MEET RUFARO

The Mastercard Foundation - EARTH University Fellowship Program

Rufaro Chokera

Country: Zimbabwe
Track: Employment
Position: Climate Smart Agriculture Guide Programme Fellow
Host company/organization: CAMFED Zimbabwe
About position: Rufaro is working to expand CAMFED Zimbabwe’s Agricultural Guide Program. She helps boost the productivity and livelihoods of ‘forgotten’ women farmers, and has already trained 160 women agripreneurs.

Rufaro Chokera comes from a rural area of Zimbabwe, the only daughter in her family. From a young age, she dreamed of making a name for herself as a leader.

For Rufaro, coming to EARTH was the opportunity of a lifetime because of her long-standing dream to learn about entrepreneurship. “Being an entrepreneur is one of the most demanding skills needed in Africa for the young generation. Learning at EARTH University has cultivated my passion for agriculture, and I have participated in projects to help local farmers in designing the best sustainable practices in their farms, giving added value to their products in order to commercialize them.” EARTH has changed Rufaro’s way of thinking. “I try to carry all the values that EARTH taught me. I always try to remember work ethics, respect, punctuality, accepting other people as they are, being adaptable. EARTH taught me to get out of my comfort zone, and I now have the power to achieve any goal.”

Rufaro did her internship at the University of Florida, working at the Citrus Research and Education Centre. She decided on this internship because she loves learning about soil, fertility, and nutrient management. “This internship was a milestone towards my future career plans. In my country, the soil is degraded, and farmers are not capable of producing. They need to learn about fertilizers to treat citrus diseases. As an intern, I had the opportunity to work hand-in-hand with great researchers who are tackling the citrus greening disease problem through irrigation and fertilization schemes. It was a golden chance to follow my passion, which is soil management.”

Rufaro completed her graduation project called, Effects of Deposited Bovine Urine, Nitrogen Fertilizers and Nitrification Inhibitors on Nitrate Leaching in a Grazed Pasture System of Humid Tropics. “I chose this project because I hope to help my community with nutrient management and other sustainable methods of developing fertilizers for their farms, including pellets made from animal waste.”

Rufaro wants to go back to Zimbabwe to start helping her community.

My goals are to help women and girls, particularly with economic empowerment. – Rufaro

She aims to help girls in difficult situations and motivate them to support themselves financially, help them finish studying, and support the growth of women-owned small businesses. “I am also working on a project meant to feed 25 families in my community. I want to help them establish a community garden with solar-powered water. Lack of enough clean water due to recurring droughts has limited agricultural activities as well as sanitation protocols in my community. With all the skills I have learned at EARTH, I believe that this project will be a reality once I graduate.”
Rufaro was selected to participate in the Fellowship Program, a novel initiative that has been created in partnership between the Mastercard Foundation and EARTH University to facilitate recent African graduates’ transition from university to launch purposeful careers in the agriculture and agribusiness sectors in their countries of origin. As a Fellow, she will gain professional experience with CAMFED Zimbabwe, working in outreach and developing professional relationships and networks with stakeholders.

To her donors at the Mastercard Foundation, she would like to say, “I have a lot that I have managed to accomplish through your generosity. Summing up, I would just like to thank you for making my dreams come true. This is a baton that you passed to me and I believe that I will be able to help my community and my country at large through this experience. I pray that you keep extending your hands, reaching out to other youths for them to also realize their potential.”

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