Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT) and Israel’s eight-year agricultural collaboration on practical internship has had a positivel impact to the country as evidenced by the alumni success highlighted in the media, as well as the willingness by Israel to extend the programme.
This was said by Israel’s Deputy Ambassador to Kenya, Mrs. Dvora Dorsman Yarkoni when she visited JKUAT on Wednesday May 25, 2022, where the Israeli delegation was officially received by Dr. Aggrey Wanyama on behalf of the Academic Division, JKUAT.
“The Israeli Embassy is proud of the JKUAT alumni who have applied the skills learnt despite the challenges encountered due to lack of funds. The Embassy is working towards helping the students with securing financial aid and Agronomy advice by professionals from Israel,” assured Mrs. Dvora.
The visit sought to conduct interviews for the selection of 30 students drawn from the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources (COANRE), who will participate in the eleven-month apprenticeship program at Arava International Centre for Agricultural Training (AICAT) in Israel, scheduled to commence in August 2022.
During discussions with the Israeli delegation, the faculty, led by Acting Principal COANRE Prof. Elijah Ateka, Dean School of Natural Resource and Animal Sciences (SONRAS) Prof. Francis Njonge, and Chairman Land Resource and Planning Management department Dr. Mathew Kigomo, lauded the program and expressed their commitment to its continuation, which is expected to lead to the creation of an Agricultural Incubation and Acceleration Centre.
Dr. Joan Mutua, Acting Chief Corporate Communications Officer JKUAT, added that media coverage of JKUAT-AICAT alumni such as Lucy Wangari, popularly known as “Dr. Onion,” had significantly boosted JKUAT’s reputation as a leader in the Agricultural field, a feat that the institution was proud of and was committed to publicizing more of these achievements.
In her presentation, the Director AICAT, Mrs. Hanni Arnon, gave an overview of the internship and credited her institution with the ability to train students from Asia and Africa given its ability to produce food despite the arid conditions with rainfall as low as 30 milimetres in a “good year”.
Based on the premise that Agriculture, done right, is the best means the world has today to simultaneously tackle food security, poverty and environmental degradation, the students will learn various subjects. These include Ecology and climate change, food security challenges, sustainable Agriculture, modern agricultural standards, permaculture and ecological design.
In addition, the students will focus on Agribusiness entrepreneurship which encompasses interpersonal and management skills on implementing change, financial analysis, marketing, writing agriculture business plans, gender equity and sexual harassment, which are instrumental for the students as they prepare to embark on an entrepreneurship journey or manage organizations.
The programme employs a quadratic approach: excursions to farms and historical sites, class sessions, salaried fieldwork and a research project which culminates to a graduation ceremony at the end of the internship.
One of the beneficiaries of the internship, Sharon Cherotich, delighted the audience with her invaluable lessons stating that it was important for one to be mentally prepared for the experience as it is not for the faint of heart (read lazy), and significantly restructures one’s worldview.
“Every class was a unique experience that required intense and critical thinking. I would advise those who get this opportunity to unite and work as a group because it is easier to implement ideas. Also, have a plan for the money that you will earn,” advised Ms. Cherotich.
Mr. Laban Mwai, a representative of MASHAV, an Agency for International Development Cooperation in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Israel assured the students that the programme has held talks with several financial institutions to create products that will enable the students, secure capital to set up their desired Agribusiness when they return to Kenya
The Israeli internship programme started in 2014, when Agrostudies International Center for Agriculture approached JKUAT, based on her exemplary Agricultural profile through the MASHAV programme in Kenya.