to blend in. I engaged in all practical activities like milking cows, injecting cattle, spraying herbicides and applying fertilizer to crops. My performance was better than most of the guys which actually made me feel stronger and I worked on challenging the other guys. I knew I have great potential if I allow myself to explore and take it one step further.

That’s when I got to really understand the concept behind agriculture and at that time that’s when my parents got a farm and we had to move from the capital city of Zimbabwe, Harare to a sugarcane growing area, Chiredzi. From that point I started viewing farming at a higher level, I viewed it as the driving force of a country`s economy. I was natured in the field of agriculture gradually and at the present moment I can safely say I love agriculture.

IAAS Zimbabwe membersDuring my journey to explore the field of agriculture, I was offered an opportunity by my University (Africa University) to go to Iowa State in America for my internship. In other words, I wouldn’t have gotten that great experience if it hadn't been for Agriculture. I spent nearly four months there and during that period I met an incredible group of agricultural students, IAAS at the 57th World Congress 2014.

I was greatly inspired by how young people from over 30 countries come together and discuss current agric related issues engaging in activities that help different countries in tackling particular problems, being driven by the big question: “How can we feed the world in a sustainable way and conserve our resources for future generation?” When I got back to my country, I decided to start IAAS Zimbabwe.

I knew it was not going to be simple but I was driven by the fact that most young people in my country were not involved in big organizations like IAAS of which for one to develop his or her mindset in Agriculture, it's needed to be based in both practical and theoretical experience. For instance, my University had a lot of clubs for students but non of them was related to Agriculture so It was an achievement for the Faculty to have our own club with students who appreciate the importance of Agriculture and find much fun in it.

The response I got from both students and the faculty was phenomenal. It was something they wanted to be part of. We have a few projects going on right now. With the help of the University, we were given a piece of land (0.7 Ha) and grew maize. The project did not really come out as we planned due to limited resources and delays in getting fertilizers but we hope to get something out of it and fund for other upcoming projects. We are also working on a mushroom and bee project.

At the moment we are having the structures for mushroom production being set up and collecting required materials. My main aim is to promote sustainable Agriculture, economics and food production through young people. I believe that Agricultural development of a country is determined by how much it involves the youth in the industry.       

IAAS has surely changed my life in a positive way. I feel more confident and I know I can achieve whatever that I set my mind on. I feel like I have people that have similar perspectives towards agriculture and I have made family that I can share with information, problems, jokes and get advice from.

In most African countries, unemployment is a big issue and it is posing a threat on the economic, political and social development. Let us put an end to dependence syndrome, start our own projects, be agricultural entrepreneurs, and not depend on other people. You can be any person you want to be with Agriculture and the great thing about loving it is that, it also loves you back. As young people we can work together to boost agriculture and eventually, our economy.