Using mobile apps to fight the fall armyworm: Lokwa Mila Giresse

By Jennifer Johnson

Lokwa Mila Giresse, winner of the 2019 MAIZE Youth Innovators Awards – Africa in the category of “change agent”. Photo: Provided by Lokwa Mila Giresse.

Lokwa Mila Giresse was concerned when he first heard of the challenges maize farmers in his native Democratic Republic of the Congo were facing due to the fall armyworm, an invasive insect pest from the Americas that has been steadily munching its way across Africa since it was first reported on the continent in 2016. The pest presents a major threat to food security in Africa since it feeds on over 80 different crop species but shows a particular preference for maize – a key staple crop in the region. Lokwa turned to technology to help farmers find a solution to the problem, developing the Mobile Agribiz App that can help farmers diagnose and monitor fall armyworm infestation in maize. He was recently recognized for his tech savvy work by the 2019 MAIZE Youth Innovators Awards – Africa, which he won in the category of “change agent”.

Young innovator develops bicycle-powered maize cleaning machine to help schoolchildren

By Jennifer Johnson

Ismael Mayanja never intended to work in agriculture, but knew he wanted to make a positive impact on his country. The 23-year-old engineer was recently awarded the 2019 MAIZE Youth Innovators Award – Africa in the category of “researcher” for his work developing a bicycle-powered maize cleaning machine that reduces labor time and improves the health of school children in his native country, Uganda.

These awards, an initiative of the CGIAR Research Program on Maize (MAIZE), recognize the contributions of young women and men below 35 years of age who are implementing innovations in African maize-based farming systems. This is the second year of the awards, and the first time to be held in Africa. The award ceremony took place in Lusaka, Zambia during the annual Stress Tolerant Maize for Africa (STMA) project meeting May 7-9, 2019.

Ismael Mayanja poses with his award at the 2019 MAIZE Youth Innovators Awards – Africa ceremony. Photo: Jerome Bossuet.

Hildegarde Dukunde brings innovative solution to safeguard maize storage

By Jennifer Johnson

Hildegarde Dukunde has a mission: to make sure the DryCard, an inexpensive device developed by researchers at the University of California-Davis (UC Davis) to determine if food is dry enough to prevent the growth of mold and harmful aflatoxins, reaches as many farmers as possible. The 28-year old Rwanda native works as a sales associate in agrifood business and was recently recognized for her innovative work by the 2019 Maize Youth Innovators Awards – Africa, winning in the “change agent” category at an awards ceremony in Lusaka, Zambia on May 9.

Increasing maize resistance to parasitic weeds: Admire Shayanowako

By Jennifer Johnson

Admire Shayanowako is no stranger to agriculture or the problems that smallholder farmers in Africa face. The 31-year old maize researcher grew up on a small farm in Zimbabwe where his family was constantly plagued by parasitic weeds. Now based at the University of Kwazulu Natal in South Africa, he is working on biocontrol agents and maize genetic resistance against Striga, also known as “witch weed”. He was recently recognized for his innovative research as one of the winners of the 2019 Maize Youth Innovators Awards – Africa, in the category of “researcher” at an awards ceremony in Lusaka, Zambia on May 9.