Category Archives: Students

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

Study: Malawi’s fertilizer subsidy not ‘miraculous’

messina
Joe Messina

By David Poulson

When geographer Joe Messina first analyzed satellite images of Malawi farm fields, he figured he had made a mistake.

Almost everywhere he looked in the East African nation he found maize harvest declines over the previous decade.  But this was the site of the Malawi Miracle, a fertilizer subsidy program so successful that it was lauded by researchers in scientific journals and by writers in the New York Times and The Economist.

It became a model program used to justify similar enormous investments by the international community in other African nations.

“I assumed I was wrong,” said Messina, a researcher at Michigan State University’s Global Center for Food Systems Innovation.

Continue reading Study: Malawi’s fertilizer subsidy not ‘miraculous’

Improving vegetable farming with community-driven irrigation tech in Uganda

Farmers installing an irrigation system . Photo provided by: Abraham Salomon

 

In Uganda, farmers in rain-fed agricultural communities depend on irrigation. Without irrigation, they battle with fluctuating and
unpredictable weather conditions, droughts and flooding. Crops don’t do well and yields are low.

Abraham Salomon. Photo: Lizzy LaFave

Researcher Abraham Salomon, of the University of California-Davis, is working in eastern Uganda, collaborating with local farmers, social advocates, and engineers on flexible and community-managed irrigation interventions. They’ve been installing and maintaining adaptable irrigation systems that allows tomatoes, cabbage, beans and other vegetables to thrive in the dry seasons and the unpredictable rainy seasons.

Listen to the our interview to Abraham here

Cooking, cooling and cultivating with poop

Rebecca Larson (center), with project partners near Kampala, Uganda.

Decomposing human and animal waste has the power to change lives. While it might sound – and smell – funny, the power of poop lies in biogas, a renewable energy source produced during the breakdown of waste. The process yields a gas of about 60 percent methane that can be used for cooking, refrigeration, and other basic needs. The waste itself can also be processed and applied to fields to enrich the soil and improve crop production.

Rebecca Larson. Photo by : Lizzy LaFave

That’s what waste engineer, Rebecca Larson, assistant professor professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison has been doing. She’s partnered with Vianney Tumwesige, CEO of Green Heat, a Ugandan energy company, teamed up on a host of projects in Kampala, Uganda that demonstrate new ways to transform waste to resource.

Listen our interview with Prof. Larson here

Improving coconut production in The Philippines using mobile technology

Informational SMS, arrives on a farmer’s cell phone. Photo provided by: Ana Herrera

Coconut is the largest stone fruit in the world. Sold in the food and beverage industry, harvested for construction purposes, used in cosmetics, and transformed into decorative objects, the coconut has many applications. While a quarter of the world’s coconut production stems from the Philippines, the country’s coconut farmers are the poorest around the world. Farmers earn about $2 a day. Climate hazards, pests and unfavorable market market conditions impede the overall production. Continue reading Improving coconut production in The Philippines using mobile technology

Managing bacterial diseases in onion

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The onion has been a part of the human diet for more than 7,000 years. But it’s not just for eating. Onions have been used as currency and even exchanged as a gift!

Bacterial diseases are the most significant threat to their production. Despite considerable effort to control these diseases with chemicals, farmers still lose a lot of onions.

Kim Eang Tho, a doctoral student in the department of plant, soil and microbial science at Michigan State University, is studying the source of bacterial pathogens in onions to find strategies to better manage diseases.

In a discussion with The Food Fix reporter, Ali Hussain, he first talked about the onion as a vegetable.

Listen to their interview here

Photo: Wikimedia