Ten New Masters of Agriculture Ready to Tackle Food Security Challenges
Ten new Masters of Agriculture are ready to contribute to food security in Africa. The graduates from the African Centre for Food Security (ACFS) received their Master of Agriculture degrees at the College of Agriculture, Engineering and Science’s Pietermaritzburg Graduation ceremony.
These students come from diverse cultural backgrounds in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Lesotho, Rwanda, Zimbabwe, and South Africa.
Five of the graduates are young South Africans whose graduation contributes to the increase in the number of Black South Africans holding a Food Security qualification as well as to the developmental needs of South Africa. Most of the students graduating got a Second Class Pass with one student achieving a First Class Pass.
‘Our students are integral to ACFS’s research mission and vital to our intellectual climate,’ said Mr Denver Naidoo of the ACFS. ‘They conduct research with the goal of improving our understanding on issues of food security and insecurity across a multi-disciplinary field.
‘ACFS values interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary research approaches to solve Africa’s problems. The range of topics covered by the students’ theses is indicative of the issues that affect the continent of Africa and the world over,’ said Naidoo.
Topics included that of food insecurity and socio-economic factors affecting academic performance undertaken by Ms Mbali Gwacela; as well as an assessment of making egg powder at rural community level for improved household food security by Ms Elizabeth Mnyandu.
Mr Andre Mpiana looked at using children’s anthropometric measurements as proxies for measuring household food security while Ms Zanele Tshabalala assessed the impact of food access on children on the nutrition supplementation programme to combat protein-energy malnutrition.
Mr Moipone Ramphoko did an analysis of the Southern African Development Community National Vulnerability assessment committees (SADC NVAC) towards the establishment of an effective and efficient South African Vulnerability assessment committee (SAVAC).
Ms Nkanyiso Gumede investigated water access constraints and land-based livelihoods for the empowerment of rural farming women and implications for household food security; and Mr Mbongeni Maziya performed a case study on an irrigation scheme to assess agricultural skills and their effects on agricultural productivity and household food security.
Mr Sylvester Mbanza researched the role of subsistence farming co-operatives in improving rural household food security in Rwanda; and Ms Kudzayi Makwangudze investigated home gardening as a mitigation measure for food security of HIV/AIDS affected households in Mpophomeni Township.
Mr Mpho Mafunzwaini examined the contribution of informal markets to poverty reduction and household food security amongst street traders in Limpopo.
Speaking about their achievements, Mafunzwaini thanked the University for the opportunity to study at the Institution and was also grateful for lecturers and fellow scholars within the African Centre for Food Security for their support. ‘My research has equipped me with an in-depth knowledge on how to conduct scientific research. I am looking forward to carrying on to PhD studies at UKZN,’ he said.
Ramphoko said: ‘I feel blessed to have completed my study - my research was a wonderful learning curve - with hardships along the way - and I intend to use the skills I acquired for the greater good. I want to pursue a PhD in Food Security. I would like to thank my supervisors, Dr Unathi Kolanisi and Dr Joyce Chitja.’
Most of the students say they will continue with PhD studies at UKZN or ACFS. This is an indication that staff at ACFS have worked extremely hard to mentor and supervise students to ensure a high level and standard of research was achieved.
The ACFS is geared to graduate several PhDs next year.
- Christine Cuénod and Denver Naidoo