Master’s research on oyster mushrooms makes student cream of the crop
North-West University (NWU) PhD student, Sidwell Sihlangu, has been awarded a prize worth R20 000 for the best-researched journal in scientific innovation at the Provincial Youth in Agriculture Awards for his master’s research on cultivating oyster mushrooms in the arid climate of Mahikeng.
The awards ceremony was hosted by the North West Department of Rural, Environment and Agricultural Development (READ) as part of the second Provincial Youth in Agricultural Awards (YAA). The hosts of the event were Mr Supra Mahumapelo, Premier of Bokone Bophirima and Mr Manketsi Tlhape, MEC for READ. It was held at Wolmaranstad on 23 June this year.
The awards are aimed at encouraging and acknowledging excellence in agriculture among the youth. The Premier said the youth should remain fearless in pursuit of what they want to achieve and congratulated the department, READ, on the exceptional work they perform.
Youth must participate in agriculture
Mr Tlhape, the MEC for READ, emphasised the importance of youth participating in the agricultural sector and reaffirmed that the department is there to implement agricultural projects to support youth in the sector.
The award categories included Best Youth Cooperative, Best Innovative Enterprise, Best Emerging Youth Enterprise, Best Researched Journal in Scientific Innovation, and Best Young Lifestyle.
Sidwell had this to say about his award for the best-researched journal:
“Literature proved that it would be impossible to produce mushrooms in the North-West Province due to the harsh climatic conditions in the area and further substantiated that this can only be done using high-cost technology methods. I am proud and overwhelmed that my research brought the production of mushrooms using a low-cost technology which I invented. It is of importance that as postgraduate students we undertake research that will make an impact and address current issues affecting our communities.
“I encourage postgraduates to produce journals that are of great value and relevance, and not only journals that will remain in the library and internet with no use for future reference. The mushrooms project addressed various issues, including malnutrition, food security and climate change.
“I am humble and grateful for this award but not until I see communal farmers in the North-West Province being able to produce mushrooms at a lower cost and increasing their profit margins will I have made a contribution to agriculture,” he concluded.