Diane Mumararungu is a second-year student specialising in conservation agriculture at the Rwanda Institute for Conservation Agriculture. The primary areas of focus are farming practices, mechanisation and irrigation techniques to improve agriculture productivity as a future farmer. All she wants to do, is to use her skills to help others.
Since 2019, Mumararungu has been deeply involved in community service that aims to improve local farming methods and participates in initiatives to help empower women in farming.
“I spoke to people in agriculture for career guidance and I realised that this was a growing field with great opportunities,” says Mumararungu, whose love for agriculture has driven her to go beyond lecture walls.
Striving for solutions
“I chose agriculture because you can feed people and eliminate hunger. Everyday, people need someone to put food on the table,” she says with pride. “Being a solution maker is what I love.”
She calls herself an agricultural influencer, a person who takes agriculture to the world and makes use of social media to be a helping hand. Simply put, it takes only a post on Twitter to share information on a new farming gadget or technique, and ultimately reach more people. Her main purpose, she explains, is to connect a farmer to a buyer such as an agri-dealer. Her business is based on the empowerment of women through agriculture.
The 22-year-old established her business so that women develop financial independence in the community. “It is mostly women who are farming so I would like them to be self-reliant and to build themselves up financially, starting with small capital and growing big,” she explains.
Beyond just connecting them with suitable buyers, she educates women farmers about advanced technologies that assist with providing food for their families. “It is a success! Someone will reach out through Twitter and we will share knowledge and tactics and even link them to a buyer,” she explains. “I believe this is a journey that I need to stay on.”
Mumararungu, who is also involved in student affairs at her institute, is finishing her studies next year. With a smile, she says once she’s finished her studies, she aims to fully commit to her passion. The first mission is to create more contracts for farmers with good markets and develop relevant technology products.
She is also committed to helping other students full time, as she is the vice president of the Student Representative Council at the Institute. This, she says, is a role full of pressure and requires much needed focus. “I enjoy it,” she says, emphasising the importance of incorporating theoretical knowledge with practicals.
With only a single trip to a farm nearby, the young student would venture out and meet local farmers. She’s formed close friendships with some of them while exploring different avenues of agriculture. One is mechanisation and discovering how improved technology can help small scale farmers increase productivity by having easier and faster methods of farming.
Another means of helping community farmers is by showing them how to find pests that attack the crop. She also teaches farmers techniques that she learned from school. “Sometimes they think I am crazy, but I have discovered that it works by giving them a prototype and then demonstrating it to them.”
Broadening her horizons
Community visitations and conversations with local farmers do not only help broaden her own knowledge of the field, but the youngster has discovered a connection between indigenous knowledge and the science behind farming.
“I try to understand people in the community to see what is applied. Agriculture increases [with] quantity and the use of tractors helps with that,” she says.
In future, Mumararungu hopes to become a well-established entrepreneur and influencer who has achieved her goal of inspiring and influencing the youth to join agriculture. “We need new blood and new minds for more and better production,” she says.