Meet Mwajuma Mwangu and Veronica Rusagira, two female agronomists who say they are not afraid of rolling up their sleeves to enhance agriculture in the country.
The two agronomists work at the Tanzania division of Norwegian company, Yara, which produces, distributes, and sells nitrogen-based mineral fertilizers and related chemicals.
Speaking to Rising Woman, Mwajuma and Veronica said they were passionate enough to pursue careers in the field. The two are testimony to how the sector can open up to more diverse perspectives and approaches to farming.
The two Yara professionals hope to inspire more young women to pursue careers in agriculture. They believe that women’s contribution is essential in achieving food security and reducing poverty. They want to see more women in leadership positions in the agricultural value chain.
A Sokoine University of Agriculture (SUA) graduate, she joined Yara Tanzania in 2019 after a short stint with another company. She was then overseeing horticulture projects in Iringa region but now manages Yara activities in Dar es Salaam, Coast and Zanzibar.
Her job is to ensure that farmers get good yields and earn a decent income from their crops through best agronomy practices such as use of appropriate fertilizer and other nutrients. “My work is driven by the desire to see farmers succeed. It is a good job. Imagine how thrilling it is assisting farmers and the country become food secure,” she said.
She says it is essential to promote gender equality in agriculture and raise awareness of the diverse career opportunities available to all. This includes programs that target school girls and young women, promoting women’s leadership in agriculture, and challenging gender stereotypes and norms that discourage women.
Veronica is grateful that at Yara, she is getting all the support she needed to excel in work and professionally. Her parents’ resilience nudged her to use her expertise to make a positive impact on people’s lives and contribute to sustainable development.
She tells of her happiness witnessing the incredible success of a local farmer she was supervising earn Sh200 million from his tomatoes harvest. “I was so inspired by the potential of agriculture to transforming the lives of millions of farmers and their communities.”
Also, a graduate of SUA, Mwajuma has always been curious about agriculture.
“My biggest influencer was my uncle. He earned a lot through farming and encouraged me to study agronomy upon seeing my curiosity,” she said.
After working with two coffee companies for eight years, she joined Yara in 2021 and has been overseeing sales and marketing activities in Songwe region.
“At Yara, I have found a conducive environment to bring out the best in agronomy practices that impact thousands of farmers through working closely with the government, farmers and partner organisations.
Mwajuma grew up in a small village where coffee was a significant part of the community’s livelihood. She has pursued a Masters in Coffee Economics and Science.
“My dream is to see young people succeed through agriculture. The potential in Tanzania is huge and working with service providers as Yara can be hugely satisfying.” She says agriculture is vital for sustainable development. She spends time in the field, working alongside farmers, and providing them with customized farming plans and solutions from Yara that are tailored to each farmer’s unique needs.
“More women should be encouraged to pursue careers in agriculture and overcome any gender bias. We must be confident in our abilities and share our ideas. If given an opportunity you must show that you can do it, there is nothing that we can’t do if we put our mind to it,” she says, thanking Yara for allowing her to experiment and become innovative.
Yara Tanzania Managing Director Winstone Odhiambo says the two female agronomists are setting a good example not only for Yara, but for the nation and ultimately the farmers that they seek to empower.
“At Yara, we are happy that they are practically living our mission of responsibly feeding the world and protecting the planet while delivering profitable and responsible solutions for agriculture and the environment,” noted Mr Odhiambo.