Grounded in science
Where does a young man who grew up farming in Uganda go to learn about soil? Ames, Iowa – of course.
“Iowa State has a huge impact on the agriculture sector in the U.S. – that piqued my interest,” says Francis Akitwine, a graduate student in soil science. “When I learned about the Borel Global Fellows Program, I applied before I even finished my undergraduate degree.”
Francis became acquainted with the university while working as an intern with the Iowa State University Center for Sustainable Rural Livelihoods, established in Uganda in 2003 thanks to donor support. The center works with Kamuli District residents to discover and implement sustainable solutions to meeting the community’s most urgent needs, starting with food security.
Donors to the Forever True, For Iowa State campaign created the fellowship that funds students from Makerere University in Uganda to pursue graduate studies at Iowa State.
Programs like these provide valuable experiences for students while enabling Iowa State to lead the fight against global food insecurity. For Francis, the fellowship enables him to advance from farming for his family to promoting food and nutrition security across his home continent.
“With a degree in soil science, I want to educate farmers on how to best use soils and agronomy to maximize production on their limited land – not just in my country, but throughout sub-Saharan Africa,” Francis says.
His research is based in Kamuli District, where 75 percent of the GDP comes from agriculture. Francis is developing a test that can assess the status of certain soils and how to produce the greatest yields from them.
“To the donors who made this possible, I say thank you so much. You’ve given me the opportunity to help my people become food and nutrition secure,” Francis says.