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Me and Agriculture – Our Story


Very often, I am questioned about “Why have you chosen agriculture when you could have done something more interesting and get a stable job?”. When I think about it, the only the answer I can get is that I have a passion for it. I have no idea how it happened, but there are many factors that have contributed to it.

I still remember the day when I decided to enrol for an agriculture course at the University of Mauritius… There was no specific reason for this decision, I just wanted to do something different because I was not happy with what I was doing. I was a very confused student in high school and did not like what I was studying (chemistry and physics at that time). In my mind I just knew that I was going to do something that will keep me close to nature and even if does not work, I should at least try it. My parents encouraged me to go forward with it, but there were a lot (well, more than a lot) of people who were telling me not to study agriculture because there are no job prospects and graduates in agriculture are still looking for jobs. Fortunately, I did not listen to anyone and did what I wanted.

Well, my first days at the Faculty of Agriculture were really cool. This faculty is the smallest one in the university and is like a family where all students know each other. We used to hang out together and then came the part when we had to work at the university farm for practicals. Like me, there were several friends who had never cultivated the land or even held a hoe in their hands. We all had a small plot (5m by 10m), where we had to cultivate crops (beans, cucumber, eggplant, coriander, carrot). From land preparation to harvesting, we had to do all. Not to mention how tiring it was to till the soil, demarcate the plot, dig furrows, and weeding! Everyday we used to go to the farm before our classes (usually at 07:30 to 08:00) to irrigate the crops and Saturdays were kept for weeding after classes. We used to complain a lot (I even cried one day when it was so hard to work in the sun), but when the day for harvest came, the satisfaction that we get cannot be described. Simply awesome feeling!

Similarly, everyday was a new adventure. All the practicals (related to crop&livestock production, pest and disease management, biotechnology, food science, agricultural engineering, agricultural extension etc)  that we did were very interesting and there were site visits as well during which we were learning a lot. Gradually I started to like this new environment and I was also doing well in my studies. 

After my first year at university, I was on training in Agricultural Extension at the Agricultural Research and Extension Unit (AREU). This internship was very beneficial for me. I was assisting extension officers in the field and office and met many planters and breeders. By the end of the 2 months’ training, I just knew that I love field work and started to look at agriculture in a different perspective. When I did not know about something, I was probing and searched what it is about. This curiosity made me start to use social media a lot.

When University resumed, I started volunteering in the Agricultural Society in organising the World Food Day and other events on campus, through which I was getting in touch with almost all students at the faculty, lecturers and agricultural organisations as well. After this experience I joined AIESEC, which is the best part where I got the opportunity to lead teams and work on social issues other than agriculture. This experience has helped me develop my leadership &  management skills and take initiatives.

With this new self-confidence, I started to grab all opportunities that I came across through social media and tried to contribute by sharing my experience in agriculture. I found about the ARDYIS essay contest by CTA on the MAISNET Blog and wrote an essay on Agriculture and ICTs in Mauritius. To my biggest surprise, I was selected as one of the best participants in the East Africa region and was trained on web 2.0 for development by CTA in Accra, Ghana (March 2011). After this training, I was a fan of web 2.0 tools and started to share information on agriculture on my profile on social media networks and started to blog about agriculture. Through these initiatives, I got other awesome opportunities in agriculture: Attending the Regional Dialogue of FANRPAN in Swaziland (September 2011) and being appointed as consultant for a case study on agriculture and youth policies in Mauritius; my selection as Agricultural Innovation Facilitator and training by PAEPARD in Uganda (November 2011).

My curiosity about agriculture made me discover youth leadership and ICTs and today my life is  revolving around these. Agriculture was my starting point, but without web 2.0 tools and leadership skills, I would not have been able to grab opportunities, take risks and contribute in sustainable development. I work , I volunteer, I blog, I network with people over the world, I share information on agriculture and encourage the use of ICTs in agriculture. I love what I do, and highly encourage youths to do things which they are passionate about. We do not have to follow a pattern and do things which look cool but in fact are not. Do things which look crazy and different, always try something new and see what you are passionate about, because when you have found it, the rest will just follow! 

The video below is one that inspires me a lot. It is about passion and I hope you like it as much as I do!

About Nawsheen Hosenally

Nawsheen Hosenally, a national of the Republic of Mauritius, has over 6 years of experience in the agricultural sector, specifically focusing on the engagement of youth in agriculture through the use of ICTs. Currently, Nawsheen is the co-Founder of Agribusiness TV, a web TV that features success stories of young agricultural entrepreneurs in Africa. Nawsheen holds a Bachelor’s degree in Agricultural Extension from the University of Mauritius, and a Master’s degree in Management and Information Systems from the University of Manchester.

12 comments on “Me and Agriculture – Our Story

  1. Same sentiments here Nawsheen.People still don’t believe why am in to agribusiness and jobs are rare.Yeah its more of passion and not thinking in a one way manner.You know that our lives ought to be dictated in a specific school of thought where agriculture and all its relations are drab andpathetic.Its a dream that will see fruition one day if we stay put on our dreams and goals.Lets keep on doing it .

  2. Hi nwsheen,i’m also in a dilemma about what course to take up a the university.I’m interested also in doing agriculture but when i think about the job prospect in mauritius i’m reluctunt.I would have like it if you could help me in doing a choice.i have done Maths,Chemistry,Biology can you suggest me some couse that can assure me to have a job after?

    Naabilah

  3. Hello Naabilah. To be honest, graduates in all field of studies do have problems to get a job after university and there is no specific course as such that will guarantee a job after your studies. I believe that in order to choose your field of study, it’s preferable to take something that you want to do (which can be anything) instead of looking for a course that will guarantee a job. If you like doing something, you’ll definitely find a way out. My case was different in the sense that I had no idea about what to do after my studies and I just took a chance with agriculture as I was already a nature lover and wanted to do something different. To get a job in the agricultural sector depends on many factors (some graduates got a job as soon as they finished their course while some are still in search for jobs for years). Agriculture is a beautiful subject, but it does not always guarantee a job in the formal sector. But if you are interested in entrepreneurship (like having your own business in the field of agriculture), you can think about it. Coming to your question about suggesting you some courses, again it depends on what is your objective and what you want to do in the future.

  4. Thanks to reply me.I was just looking for some motivation and honestly i really like what you are doing.I will consider what you have said when choosing the course.Thanks once again.

    Naabilah

    1. My pleasure Raymond. I believe there are many opportunities along the Agriculture value-chain. Agriculture is not limited just at production level in the farm, it’s much more than we think.

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