For more than three decades, I have advocated for the African woman smallholder farmer.
The farmers of the future may not be small, and are not necessarily only women. That is why starting early to mentor and empower young people with knowledge is important: they will be better prepared to take on food production and the whole food value chain in a different way, with the idea of making it a business, a money making venture.
I trained in food and nutritional sciences overseas at Washington State University (Pullman) in the U.S.A. and at the University of Nairobi, Kenya. Whenever I was asked what I would do upon getting back to Kenya, I would respond “I want to work globally for the United Nations to try and rid the world of child hunger and malnutrition.” As I grew up, I saw children in my village with protruding tummies. This was not a good sight at all. Moreover, the mothers of such children would be shunned by the community. We did not have such a child in my household. I went back to Kenya with a Master’s degree in Food and Nutrition. Then for my Ph.D. at the University of Nairobi, I decided to work on weaning foods and associated challenges. My research comprised of both laboratory work and field research. After what I saw in the field, kwashiorkor and marasmic children, I decided not to go back to the laboratory. Most of our problems that resulted in malnutrition began in the field. As I spent more time in the field, I could see the burdens facing women when it came to child rearing and taking care of their homes, especially in the absence of their husbands, who might be working away from their homes and farms.