2022 CSC Research Output winner

Mirriam Makungwe

Mirriam MAKUNGWE Headshot

Mirriam Makungwe is the winner of the 2022 CSC Research Output award stream for her article Assessing land suitability for rainfed paddy rice production in Zambia, published in Geoderma Rejional.

Mirriam is a 2019 Commonwealth Split-site Scholar from Zambia and completed a PhD in Integrated Soil Fertility Management at the University of Nottingham and the University of Zambia. Her article examines the suitability of land for rainfed rice paddy production in order to advise key players in the value chain, including farmers, policy makers, private sector, and researchers.

Low agricultural productivity is a critical challenge to achieving food security and improving rural livelihoods in Zambia and Sub-Saharan Africa. Rice production has been identified as a potential food crop that can help solve this issue in Zambia, however prior to Mirriam’s study, no research had been conducted on the suitability of Zambia’s land for growing rice. The maps published in her paper provide a guide to selecting suitable sites for rainfed paddy production and highlight challenges and limited potential for rainfed paddy rice production across the country.

In light of her findings, Mirriam has conducted further research to assess the suitability of irrigated and upland rice production as alternative rice crops. She is pleased to report that the results of her further study indicate significant potential for irrigated upland rice production in Zambia. These findings will support Zambia’s National Rice Development Strategy (NRDS), managed by the Ministry of Agriculture, to help expand the production of rice and contribute to rice crop production modelling in the Zambezi.

These studies, conducted during her Commonwealth Split-site Scholarship at the University of Nottingham’s School of Biosciences and the Future Food Beacon, have formed part of Mirriam’s work at the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) under the Sustainability Nexus Research Cluster and Ecosystem Management and Services Program (SNR/ESM). As a result of her research, Mirriam was awarded a One Planet Laureate Candidate by African Women in Agricultural Research and Development (AWARD), a 3-year career-development programme that seeks to build a vibrant, highly connected, and intergenerational network of African and European scientist leaders equipped to lead next-generation research focused on helping Africa’s smallholder farmers adapt to a changing climate. Following the completion of Mirriam’s PhD in April 2022, she has also been awarded an Innovative Metrics and Methods for Agriculture and Nutrition Actions (IMMANA) Post-Doctoral Fellowship to evaluate the supply of Zinc in staple crops, and available Zinc in the soil, across contrasting soil types in Zambia.

Mirriam is currently working as a Research Officer at the Innovations Scaling for the International Water Management Institute (IWMI). She is a Zambian Women in Agricultural Research and Development (ZaWARD) member and an Africademics Scholarship Ambassador. Mirriam’s research contributes to Sustainable Development Goals 2 and 12, and to the CSC Development Theme Science and technology for development.

CSC Research Ouput award stream: Highly commended entry

Dr Aji Alex Moothedathu Raynold, a 2017 Commonwealth Rutherford Fellow from India, was commended highly by the judges for his paper Competitive binding and molecular crowding regulate the cytoplasmic interactome of non-viral polymeric gene delivery vectors, published in Nature Communications. His research contributes to Sustainable Development Goal 3, and to the CSC Development Theme Science and technology for development.