Magdalene Nguli, 27, is a Kenyan Master of Science student at the University of Nairobi. She is also one of the young scientists involved in the FoodAfrica programme work package 1. At the moment she is studying crop micronutrients in MTT Jokioinen in Finland.

magda_496Magdalene Nguli is doing research in MTT headquarters in Jokioinen, Finland for altogether two months. Last week she got started on screening micronutrients from food crops. Her samples of maize, bean and potato are collected from Muguga area in Kenya. Another Master of Science student, Abdub Galgallo is conducting research on soil samples from the same area. Building capacity by educating young scientists in the participating countries is one of the key activities in the programme.

Why is it important to study crop micronutrients?

– In Kenya most of the people don’t have the knowledge of the nutrients in the crops. Micronutrients are essential for growth of plants and although they are required in small quantities, inadequate supply of one or more of these results in reduced yields and quality of crop products. Micronutrients are transferred through the food chain to human beings and are important for health, growth and development. Deficiency of these poses a threat to the social-economic development of a nation due to the associated effects which include increased mortality rate, impaired physical and cognitive development and reduced labor productivity. Main focus of my research is to increase yields and the quality of the food. My research will reveal the micronutrient levels in the crops and thus improve food security, Magdalene Nguli explains.

How will the local farmers benefit from your research?

– The farmers will be advised on the micronutrient levels based on my research. Since I’m comparing three different crops, we will be able to tell which crops uptake the nutrients well in that area. Based on that information the farmers will know which crop to farm in their area.

How did you end up in Finland?

– My supervisors Doctor Michael Gatari from the University of Nairobi and Doctor Keith Shepherd from ICRAF got the idea to send me to Finland. I got involved in the FoodAfrica research for development programme through the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) where I conducted research on my thesis on crop micronutrients.