The Global Programs Department in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences along with Gail Nonnecke and Ajay Nair faculty in Horticulture are currently hosting two visiting scholars from Makerere University (MAK) in Uganda. Bridget Namuwonge is a visiting intern originally from the central part of Uganda visiting Iowa State University (ISU) with an interest in agricultural business and management. Shillah Kwikiiriza is a short-term scholar from the southern part of Uganda with an interest in agriculture.
Bridget and Shillah started their connection with ISU as service learners through the Center for Sustainable Rural Livelihoods ISU- Uganda Program in the Kamuli District of Uganda. The service learning program brings together undergraduate students from ISU and MAK for six weeks of intercultural immersion. During the service learning program Bridget and Shillah were able to experience the diversity of agriculture with hands-on experiences in all areas of agriculture by conducting farm visits, helping grow and maintain school gardens as outdoor learning laboratories and food plots for the school lunch program and being able to interact with U.S. citizens from different cultures and parts of the world. Both Bridget and Shillah are more passionate about agriculture because of their time in the service learning program.
During their time at ISU, both Bridget and Shillah have been working with several faculty and staff on campus to gain a better understanding of agriculture and the technology used by farmers in Iowa. Bridget and Shillah have had the opportunity to do hands-on learning at many of the ISU research and demonstration farms. They are active in horticultural research plots using season extension through high tunnels, integrated pest management tools, and learning about grain crops with higher yields and enhanced quality compared to other world systems. They also had the opportunity to work with students in Globe 211, Agronomy 342 and Horticulture 376 to learn about different soil types and soil EC readings. This portion of the visit was beneficial to the visiting interns, as well as the students in the classes, because it had an added awareness to everyone’s knowledge on global food issues and sustainable agriculture for the developing world, as well as around the globe, through crop production in different soils and different soil salinity requirements. While visiting ISU, both Bridget and Shillah were most shocked by the technology used by the average farmers and the size of fields farmed, since most of the land of small-scale farmers in Uganda is on average 1-1.5 acres per farmer.
When she returns to Uganda, Bridget is looking forward to completing her undergraduate degree in Agricultural Business and Management in January 2018 and then looks to continue her education in graduate school. She plans to write and publish articles and outreach publications on food security that can help local farmers better sustain food demands. Upon her return, Shillah looks to start graduate school and learn more about food safety and security to help improve grain crops and prevent diseases in her local community. Shillah also plans to start a vegetable production with better irrigation and tiling methods, both initiatives she learned while at ISU.
Both Bridget and Shillah are appreciative of the hospitality that they have received from faculty, staff and students while on Iowa State’s campus and in the State of Iowa. They are also very grateful for the connection that Iowa State University has with Makerere University and the ISU-Uganda Program. Both have said that they have witnessed first-hand the positive effects the program has on the people of the Kamuli District. Without this partnership, both state they would not have had an opportunity to visit Iowa State and the partnership and service learning have helped many students grow on a personal and professional level. Bridget and Shillah will be returning to Uganda on October 31, 2017.