During the 13th RUFORUM Annual General Meeting in Lilongwe, the RUFORUM Secretariat awarded outstanding scientists and farmers from Malawi for their exceptional work and contribution to agricultural development.
Outstanding Lead Farmers in Malawi
Five farmers from within Malawi were awarded for their outstanding work and leadership in farming in Malawi. These farmers were nominated by the local partners in Malawi and represented all regions of the country. One of the awardees, Ngabaghila Chatata, is a young woman who left her full time job in 2015, to build an innovative agribusiness venture called Thantwe Enterprises specializing in horticulture, agritourism, livestock and agricultural advisory services. She currently sells her produce to high end markets including hotels and super markets within Lilongwe city. Her farm currently consists of a 1700 square meter green house and 5 acres of irrigated open land. Annually she produces 50 tons of high quality vegetables including sweet peppers, sweet melons, tomatoes, cucumbers, and mushrooms with innovative climate smart drip irrigation and mulching to maximize productivity per unit area of land. Her farm is also gradually becoming a center for excellence for horticulture and agro processing where students have visited over time to gain practical skills through internships.
Outstanding Young Malawian Scientists
Two scientists from Chancellor College, University of Malawi were recognized under this award.
Dr. Chomora Mikeka, a Senior Lecturer in Physics and Deputy Dean of Science was the first awardee recognized for his exceptional work in telecommunications, including his invention of a multi-function antenna called Kangaude- translated to spider in Chichewa- which is able to capture a wide spectrum of signals (TV White Space Internet, Digital TV, DTT) just like a spider.
He also pioneered the development of TV White Spaces (TVWS) regulations in Malawi in partnership with the Malawi Communications Regulatory Authority (MACRA) and the Dynamic Spectrum Alliance (DSA). He is the Project Coordinator for the EPSRC Affordable Internet Access (AIA) project funded by UK Global Challenge Research Funds (GCRF) in partnership with the White Space Communications Centre at the University of Strathclyde, Glasgow in Scotland.
In addition to being an International Telecommunication Union (ITU) expert, Dr. Mikeka is also a well accomplished academician and curriculum specialist who is currently a visiting Professor at the African Centre of Excellence in Internet of Things (ACEIoT) in Kigali, Rwanda. He also holds several awards; and is a fellow of the CV Raman (1930 Physics Nobel Prize Winner) and an associate of the International Centre for Theoretical Physics in the Gugliemo Marconi Wireless Lab in Trieste, Italy.
The second awardee was Dr. Tiwonge Davis Manda, a Senior Lecturer in Computer Science and Head of Computer Science Department also at the Chancellor College, University of Malawi.
Dr. Tiwonge Davis Manda was recognized for his work in Health Informatics. His work has mostly concerned the evolution of Health Information Systems (HIS) in Malawi which resulted in the implementation and scaling of the first mobile phone solutions for the national Health Management Information System in Malawi between 2012-2015.
Currently, Tiwonge is involved in a research project developing electronic health record systems, with integrated support for medical sensors, targeting rural and deep-rural clinics. He is also the University of Malawi’s Coordinator for the ExTending Health Informatics Capacity (ETHIC) project, which aims to facilitate academic partnerships and postgraduate student mobility between the University of Malawi, University of Oslo, and University of Eduardo Mondlane.
In his remarks on the recognition awards, the Malawi Minister of Education, Science and Technology, Hon. Bright Msaka, SC, indicated his pride in all the achievements of these scientists and farmers.
Written by Catherine Mloza-Banda, Onsite Reporter for the RUFORUM AGM 2017