Best of iAGRI

April 28, 2014  •  Leave a Comment

     My time with the Innovative Agricultural Research Institute (iAGRI) in Tanzania has drawn to a close.  iAGRI is a USAID/Feed the Future-funded capacity building initiative that works to make Tanzania more food secure by training and funding advanced degree scholarships for Tanzanian agricultural professionals and bright student researchers.  Aside from receiving professional training throughout their experience, accepted scholars are sent to study abroad at one of six leading consortium universities in the United States, led by Ohio State University, as well as agricultural universities throughout Africa, India and China.  

     From February 3rd through April 25th, I served as iAGRI's writer and photographer, living at Sokoine University of Agriculture in Morogoro, Tanzania and traveling around the country to meet with, interview and write personal stories of each scholar's iAGRI experience.  With 120 total scholars to be funded in iAGRI's initial five years, I could only cover a fraction of them in my time there, but did what I could, often working long days and through most weekends to get a visual, narrative-based website up and running, thereby building a foundation that future iAGRI writer/photographers can add to.

     I'm extremely proud to have had the opportunity to contribute to such a worthwhile development project and to have gotten to work with the extremely dedicated Tanzanian and American staff that keep iAGRI running.  The brilliant and ambitious students I covered became friends and I appreciate them being gracious enough for me to document their research as it was taking place in the villages throughout Tanzania.  It's been a privilege to have had been able to get my feet wet with aid and development work through iAGRI and I'm looking forward to more such opportunities in the future.

     Below are select images from a few of my favorite stories that I wrote and documented during my time in Tanzania.  Please be sure to click on the links below each image in order to visit the iAGRI story-telling website so that you can see more images and read about what exceptional students the iAGRI scholarship recipients are.

Two mothers assist Glory by transferring some of the cooked uji from the kettle to a smaller serving container. Some of the mothers traveled from area villages by bicycle to be part of Glory's research. Following the feeding and education session, they got back on their bikes to ride home. Michigan State's Glory Mhalu took me to a village in central Tanzania to document her nutrition intervention research, where she taught young mothers how to make a nutrient-enhanced form of traditional porridge so that instances of malnutrition can be reduced.  You can read about Glory's story here.

Ntirankiza Misibo, an iAGRI-sponsored Sokoine University master's scholar in agricultural education and extension, conducts a survey with a farm family outside of their home in the village of Kimamba, central Tanzania. Ntirankiza (right), surveys a woman about her smallholder farming practices. Ntirankiza Misibo is a master's scholar at Sokoine University whose research intends to improve agricultural extension work so that smallholder farmers can improve their productivity and reduce post-harvest losses.  Read about Ntirankiza's research here.

Chacha inspects a handful of maize that a farmer stored with traditional bags. The kernels are coated in a fungi that accumulates when grains are stored in traditional containers such as jut bags. A participating smallholder farmer show Chacha (left), a sample of her stored maize, while he collects responses to his research survey. Chacha Nyangi, also of Sokoine University is conducting research that investigates the effectiveness of improved grain storage bags so that farmers can reduce post-harvest losses due to pest infestation as well as reduce levels of potentially harmful mycotoxins that are often present when grains are stored by traditional means.  Read Chacha's story here.

Neema Shosho (right), an iAGRI-sponsored scholar from Tuskegee University, takes a blood sample from a young boy while conducting nutrition intervention education as part of her master's research in the village of Peapea in Tanzania's Kilosa district. An overwhelmed participant cries as Neema pricks her finger to take a blood sample. Neema (middle) and a research volunteer take the height measurement of a child. Neema Shosho of Tuskegee University conducts research to educate young Tanzanian mothers on improved methods of complementary feeding practices.  Neema utilizes alternative education approaches such as role playing and traditional African dance to enhance the effectiveness of her nutrition intervention.  Neema's story can been be read in full here.


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