Catching young scholars early

Wednesday June 9 2010


To show appreciation for support she received from her village while growing up, a scientist is now trying to share knowledge she has acquired with her village folk.

Prof Waceke Wanjohi’s main objective is to try and transform her rural home in Molo by imparting knowledge she has gained in the field of agriculture to the peasant farmers so that they can boost their food production and move from peasantry to commercial farming.

The Chair of the Department of Agricultural Science and Technology at Kenyatta University, is encouraging pupils in the local village schools to work hard in their studies.

“Studying in poorly equipped rural schools does not mean that you cannot make it in life,” Prof Wanjohi told class eight pupils from five different primary schools in Turi area of Molo who had gathered at Mianzini Primary School recently.


She is an old girl of the school. She had come along with several other women scholars and scientists to give a career talk to the candidates who are due to sit for their Kenya Certificate of Primary Education.

The talk was basically based on importance of agriculture, which the speakers said should not be seen in a negative way since it is the sector that supports the economy of the country.

It was such an exciting day for the pupils and their parents who had travelled for several kilometres to hear the message that the entire group of the women scholars and scientists had for them.

The scholars were drawn from local universities. Others were researchers from Kenya Research Institute (KARI).

Prof Wanjohi is a fellow of the African women in Agricultural Research and Development (AWARD).

She has introduced the initiative to the rural women in her village and promised to draw up a programme to teach them more on how to improve their farming.

“I want you to take farming as a business so that you can make money from farming,” this was Prof Wanjohi’s main message to the parents at the school.

The initiative targets women farmers in rural areas who according to Prof Wanjohi are the engine that drives agriculture.

Eager to discover how these women scholars and research scientists managed to rise to their present status, the pupils wanted to know the profile of all the speakers.

“I have come here to encourage you and make it known to you can make it,” she told the gathering, which included local education officers.

The university don cum researcher was born and brought up in Turi area in Molo. Turi, which is part of Mau ecosystem, is one of the most productive areas in the Rift Valley Province.

Several varieties of food crops are grown here. They include Irish potatoes, vegetables and other horticultural crops.

The area also has high potential for dairy farming. Besides keeping dairy cows farmers also rear merino sheep for both mutton and wool. They also grow pyrethrum, which has for years been the people’s main source of income until a few years ago when the sector started collapsing.

Were it not for massive destruction of the Mau ecosystem through logging and clearing of the forest, Turi and other parts of Molo are known to be ever green throughout the year.

Despite the potential the peasant farmers are still poor since majority use traditional methods. Most of them cannot afford certified seeds.