In early March, Master’s degree student Frida Nyamete presented her work to a group of agricultural research and development experts who were gathered in Tanzania as part of a meeting of the Feed the Future Collaborative Research Innovation Labs (formerly Collaborative Research Support Programs, or “CRSPs”).
At that meeting, Feed the Future staff based in Washington and African countries came together with partners from U.S. universities, national and international agricultural research institutions, and project implementers to discuss existing East African programs and strategies to bring promising agricultural technologies to scale. Throughout the three days of discussion on scientific advancement, programming, and technology adoption, one major theme kept recurring: in order to achieve sustainable food security, we must focus on training the next generation of agricultural scientists.
Nyamete is an example of how Feed the Future moves us closer to that goal. A second-year Food Science and Human Nutrition student at Michigan State University, Nyamete is currently completing her in-country research at Tanzania’s Sokoine University of Agriculture as part of the Feed the Future-funded Innovative Agricultural Research Initiative (iAGRI), which aims to equip the next generation of Tanzanian researchers and managers with the skills and knowledge to achieve food security. Through her lab research to find novel approaches to reduce the harmful aflatoxin fungus in maize, the young scientist hopes to decrease aflatoxin contamination of the food supply in Tanzania, where basic food security needs tend to overshadow other equally important considerations such as food safety, she says.
“I think that Tanzania can definitely benefit from having more female scientists,” Nyamete says. “African woman scientists are confident and capable of making change in society. Empowering us can contribute more effectively and significantly to food security and poverty alleviation.”
Nyamete plans to continue studying toward a Ph.D., specializing in food safety and toxicology. “I want to be a part of the existing race to create a more scientifically advanced tomorrow in Tanzania and I envision this field as a path towards my advancement in that direction.”
To date, the iAGRI project has provided educational funding and research opportunities for 35 Tanzanian Master’s students and 20 Ph.D. students, who then bring their new skills and expertise home to build up Tanzania’s capacity to be food-secure. The project expects to train a total of 120 graduate students in partnership with Tanzanian institutions and six U.S. land grant universities, including Ohio State University, Michigan State University, Virginia Tech, University of Florida, Tuskegee University, and Iowa State University.