Category Archives: Students

This category features the work of student food system innovators and researchers.

Getting graduates agricultural experience in Malawi: an Interview with Sera Gondwe

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Sera Gondwe is a faculty member at the Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources. In November of 2016, Sera and her team launched a 6 months experiential learning program with graduates from LUANAR’s Agribusiness Management bachelors program. In this interview, Sera tells us more about the pilot.

Listen here.

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New tools to harvest better potatoes

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Mercy Kitavi is a geneticist and capacity-building scientist with the International Potato Center based in Nairobi, Kenya.

By Mercy Kitavi

In a traditional African setting, we say that time waits for no man and doesn’t spare the women either.

At exactly 5:30 a.m. in East Africa, the cock crows and Kanini slowly stretches from her rickety-legged wooden bed that is covered by a thin mattress. She knows she is lucky, yet every morning when she opens her eyes to a new day, she feels like closing them again.

Continue reading New tools to harvest better potatoes

Bridging food scientists and journalists with communications training in the public interest

Malawi researcher Phillip Kamwendo, with hat, explains experiment in groundnut production to African journalists . Image: David Poulson
Malawi researcher Phillip Kamwendo, with hat, explains crop experiments to African journalists . Image: David Poulson

By David Poulson

Phillip Kamwendo finished explaining to a group of African reporters how he used “friendly bacteria” to improve groundnut seeds.

Then the Malawi researcher turned to a nearby team led by Michigan State University experts, flashed them a wide grin and gave them two thumbs up. It was a highlight for our team that had worked for days with Kamwendo and others at Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources (LUANAR) to refine how to explain their research.

“When he asked the reporters how many of them understood what an innoculant was, I felt like a proud grandmother,” said Emmanuella Delva, a program officer with USAID, the project’s funder,  and who pitched in on the training.

Amol Pavangadkar, director of MSU's Sandbox Studios, explains video production techniques to Malawian journalists
Amol Pavangadkar, director of MSU’s Sandbox Studios, explains video production techniques to Malawian journalists. Image: David Poulson

The work in Malawi was the start of a two-continent, three-country training tour that I’m still on.  I just finished work with other scientists – including two MSU alums – at the Rwanda offices of the International Potato Center to help them explain their research story to funders and others.

Now I’m in Lima, Peru, about to do the same thing this week at that center’s South American headquarters.

The work in Malawi was by far the most complex. Continue reading Bridging food scientists and journalists with communications training in the public interest

Herding up grasshoppers and locusts – to eat

The Kenyan researchers in this video are investigating the large scale use of insects as a source of protein.

The idea is to turn a food threat into a food source. They hope to  feed the insects to chickens that in turn provide eggs and meat to people. But they’re also investigating how to put a protein powder made from the insects directly into human food.

The supplement could help severely malnourished children and nursing women  while providing jobs for youth.  The insects mature quickly and contain amino acids essential to proper nutrition.

Related stories:

 

Zero-waste cassava processing improves nutrition, family life

Worldwide more than 800 million people consume cassava.

This project by the  Tanzania Industrial Research and Development Organization works to use every bit of the popular root vegetable that requires minimal rain.

Even cassava waste is used to produce bio gas to dry the plant’s flower during the night. It’s an energy source that supplements solar drying during the day.

The project benefits women  who are often responsible for growing and processing crops while caring for families.