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Cultivating Persistence and Hope in Uganda

By Catherine Rutan, 2018 MIAP-Noble Fellow

Posted Aug. 27, 2018

Have you ever been excited about a project and put so much work into it just to have no one else even acknowledge the project’s existence? It can make you question what you’re doing and even make you lose hope. The more that I’ve learned about the international agriculture industry, the more I’ve found this idea to be true for so many. However, this week I was reminded about the excitement and hope in the industry that should never be lost.

Nicholas, Disika, Ryan, and Catherine standing in front of the new buildingRyan, Disika, Nicholas and me in front of the new building.

Meet Nicholas and Disika: Senior agriculture students at Gulu University who are ready to change the world as the leaders of Ugandan agriculture. This week they reminded me what it means to be excited and hopeful about agriculture even when you know some of the harsh realities of life will come along the way.

Nicholas, Disika, Ryan, and Catherine discuss the projectDiscussing what the potential partnership might look like.

Nicholas reached out to Field of Hope with the idea of forming a partnership. He gave us a tour of the university and could not have been more excited to share the student-led projects that he and his classmates have been working on. Some of those projects included learning to run a poultry house with about 400 chickens, starting more than 1,000 seedlings of coffee plants and researching field crop spacing and pest management.

Our group looks at the water pump projectThe agriculture engineering professor shows off some of his students’ projects, including an improved water pump.

Nicholas’ excitement was not due to a lack of knowing the realities, though. He reached out to 20 organizations about starting a partnership. Three replied, and Field of Hope is the only one that gave any positive feedback. His excitement has remained and even grown throughout his time at university because he realizes the importance of agriculture and its potential to help Uganda grow and thrive.

Nicholas and Disika giving Ryan and Catherine a tourNicholas and Disika give us a tour of the applied agriculture student projects.

Seeing the fire that Nicholas and Disika have for Ugandan agriculture reminded me of this verse from Romans: “Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.” This chapter talks about how our bodies should be offered to God as a living sacrifice and that all should be done to glorify him.

Citrus GroveA citrus grove run entirely by students.

The attitude that you adopt not only affects how you work but also how other see the job you are doing. Nicholas and Disika may have not been noticed by 19 organizations, but it was because of their excitement and hopefulness that they caught Field of Hope’s eye. Now there is potential for a partnership with those gentlemen and for other upcoming future agriculturists.

About the Author

Catherine Rutan is a 2018 MIAP-Noble Fellow serving in agricultural development roles in Uganda. Rutan is from Spring, Texas, and is a student in the Master of International Agriculture Program at Oklahoma State University, where she focuses on international development. This fellowship is sponsored in part by the Noble Research Institute.

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