I first read about Rachael’s story on Twitter, as the graduate who checked in from Israel with grand ideas for dry Turkana. The post which I finally found here made more rounds on almost all social media platforms. When I got a chance to read it again on LinkedIn, I contacted her for an interview to which she was positive. Here is our interview about Rachael’s STEM journey:
Thank you for joining us, Rachael!
The pleasure is all mine!
Kindly tell us your full name:
My name is Rachael Ngina.
What do you do currently?
I am undertaking an agricultural training at School House Farm in the USA.
Please take us through your life journey
I am a 25 year old Kenyan Citizen born and raised in Machakos county. I pursued my BSc. Agribusiness management at Egerton University and also did a diploma in General Agriculture and Technology at Arava International Centre or Agriculture Training-Israel
While in my 3rd year at Egerton, I got an opportunity to work at Nyamarura Dairy farmers Cooperative Society, Nyandarua County, where I was allocated a dairy and vegetable farmer for two months. My work entailed cow-milking three times a day, maintenance of the overall hygiene of the cow shield, feeding the cows and planting of Oats, Maize, and Millet, which are needed for Silage making. I also did nursery establishments and planting of vegetables such as onions, spinach, kales, sunflower, carrots and potatoes. I was also responsible for planting of animal feeds such as Lucerne, desmodium, Napier grass and Oat. I got a chance to work in the milk cooling machine where I checked the quality and quantity of milk brought by the farmers.
In 2018- 2019, I got an amazing opportunity to travel to Israel for an 11 months internship. Here I worked at Kibbutz Eilot-Israel dealing with fruits such as dates, mangoes, grapes, and pomelo, along side vegetables such as onions, garlic, pumpkins, green pepper and sweet corn. Apart from the agricultural skills gained, I was also exposed to working for long hours in the farm and good time management. I realised my potential of being able to work under very high temperatures 49°C, and also low temperatures 10°C, something that I had never experienced in my home country. I was also able to work and experience cultural exchange with people from 7 different countries.
Upon my return to Kenya, I volunteered at Furrows In the Desert-Turkana Kenya where I was able to put into practice what I had learned in Israel. I trained local farmers about drip irrigation, planting of vegetables such as onions, cucumbers, squash, green peppers, kales, spinach, eggplant, and tomatoes; cereals such as maize, sorghum, green grams, and soya; fruits such as dates, watermelons, sweet melons and pawpaws.
I also engaged myself in extensive field work where I would visit the already existing farmers and give them agronomical consultancy services on pest control, better farming skills and also rectify their mistakes like poor spacing of crops, Transplanting of vegetables etc. With the savings that I got in Israel, I invested in 1/4 acre piece of land, where I am developing a farm and growing onions, spinach and kales.
I can declare myself as an individual who is passionate about agriculture, who aspires to see my community and Kenya at large a food secured region.
What has been your biggest challenge so far?
My biggest challenge was growing up in very humble background! My mother struggled a lot to even provide for us the basic needs. However two ladies came through for me and sponsored my education.
What are you most proud of to-date?
My journey in agriculture and contributions to the marginalized Turkana community in Kenya has been published on Daily Nation Newspaper, The Standard and also Saturday Magazine and most recently, was involved in a televised morning breakfast interview show on KTN news channel.
What do you do during your free time?
I enjoy hanging out with my friends, adventure and listening to music.
What are your future steps?
My goal and interest is to contribute to the development of agriculture in Kenya with a special focus on marginalized developing communities.
Any words of encouragement to the youth out there?
Your current home situations does not define your future! it’s okay to have a grass thatched house, sleep hungry, wear torn clothes, etc. All these don’t define who you are! Get up and work hard for a brighter future. For those who are done with university, I encourage you to not just sit down and wait for jobs to find you in the house. Get up and do something out there even if it’s volunteering. Let the job find you doing something.
Thank you for your time, Rachael! It was a pleasure to learn from you.