Stanlee Juma joined the Norman Borlaug LEAP as a 2015 Fall Fellow. He holds a BSc in Agriculture (crop science) and is currently pursuing an MSc in Soil Science at Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources (LUANAR) in his home country Malawi. His research focuses on the development of sustainable mechanisms for enhancing maize-dairy integration production systems as a part of conservation-farming technology. He is looking to understand the soil nitrogen and carbon dynamics in maize-forage legumes cropping systems in order to establish the determinants of crop residue use for feeding livestock and soil fertility management. Specifically, the study will be investigating the potential for improving nutrient availability through inter-cropping maize with forage legumes, manure addition and crop residue retention. The project aims to contribute towards the improvement of maize – dairy integrated production systems for enhanced productivity through development and/or identification of suitable and adoptable production technologies leading to improved food security and livelihoods in Malawi.
Stanlee worked on soil research during his BSc studies and published a few papers on his findings. Since then, he has focused on improving soil productivity after observing the production challenges farmers are facing. He feels that, with the changes in climate and the ever increasing human population, smallholder farmers will have to be able to produce food more sustainably on smaller plots of land, hence a need for more sustainable production systems that can protect and preserve the soils. Stanlee spent time as an Operations Support Analyst at Exagris Africa Limited, a commercial farming company in Malawi where he worked on fertilizer recommendations for the company’s production activities and also conducted several trials as a part of their research and development programs. He believes that Malawi food status can improve if there is an improvement on the linkages between research, policy, and extension. This belief led him to team up with friends to establish an agronomy society; one of its objectives is to act as an umbrella platform to address the gaps that exists within the agricultural sector in Malawi.
Stanlee worked with US mentor Dr. Raymond R. Weil, a professor of Soil Science at the University of Maryland, and CGIAR mentor Dr. Jeremias Mowo, a senior scientist and the Regional Coordinator for East and Southern Africa at ICRAF. Dr. Weil has over 40 years experience in soil fertility research, much of it in Africa. He assisted and guided Stanlee in defining his research goals and refining the methods of achieving them. Dr. Weil assisted Stanlee during his his time in the US, introducing him to other scientists in the field and developing his skills as a researcher. Dr. Mowo worked with Stanlee to implement his research in Malawi. He mentored Stanlee through the ICRAF regional offices in Malawi and Kenya where he did a portion of his internship. Stanlee expects to complete his degree in April 2017.