On a mission to help Botswana's farmers
Mitchel Dintwa is a long, long way from home and her husband in Botswana.
But the Agribusiness and Marketing Officer is on a mission.
She is intent on making a difference and helping her people become more effective and commercially astute farmers.
Four out of every five people in the landlocked African nation live off the land. But its subsistence farming only produces enough food for about half the country's population. Most farmers rely on handouts from family members working in the city to make ends meet.
With improved agriculture considered a key to increased economic growth, Mitchel has travelled half way around the world to enrol in a two-year Master in Global Food and Agricultural Business course at the University of Adelaide.
She wants to further extend her specialist skills and do her bit to help Botswana's farmers move towards profit- oriented agriculture.
"The government has reduced its external professional development process following the global recession, so training is limited to local institutions which is also in small numbers," says Mitchel. "Therefore the AusAID Australian Awards Scholarships came at the right time. I competed and was successful.
"The Masters in Global Food and Agricultural Business is just what I was looking for because it's all about global food and international trade and covers most of the areas that I'm interested in."
Mitchel graduated with a Bachelor in Agriculture from the Cape Peninsula University of Technology in South Africa and for the past seven years has been employed by the Ministry of Agriculture, under the Department of Agricultural Business Promotion.
Based in Ramotswa, a village South East of the capital Gaborone, she has been training local farmers in areas of post harvest, such as packaging, compliance to quality standards and promoting their products. Much of her work involves on-farm training and demonstrations.
Her husband, Emmanuel Molemogi, works for the same ministry as an agricultural research assistant.
Mitchel admits she knew little about Australia before arriving in Adelaide but has soon settled into the local way of life.
"I've been very impressed with the University of Adelaide because it has all the services you need on campus, including banking and health facilities, and the transport system is really convenient," she says.
Mitchel is sharing a house in Myrtle Bank with another student from Botswana, Oaitse Ramorula, who is studying international business.
Both have been struck by the friendliness of the people here - and their honesty.
"Twice I've lost my purse - once in a café in Rundle Arcade and another time I dropped it outside my house - and both times I've had it returned," said Mitchel.
Once she has finished her studies in Adelaide Mitchel plans to go back to her previous position but with more knowledge and skills to support local farmers.
"I will retain the same position but I'm hoping this will give me opportunities to move into other ranks," she said. "Agriculture is so important and is needed for our economy to help us for the future, as proven in the developed world."