Florence Uwamahoro, Rwanda

Last changed: 18 December 2018

I am a PhD Student at SLU under the UR-Sida Bilateral programme.

What are the most important reflections from your doctoral project so far?
Potato and banana are important food and cash crops in Rwanda. Despite their importance, these crops face several constraints including pests and diseases. Potato bacterial wilt and banana xanthomonas wilt are major diseases as they can cause crop losses up to 100%.

• Potato bacterial wilt and banana xanthomonas wilt are widespread in all the studied areas of Rwanda.
• Factors like high altitude, low planting density, avoidance of sharing farm tools, crop rotation and intercropping potatoes were associated with low potato bacterial wilt occurrence. On the contrary, Impala agro ecological zone, intercropping bananas, brewing banana types, dense spacing and indigenous banana cultivars were important factors associated with high banana
xanthomonas wilt incidence and severity.
• There is insufficient knowledge about the detection, spread and management of these diseases among farmers in our study, resulting in improper management practices. These are attributed to limited extension services since the majority of farmers received the information about these diseases from other farmers or their relatives and this shared information are sometimes wrong.

How do you find it being supervised by both UR and SLU scholars? Is there an added value in your opinion?
I really appreciate the supervision I get from both sides and it makes my PhD journey easier. Especially when I have some issues to handle from one end, there is always someone in my supervision team ready to help.

Would you like to share any unexpected experience?
I had about four unexpected experiences along my PhD journey so far, (1) spending about 6 months waiting for greenhouses to start my fieldwork due to financial formalities that were outside of my control, (2) getting to know that the samples I worked on for several months were contaminated and we had to discard the project because we had no time to go back for sampling, (3) having a serious sickness when you have plenty of lab and coursework, and (4) having a baby along this PhD journey. But I believe that when you are determined, nothing can stop you from reaching your goal. I am thankful to my supervisors for their encouragements. For instance, when we heard that our samples were contaminated, I was discouraged but my supervisor said “this is a single piece among several pieces you have to make a thesis”. This was really comforting.

If you can send a message to a prospective SLU PhD student, what would that message be?
I have found mothers, fathers, sisters and an amazing guidance, in my working team and in my department in general and I wish that it was the same for all the departments at SLU, for that reason, I would encourage soon-to-be SLU PhD students that SLU is a friendly environment not only to get knowledge and a degree but also to learn humanity. Everyone here is humble and ready to help in case someone is in need.


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