Joshua Minai

Joshua Minai  Profile Picture
Home Department:

Mentor / Lab:
Dr. Darrell G. Shulze | Soil Mineralogy/Chemistry/Pedology

Specific Research Area / Project:
Working with Traditional Soil Maps in Support of Transitioning From Analogue to Digital; a Case Study of Busia, Kenya’.

Undergraduate Institution:
Kenyatta University
B.S. in Environmental Sciences

Research Profile:

There is no doubt that soil is the cornerstone of food security and agricultural development. Its care, restoration, enhancement and conservation should intuitively become a major global priority. This can only happen when there is in-depth understanding of existing soil resources. However, in developing countries such as Kenya available soil information still remains unused or left idle in libraries as artefacts accumulating dust while the demand for soil data is soaring. Such information if appropriately mined and repackaged in a manner that can easily be understood can provide spatially explicit soil information for sustainable agricultural production and thus play an important role in the revitalization of agriculture especially for ‘digital soil-poor’ countries such as.

Joshua Minai  Research Picture

About Me:

I decided to come to graduate school because got tired of how youth were ostracized and or found it difficult to be involved in agricultural industry in Kenya. This was mainly due to the mantra that youth do not like agriculture because it is a ‘dirty job’. One specific encounter I vividly remember, which pushed me over the edge, was when I visited a smallholder farmer, John Juma, in rural western Kenya. He had 27 acres of land but could only plough 0.5 acres because he did not know where could sell his produce if he decided to have all his farm cultivated. So he practiced subsistence farming because he did not want to encounter any ‘losses’!

By then, I used to work at the World Agroforestry Center as a research assistant and my boss, Dr. Philip Dobie, advised me to rethink and go to graduate school and by doing that I would understand the ‘wicked’ nature of the agricultural sector. ‘Agriculture is just not about ploughing the land. You have to look at it across the value chain and by doing that you will identify where youth are more than willing to get engaged’ he would argue.

Therefore, I applied for Purdue’s Ecological Sciences and Engineering (ESE) graduate program in the department of Agronomy.

I have always eyed working for the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) but I will have to wait and see if that comes to pass. Nevertheless, in future, I envisage working as a policy officer for national, regional or international agencies in designing, assessing and providing sound and relevant policies that have a positive influence in creating the needed environment that will ease youth participation in the agricultural sector.


  • Minai, J. O. (2015). Assessing the spatial variability of soils in Uganda. Masters Thesis
  • Milder, J., Hart. A., Dobie, P., Minai, J., Zaleski, C. 2013. Integrated Landscape Initiatives for African Agriculture, Development, and Conservation: A Region-Wide Assessment. Elsevier Ltd. Vol. 54, pp. 68–80.


  • Minai, J. & Darrell, G. “Assessing the Spatial Variability of Soils in Uganda on the National Scale” – Oral presentation. Soil Science of America, November, 2015.
  • Minai, J. & Darrell, G. “Identifying constrains to attaining food and nutritional security among people living with HIV/AIDS in western Kenya”- Poster presentation. Ecological Sciences and Engineering 2014 Symposium. March, 2014.
  • Minai, J. & Darrell, G. “Identifying constraints to food and nutritional security among people living with HIV/AIDS in western Kenya”- Oral presentation. Office of Interdisciplinary Graduate Programs. November, 2014.


  • George D. Scarseth Travel Grant 2015


  • Ecological Sciences and Engineering Peer Mentor Program
  • Peer To Peer Leadership & Mentoring – Fall 2013
  • 2013 Ecological Sciences and Engineering Symposium

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