This article is part of a Q&A series which aims to introduce AgriFoSe2030's team members. Here, for our third chapter, we present Dr. Alice Mweetwa who sits in the AgriFoSe2030 steering group since the beginning of 2021.
Dr. Alice Mutiti Mweetwa is the current Deputy Executive Secretary for Programme Development and Implementation at RUFORUM (the Regional Universities Forum for Capacity Building in Agriculture). Their secretariat is based in Kampala, Uganda. She is also a Senior Lecturer in soil microbiology and soil fertility at the Department of Soil Science, University of Zambia (UNZA).
She has a Bachelor’s degree in Agricultural Sciences and a Master’s degree in Agronomy from UNZA, an additional Master’s degree in Environmental Sciences from Miami University of Ohio, together with a PhD from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University.
What motivated you to be part of the steering group of AgriFoSe2030?
I am honoured to have been nominated to be part of the steering group of AgriFoSe2030, and I am looking forward to work with other very experienced colleagues from across Africa, Asia and Europe. It gives me the opportunity to share my experience and knowledge and thus, contribute to the programme, whilst learning from others.
How do you view the potential impact of AgriFoSe2030?
AgriFoSe2030 could not have been established at a better time! Firstly, the different challenges of the programme, are very much aligned with the 1st, 2nd and 12th Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)- ‘No poverty’, ‘Ending hunger in all its forms’, and ‘Responsible consumption and production’, respectively. This programme has the potential to have a positive impact on the lives of people, especially the smallholder/family farmers who are at the centre of the programme’s projects and who contribute to more than 70% of agricultural production but remain in poverty. More so, this programme addresses the need to consider and care for agro-ecological systems to achieve and maintain food security. With the call from the United Nations to transform food systems, I am convinced of this programme’s relevance and its potential of making a contribution.
What challenges do you believe we have to overcome to sustainably scale-up smallholder agriculture?
I believe that, at the moment, issues concerning digital technologies and their development and adoption within agriculture, remain a challenge. E-agriculture, E-extension, E-commerce- among other E’s- can significantly change the landscape of agricultural systems, and this is the future. Digital technologies cut across the entire agricultural value chain, from the input of supplies, all the way to marketing and consumption.
Caption; Use of drone technologies in rural areas in Malawi. Credit: European Union/ Anouk Delafortrie, Flickr CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
What is your favourite crop and why?
My favourite crop is potato, Solanum tuberosum. Although it is not a crop which provides food security for many African countries, it is great source of carbohydrates, it can be processed into different products which provides added product value, and it is also easily cooked into different kinds of meals and recipes.