Mr Lindani Mchunu graduated with his Master of Science in Agriculture degree after investigating the identification and selection of Tepary bean genotypes for yield and drought tolerance in South Africa that can be used as parental lines of breeding as well as for large-scale production.
The South African Sugarcane Research Institute (SASRI) research intern was always drawn to the agricultural sector as a career choice; choosing to study at UKZN because of its strength in agricultural teaching and research. After financial challenges forced him to take a gap year once he had completed high school at Velangaye High School in Nkandla, Mchunu received financial support that allowed him to enrol at University.
He is passionate about agriculture and hopes to be an example to young people who believe agriculture is limited to farming by demonstrating opportunities. ‘Agriculture plays a significant role in the economic development of our country and I see it not just as a career, but as a business,’ he said.
After witnessing the decline in farming practices in his area, he was motivated to work hard to equip rural people with the knowledge and resources necessary to combat challenges that affect their crop production.
While he found his Master’s studies challenging, he was satisfied with his results, saying that the process taught him that good things do not happen instantaneously, and that maintaining a positive attitude, focus and discipline is essential for success. His Master’s has been a step in his pursuit of knowledge, and his research concerned seeking methods to fight the challenges of drought through alternative and sustainable methods. In the context of climate change, climate variability and population growth, this kind of work is, he believes, important for ensuring food security for South Africa and the world.
He thanked his supervisors, Professor Hussein Shimelis and Dr Alfred Odindo, for their guidance and encouragement throughout his study, and gave credit to his lecturer Dr Lembe Magwaza for teaching him the principles of agricultural research.
Mchunu also thanked his family, particularly his parents, for not giving up on him when he chose to further his studies, and thanked his grandmother for her wise words and prayers. He also thanked the Nazareth Tertiary Student Association for their guidance through prayer. He thanked members of his business brand: Shisan Thosan for their wise words and teachings. He also thanked his university friends, especially the class of 2015, for being there during stressful, happy and hard times.
He plans to learn more about the sugar industry in his current role and expand his knowledge of research practices.
Words: Christine Cuénod