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JKUAT student selected ambassador to the world’s Thought for Food Foundation

leah at an agricultural show
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Leah Wambui (right) addressing a participant who visited JKUAT stand at A.S.K Central Kenya National Show, Nyeri. Photo courtesy.

Leah Wambui Njau, a finalist student at Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT) has become the first student to be selected to the Thought for Food Foundation (TFF), the world’s next-generation innovation engine for food and agriculture.

The student who is pursuing Bachelor of Science degree in Horticulture will be among the 400 (TFF) Ambassadors selected globally to serve for a period of one year ending May 31, 2020.

During the time, the ambassadors are expected to look for innovative agricultural start-ups, register them and get them ready for the 2019 TFF challenge that begins in October 2019.

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The 2019 TFF Challenge focuses on the seemingly forgotten and underutilized crops such as Moringa, Teff or Bambara Groundnut, despite their outstanding nutritional value.

The TFF ambassador programme is an initiative of the Foundation, which works towards finding new solutions to global food and agriculture challenges. The programme is geared towards engaging and empowering the next generation to feed at least 10 billion people by 2050.

Across the globe, the youth are viewed as the future of agriculture, yet very few young people see a future of themselves in agriculture. This has been attributed to many factors including insufficient access to knowledge, information and education.

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Passionate about agriculture and farming in particular, Leah is grateful that the ambassadorship gives her a platform to create awareness and build capacity on matters food security and nutrition.

“The idea that I’ll be part of a noble course of feeding the nation is such a great delight. I love plants and I love working with them. I could do it all my life,” said Leah.

She is however cognizant of the fact that a lot needs to be done to build a more sustainable and inclusive food system that improves livelihoods, replenishes natural resources, sequesters carbon, reduces waste, and enhances health and nutrition.

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Leah believes that the global community she is part of, will be instrumental in catalyzing the creation of new innovative ideas and help launch agricultural startups that can provide solutions for the agricultural challenges we face as a country.

“Being a horticulturist, my greatest desire is and has always been to feed the nation. This has been my everyday mantra and part of the ambassadorship involves empowering young Kenyans about food and agriculture and the opportunities to innovate in this space,” said Leah, a protégé of Prof. Mary Abukutsa, an avid ambassador of food security and nutrition.

She believes that the forgotten and underutilized crops are critical to solving food system challenges and creating more resilient, sustainable and diverse global food systems.

Leah is confident that through the creation of awareness and capacity building initiatives of the program, they will be able to attract more young people to see agriculture as a viable venture. She believes, there are vast opportunities for agricultural enthusiasts who have trained their minds to think through problems and come up with solutions.

“Agriculture has always had an image problem but there’s a place for the next generation to apply clever strategies to counter misconceptions and generate knowledge and solutions to the nation’s food problems,” says Leah.

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At the end of the ambassadorship, Leah trusts she will have deepened her professional experience, expanded her network and boosted her credentials and “that’s a good start in my young career journey,” she states.

Apart from identifying start-ups, Leah with her fellow Kenyan Ambassadors, plan to host several meet-ups and activities geared towards raising awareness of food security and promote sustainable agricultural practices.

Other Kenyans in the programme include Bernadette Ogeto and Prisca Onyango.

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