:Dr Joyce Chitja of the University of KwaZulu Natal, centre with the Minister of Science and Technology, Mrs Naledi Pandor at the Women in Science Awards held recently in Centurion, Pretoria.
Recently, Dr Joyce Chitja was honoured at a recent function by the Minister of Science and Technology, Mrs Naled iPandorwith an award as the second runner up for the emerging researcher category which recognised her contribution towards the Development of Rural Women.
Dr J Chitja is used to being a trailblazer and pace setter in changing the material conditions of rural communities. “This is my calling” said Chitja, “we must nurture the linkage between agricultural innovation and uplifting small holder farmers particularly women farmers. In this regard, the community is a laboratory whom we must engage with vigor and respect so that we can co-construct new methods and techniques.”
Dr Chitja was one of the first two students to graduate in 2008 from the University of KwaZulu Natal’s (UKZN) Food Security programme with a doctorate in Food Security.
After two short stints in government she re-joined the UKZN in 2010 as a lecturer and later was appointed as the acting Director of the African Centre for Food Security. She also sits on the board of the Agribusiness Development Agency (ADA) and the Agricultural Research Council (ARC).
Dr Chitja is currently working with the Centow community outside Bulwer and the Swayimani community Greytown in KwaZulu Natal.