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Meet YPARD mentee: Sally Musungu

By Elcah BarasaSally Musungu’s interest in farming was inculcated in her at a tender age. She was born and brought up in Western Kenya in a small village called Amagoro in Teso district in a farming family where she experienced farming firsthand. She saw her parents struggle with crop pests and diseases, she saw them struggle to keep their harvests without going bad, she saw their harvests reduce per acreage every season. This was sufficient to trigger her interest in farming and she decided to help her family increase its agricultural production.Her desire to help her farming parents motivated her to choose agriculture as her elective subject for her A-levels. This further propelled her to choose Agriculture as a career and she is now working in the sector. During her undergraduate studies she volunteered at the former Kenya Agricultural Research Institute (KARI) now known as KALRO and she was also an intern at the Kenya Forest Research Institute (KEFRI). After her graduation, she was employed by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). She worked for about two years before discovering her deficiencies in skills and knowledge in the field of sustainable agriculture and decided to resign to pursue a Masters degree in Sustainable Agronomy at Warwick University in the UK.“My postgraduate experience has changed the way I see sustainable agriculture and I am glad to be able to share my knowledge to help farmers especially small scale farmers” Sally admits that her masters degree has transformed her. She better understands the challenges many farmers go through – including her parents and she’s doing something about it. She is currently putting together a proposal for funding to start a project that will empower small scale farmers to maximize yields through sustainable farming practices. Through her projects, she intends to empower farmers so that they effectively participate in all activities along specific commodity value chains. This way, she argues that farmers will not only increase their produce but also reap full benefits from their farming enterprises. Trainings and market linkages are going to be central to her interventions.    Position:ResearcherCountry:KenyaEducation:Sustainable agromony, Warwick University UKMentor:Felister Nzuve, assistant lecturer at University of NairobiAs a young energetic and experienced agriculturalist, Sally is seeking to share her expertise whenever an opportunity presents itself. She has taken up consultancy and she is seeking for opportunities so as to share her expertise both locally in Kenya and at the global scene; her specialty is soil. She understands soil better than even the earthworm – and she says that soil microbes play a significant role in influencing growth and development of crops. However, little study has been done in Kenya regarding this fact – and so she has decided to examine major microbes in the soil, their interaction level and the subsequent effects of their interaction on performance of major crops in her mother land i.e. maize and Beans.Through this works, she hopes to change the way agriculture is perceived in Kenya and inspire many youths to choose agriculture as a career. According to a study by the FAO, an average farmer is aged above fifty. Sally warns that this is a threat to future food security – in the next decade these farmers are going to be older, weaker and unable to handle the tedious farm task. If nothing is done to make agriculture attractive enough to attract the youth, we should be prepared for long spells of hunger.For Sally, a future where small scale farmers can achieve high production through sustainable means and get rewards for their investment is what she would like to see. She is planning to contribute to the attainment of this future through her research work but this YPARD mentoring program offers her an opportunity to further her course. The program she believes is going to trigger her to unleash her hidden potential by discovering her other abilities, it will also provide her with useful connections and networks which she believes are all she needs in advancing her course of helping the small scale farmer.Elcah Barasa is an International Relations student at the Technical University of Kenya. She keeps indigenous chicken and as a blogger, she emerged the best female blogger in YoBloco Awards by CTA in 2014." Follow her at @Elcah_barasa and https://elcah.wordpress.com/