News - September 14, 2015

250th Anne van den Ban Scholarship

Koen Guiking

Leah Nandudu from Uganda is the 250th student to study in Wageningen with an Anne van den Ban Scholarship. ‘As a junior scientist I provided training to farmers. When I complete my masters I will be a senior scientist, which increases the impact I can make.’

It was during her bachelor in Agricultural science and entrepreneurship at the Uganda Christian University that Leah heard about Wageningen University for the first time. Her lecturer in Plant pathology obtained his PhD in Wageningen. At that moment, she didn't think she would ever go out of Uganda for her studies. But at her first job after her studies, at the International Institute for Tropical Agriculture, she encountered another Wageningen alumnus. This person, head of the genomics department Brigitte Uwema, told Leah about the Anne van den Ban Fund. ‘I immediately sent in my application. I think that was in January. In June I received an email with the good news.’ With a little scream, her fists in the air and a big smile on her face Leah shows how she reacted at that moment.

After completing the master in Plant sciences in Wageningen, Leah can return to the agricultural institute in Kampala. ‘I like to help farmers to improve their yield. I was training them about the importance of good seeds and fertilizers. This enabled those farmers - mostly women - to produce more than just enough for their families. They could also sell some products and earn a bit of money.’ She also trained the farmer group that her father belongs to. ‘He was so excited and proud. He told everybody: that is my daughter.’

I like to help farmers to improve their yield

Leah also has the ambition to do her PhD in Wageningen. ‘In my field, this is one of the best universities in the world in my field.’ Obtaining an education here helps her to do what she wants most: informing farmers how they can improve the quality of their seed. ‘It doesn't make sense to stay in the lab the whole day to develop better seeds and new varieties. You also have to make sure that the farmers adopt these seeds.’ She could also see herself working on agricultural policies.

Eight students have come to Wageningen at the start of this academic year with a Anne van den Ban Scholarship. The university has exempt these students from paying tuition fees for two years and the Anne van den Ban Fund pays for the other expenses. Not all students get a full scholarship, in February the fund also provided money to two students that were already close to the end of their studies but would have been unable to complete them without fincial support. The fund, named after the now 87-year-old emeritus professor Information science, started in 1992 by providing funds to talented students from developing countries that wanted to study at Wageningen University. These days, the fund receives way more applications than it can handle, but luckily the number of donors is also growing. The Anne van den Ban Fund now provides about ten scholarships per year.