Food Security PhD Student Presents Research Work at International Conference
A student at UKZN’s African Centre for Food Security (ACFS) in the School of Agricultural, Earth and Environmental Sciences (SAEES), Ms Feyisayo Odunitan-Wayas, presented her work done on the literature review of her PhD at the International Food and Agribusiness Management Association’s (IFAMA) annual World Conference in the United States.
Odunitan-Wayas is completing her PhD on the topic of the influence of bio-fortified pro-vitamin A on indigenous chickens to improve food security and nutrition. Her poster presented at the Conference was titled: “Interventions for Curbing Vitamin A Deficiency in Sub-Saharan Africa – A Review”.
In her research, Odunitan-Wayas is collecting data on perceptions of rural and small-holder farmers about biofortified maize. Since the maize is a different colour from what they are used to, people are reluctant to eat it, despite its nutritional benefits. Odunitan-Wayas is examining how these benefits may be transferred to people through first feeding the maize to chickens raised for consumption.
Odunitan-Wayas said seeing people from other countries working in the same field encouraged her and provided a standard against which she could measure her work. She also met other South Africans working in the field from institutions such as the University of Pretoria, the University of Fort Hare and the Agricultural Research Council.
Presentations at the Conference emphasised that small-holder farmers were the future, and that it was vital to understand people and come down to their level for science to be meaningful for those involved in agriculture.
Odunitan-Wayas, who is from Nigeria and obtained her undergraduate and masters degrees at the University of Ilorin, elected to pursue her PhD at UKZN after hearing from friends about the Institution’s strong academic reputation.
Dr Unathi Kolanisi, Dr Muthulisi Siwela and Professor Michael Chimonyo of the Disciplines of Food Security, Dietetics and Human Nutrition, and Animal Science in the School of Agricultural, Earth and Environmental Sciences (SAEES) are supervising Odunitan-Wayas’ research.
Asked why she enjoyed studying in the field, Odunitan-Wayas said: ‘What’s not to like about Food Security? If people are not hungry, they can be happy. It allows me to be part of the solution to a problem the world is facing.’ She hopes to continue research beyond her PhD.
‘No knowledge is ever wasted,’ said Odunitan-Wayas. ‘I never want to stop learning.’
Odunitan-Wayas thanked her supervisors for their support and commitment to her as a student, and also her family, husband and children for their invaluable support.
Her attendance at the Conference was made possible by funding from the College of Agriculture, Engineering and Science and her supervisors.