Future Leaders of Africa Series: Nigel Chakawa -International Association of Students in Agriculture and Related Sciences (IAAS) President and Regional CoordinatorNigel (far left) assists with the IAAS Indonesia chapter horticulture project
Agriculture forms the life blood of the majority of economies across Africa with the crops grown and their by- products used for consumption and as key ingredients in the manufacture of many well- loved goods such as coffee, chocolate, crisps, a variety of processed foods and in some instances textiles. Farming is the primary source of food and income for many African households and provides up to 60 percent of all jobs on the continent (Foresight Africa 2016). However, despite this, attracting youth to the discipline has been challenging due to many misconceptions held about the nature of the discipline and the opportunities for career development that are available.
A group of highly passionate and driven students at Africa University through the AU chapter of the IAAS (International Association of Students in Agriculture and Related Sciences) is seeking to change this. IAAS is an international organization that has been in existence since 1957 and to date has a presence in over 60 countries worldwide. The AU IAAS chapter was founded by AU alumna Anne- Marie Dzinoreva (“15 and “18) who upon returning from the USA after an exchange programme organized by the university’s Department of Agriculture that brought her into contact with the IAAS, decided to establish a chapter at her beloved university so as to share her experiences and open the doors for other students to benefit from the opportunities that being a member of such an association held.
True to the calibre of leadership that is instilled in Africa University’s graduates, Anne- Marie mentored the current AU IAAS executive committee to continue her legacy and dream of enriching the lives of her fellow students, larger community and continent through the promotion of Agriculture amongst the youth of Africa. Nigel Chakawa who is the current AU Chapter president and Regional Coordinator of IAAS has lived up to the high expectations set.
He recently represented the continent as the first African IAAS representative to undergo training in Indonesia and is looking forward to leading the AU chapter as it participates in a conference set for Benin in December this year that is aimed at bringing together youth from around the globe to deliberate and set a course towards the realization of the Green World Resolution which is focused on greening the planet trough the techniques that can be adopted in agriculture that can mitigate the impacts of climate change.
Nigel credits being an active member of the AU IAAS for granting him the exposure that he has enjoyed, travelling to such exotic locations as Mexico, Kenya and Indonesia where he was able to exchange ideas and interact with other youth from those countries learning of the innovative and cutting edge projects that they are working on to ensure food security in their respective countries. He said of his time in the AU IAAS leadership,
“The most important part of my leadership experience has been to relate and making as many connections as possible that have allowed me to expand our club network and increase the connectivity of Africa University’s students to the world. I am able to think outside the box and to see broader opportunities. I am a proud ambassador of Africa University and wherever I go in the world I make sure to speak highly of the institution that continues to mould me into the leader that I am today and shall become tomorrow.”
Offering advice to other students interested in joining the IAAS, Nigel went on to say,
“I encourage every student to participate regardless of the academic discipline you are currently enrolled into and be a part of IAAS. This is a big organization that opens numerous doors. Scholarships, mentorships and further study opportunities are available and it is great for career development. Africa University has shown us immeasurable support and I am sure that this same support will continue and see us flourish beyond where we are now at 22 active members on the campus.”
IAAS is the biggest student organization in the field of agriculture and related sciences worldwide. IAAS was founded in 1957 and started with only 8 member countries. It has grown into the organization it is today with over 40 member countries and about 10.000 students as members.
Nigel intends to make Africa University the epicentre of AU IAAS activities with a number of projects lined up that will make a lasting impact on the university community and beyond.
About The Future Leaders of Africa Series- This is a news feature that highlights student leaders and young alumni from Africa University who are making a difference within their communities and are taking the initiative to bring innovation, education and inspiration to the continent.