WaterNet Symposium’s Best Presentation Award winner, Mr Hillary Mugiyo.

Crop Science PhD Candidate Wins Best Presentation Award at WaterNet Symposium

Mr Hillary Mugiyo, a PhD candidate in the Discipline of Crop Science at UKZN, received first prize for his oral presentation at the 20th WaterNet/Water Research Fund for Southern Africa (WARFSA)/Global Water Partnership Southern Africa (GWP-SA) Symposium.

Mugiyo was among a number of staff and students from UKZN’s School of Agricultural, Earth and Environmental Sciences (SAEES) to attend the symposium in Johannesburg, the theme of which was Integrated Water Resources Development and Management: Leaving No One Behind for Sustainable Water Security in Eastern and Southern Africa.

His presentation on multi-criteria land evaluation for suitability analysis of neglected and underutilised crop species in South Africa covered aspects of his PhD research under the supervision of Dr Tafadzwa Mabhaudhi. He presented under the symposium sub-theme of water, land, energy and agriculture, while Mabhaudhi led two special sessions at the symposium, one on the Decision Analytic Framework to explore the Water-Food-Energy nexus, and another on the GWP-SA.

Mugiyo outlined his research that aims to develop suitability maps to identify optimal land for the production of neglected and underutilised crop species (NUCS), which are generally suitable for drought-prone areas, making them ideal for marginalised production systems. Limited information is available on the use of suitability maps for production and Mugiyo aims to fill this gap. His research focuses on sorghum, cowpea, taro and amaranth crops, making use of Geographic Information Systems and Multi-Criteria Decision Making Analysis and the Analytic Hierarchy Process to develop suitability maps. Among other factors, the study takes into consideration historical climatic indicators, soil and landscape attributes, socio-economic indicators, and technical indicators. The research has demonstrated that South Africa’s marginal lands are suitable for the selected NUCS assessed in his study.

Mugiyo also presented this research as a poster at UKZN’s Postgraduate Research and Innovation Symposium in October, for which he received first prize in the PhD category. His work forms part of an ongoing initiative by the Centre of Transformative Agriculture and Food Systems in the SAEES to promote the use of NUCS to enhance food and nutrition security in marginal communities.

Words and Photograph: Christine Cuénod