By Milka Teklom
She is a very smart, astonishing and devoted student. She participates in extracurricular activities, especially in organizations that empower women and fellow students. She just graduated from Hamelmalo College of Agriculture with distinction. She is determined to convey what she learned to farmers in need, beginning with a biological pesticide. Here is her journey.
*Thank you for accepting our request for the interview. Let’s get you acquainted with our readers?
My name is Niat Abraham. I grew up in a family where education is considered as essential as food and the other necessities. Both of my parents are educated. My father is well educated and has consistently helped and pushed me to be better. I think that’s one of the reasons that always made me strive to be a front-runner. I was a prize winner throughout my school years, and then I went to Sawa in the 28th round, scored 3.4 in the matriculation exam. I joined the Institute of Technology at Mainefhi and learned my freshman year there. When I was a kid, as all parents do, my parents motivated me to be a doctor or some sort of a health professional. I took this to heart and when I finished the freshman courses I wanted to join departments that specialized in health sciences but couldn’t because I didn’t have the required grades. So, I was assigned to the College of Agriculture, where I studied plant protection for four years.
What was your experience in college like? Was your expectation met?
At first, I did not like the department I was in, but gradually my attitude changed, especially when I realized what I was learning would potentially help farmers to increase their harvest. In general college life was very interesting; I learned to live on my own and was able to develop different hobbies. I engaged in extracurricular activities. I played soccer with the college’s team on intra and inter college competition. I was the secretary for the college’s chapter of the National Union of Eritrean Youth and Students. I was also a member of the National Union of Eritrean Women. The most memorable time for me was our visit to the school for the deaf in Keren; we went there to share experiences.
*We heard that your senior paper might be a solution to the side effects and environmental concerns that come with pesticides. Can you please elaborate?
For the senior paper my team mates and I decided to focus our study on entomology, specifically biological control. In Eritrea, we commonly apply chemicals or pesticides to control pests and other plant diseases. The chemicals have a huge amount of side effects on biodiversity and cause water pollution and acute and delayed health effects on humans. In order to fix the problems that come with the use of pesticides, we came up with a biological control solution for farmer’s number one enemy and one of the most destructive insect pests called Aphid. To destroy Aphid our solution is Syriphid flies because they tend to consume a lot of aphids in their early stage of growth. We based our research on five plants and the results were effective, and we later discovered that Syriphid flies are also very active pollinators. We have plans to expand our study. There are 320 species of Syriphid and we have studied only three.