Travel Grant for World Congress on Agroforestry for PhD Candidate

Travel Grant for World Congress on Agroforestry for PhD Candidate

UKZN’s Mr Misheck Musokwa, who is pursuing his doctorate in the School of Agricultural, Earth and Environmental Sciences, was in Montpellier in France to take part in the fourth World Congress on Agroforestry – thanks to a travel grant awarded by the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) and the organising and scientific committees of the Congress.

Musokwa was one of only 20 delegates selected from 386 applicants to receive this travel grant, with participants coming from African, Caribbean and Pacific states. Funding came from a grant made to ICRAF by the Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Co-operation (CTA) in The Netherlands – a joint international institution of the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States and the European Union.

As part of his selection, Musokwa, together with other grant recipients, participated in an ICRAF/CTA training and policy session on Agroforestry and the Nationally Determined Contributions preceding the Congress. This involved discussion of how agroforestry contributes to reaching the goals of the Paris Climate Change Accord.

The Congress theme focused on strengthening the links between science, society and policy, and its aim is to contribute to the progress of agroforestry science and practice in order to bridge the science-policy gap.

Musokwa joined more than 1 000 delegates from around the world at the congress, including policy makers, farmers, donors, government officials, students, the private sector and civil society representatives.

Musokwa presented a poster on the Effects of Improved Pigeonpea Fallows on Biological and Physical Soil Properties and their Relationship with Maize Yield – a chapter of his PhD thesis work which involves quantifying soil benefits and water use in agroforestry systems in South Africa. He is investigating agroforestry as a sustainable or alternative technique to fertiliser use for smallholder farmers in South Africa to combat the widespread challenge of soil degradation and nutrient depletion.

‘It was a dream come true to showcase my work at this kind of international forum,’ said Musokwa. ‘This was great milestone in my career and it was exciting to meet renowned scientists in the field of agroforestry and expand my networks.’

Musokwa hopes to provide smallholder famers and policy makers with farming system technology that can cope with climate change to ensure food security.

His research interests include agroforestry, soil fertility, modelling of nutrients and water in agroecosystems, and climate change. He has experience in agroforestry research having worked as a research officer for the Department of Research and Specialist Services at the Agronomy Research Institute and as a development facilitator for Dzikwa Trust in his home country of Zimbabwe, where he completed his undergraduate and honours studies in Crop Science at the Bindura University of Science Education.

His PhD work, like his masters research, is funded through the Institute of Natural Resources and forms part of a Water Research Commission project on the topic of the water use of agroforestry systems for food and forage production.

Professor Paramu Mafongoya and Professor Simon Lorentz are supervising his research.

Words: Christine Cuénod

Photograph: Supplied by Misheck Musokwa