A passion for agriculture has led Germain Intwari of Rwanda to the Panhandle of Nebraska.
He is one of six Rwandan interns studying this summer at the UNL Panhandle Research and Extension Center. Intwari explained Rwanda is located in the tropics and the plants are effected by several disease strains.
“One of the things attacking our agriculture, besides drought is plant diseases,” he said. “So, I say to myself, how can I contribute to my country so we can grow our crops healthy and more beneficial, it’s what’s pushed me to get into plant pathology.”
Intwari is interning with Dr. Robert Harveson, plant pathologist at the UNL extension, where he’s working with a variety of crops in the field and lab.
“He’s got certain projects he’s been assigned, with some greenhouse work,” Harveson said. “He’s working with several sunflower disease, with sugar beets and dry beans some of the bacterial problems.”
Intwari has not only been helping in planting the dry beans, but he’s also studying wheat and the wheat streak mosaic virus.
“There is a bunch of wheat crops here getting a viral disease,” Intwari said. “I find that very interesting as I know have a bigger and broad picture of what viral disease looks in wheat. I’m looking forward to learning more about it.”
Intwari keeps up on Rwanda’s agriculture sector and some of the challenges that it is facing, while in the U.S. He hopes to return and help his country with his knowledge of agriculture.
The College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources (CASNR) at UNL established a scholarship program for students from Rwanda to pursue a Bachelor of Science degree in Integrated Science. It focuses on conservation agriculture, entrepreneurship, leadership, and innovative thinking aligned with areas of need identified by the Rwandan Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Resources.