Youth Month 2022: Matome Peter Ngoetjana

Youth Month 2022: Matome Peter Ngoetjana

June is Youth Month, and this year the NRF is celebrating the youth of the NRF who are working towards achieving the UN’s 2030 Sustainable Development Goals. We thank all participants for sharing their stories with us and we hope that you are inspired by the young NRF-affiliated researchers who are helping to ensure a sustainable planet for all.

Matome Peter Ngoetjana is a PhD student in Soil Science at the University of Pretoria (UP). He received an NRF grantholder-linked scholarship in 2019 for his Master’s in Agriculture Soil Science at UP.

This is his story…

I am young man from Moletjie Kanana, Capricorn district, Limpopo. I was born and raised there by strong women who supported me throughout my studies till this moment. I am the youngest in a family of five children.

I have always wanted to become a scientific researcher. I understood that being a researcher is not easy but I was motivated by the fact that I would be in a better position to solve matters affecting society and the world in general, in particular, in the fields of science and agriculture. Researchers are like future predictors, they see a problem coming from a distance and put in place measures to prevent or reduce its impact.

I completed my undergraduate degree (BSc in Agriculture Soil Sciences) in 2018 at the University of Venda and joined UP in 2019 for my Master’s degree. I have always wanted to further my studies and hopefully obtain my PhD in Soil Science and become a researcher, and NRF came to my rescue. I used my scholarship to pay my tuition fees and accommodation and cover my living expenses.

This year, 2022, is my first year of registration for my PhD in Soil Science and I am so excited to have embarked on this journey.

Did you have to overcome any obstacles to be where you are today, and what did you learn from it?

One of the challenges I faced in my life was when I was doing my first year of undergraduate studies. I had no bursary or funding whatsoever and I was barely able to cover my tuition fees and accommodation at that time. That’s when I realised that sometimes the little we have in life is what will bring greater things in the future. And here I am today – the future looks bright!

If I had dropped out of school, I would probably have regretted it by now.

What is your research focus/area of expertise?

My research is mainly focused on the fate of emerging contaminants in the biowaste-soil-plant-water systems.

The United Nations identified 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to ensure “…a better and more sustainable future for all…” by 2030. Which of these goals are you addressing through your research, or in your personal life?

My research is directly and indirectly linked to 15 of the 17 United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals, especially SDG 1: No poverty; SDG 2: Zero Hunger; SDG 15: Life on Land, and SDG: 12: Responsible Consumption and Production.

For example, the use of biowaste fertilisers in agricultural lands improves soil quality (addressing SDG 15) and subsequently enhances crop production (addressing SDG 1 and 2). The use of biowaste fertilisers in agricultural lands is also in line with SDG 12, which promotes the prevention, reduction, recycling and reuse of waste generated. Through my research workshops and conferences, I will be creating awareness and addressing 15 of the 17 SDGs.

What are some of your proudest achievements?

My recent MSc degree completion.

What are your career aspirations for the future?

I would like to be an NRF-rated researcher and continue to contribute to the community and the scientific society, both locally and internationally.

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