CAREER OF THE WEEK
- Guest: Eric Malopa
- Firm: Karonga Baka Research Station
It is now a cliché that agriculture is the backbone of Malawi’s economy. For since time immemorial, Malawi has been agro-based, and there is no clear indication the status quo is going to change any time soon.
For the said industry to be successful, it requires fresh approaches to our farming practices. That is why Agricultural Research Scientists become handy.
This week, EM’s Gomezgani Mhango engages Eric Malopa, an Agricultural Research Scientist with the ministry of Agriculture under Karonga Baka Research Station.
By Gomezgani Mhango
I was born on 17 April 1992. My home village is Mwenengubwe under Traditional Authority Kyungu, I grew up in Karonga with my uncles and partly with my grandparents after the death of all my parents (1994-95) consecutively.
Brief academic background
My academic journey started at Kasikizi primary school, then got selected to Mpata CDSS in 2006 of which I didn’t finish there since I got transferred to Maghemo secondary school.
In 2009, I completed my MSCE and scored 17 points. I attempted University Entrance Examination (UEE) from 2010 to 2012 but didn’t stand a chance to be picked. While attempting UEE, I joined Karonga teachers’ college as a student trainee on the program IPTE6 from 2010 to 2012. That was on the completion of my teaching training.
I resit for the 2012 MSCE right there at Karonga TTC open and got 13 points. I had to sit again for the UEE during the 2013/14-year intake. This coincided with postings as a primary school teacher within Karonga at Thunduti Hangalawe TDC. In the same year of 2013, as I was posted to be the primary school teacher, it also happened that I was to be the student at Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources (LUANAR) BUNDA campus to pursue Bachelor of Science in Agriculture sciences. Since 2013, I remained loyal to the LUANAR level of academic standards till 2017 as a finishing line. On 21st March 2018, I was awarded a bachelor of science degree in agriculture sciences with a Credit.
- Was this field, your childhood dream?
Yes. for the love of science, I have always been one. But not specifically on the agricultural perspective since I couldn’t expect much science in agriculture as it’s something we are familiar with yet truly I was void of knowledge about this huge kind of science I dreamed of since my childhood.
- Briefly explain how you found yourself as a scientist?
After i was posted to be a primary teacher at Thunduti primary school, It was the same year that i was selected to pursue Bachelor of Science in Agriculture at Luanar
So I decided to go to Luanar in order to achieve my dreams of becoming a scientist.
Brief job description
In science my thinking is I have to look for the probable always yet the society expects the possible thing hence as a scientist my typical role is to look for the probable in nature or society(niche) in order to give the possibilities to that particular society.
Actually it’s a challenged career as it surely involves challenging your mind in trying to understand what is the current situation comparing with past (literature reviewing) hence identifying the research gap from which, as a scientist, it requires working on in order to address the prevalent or future challenges. In short, science involves solving problems by coming up with a resilient alternative way to that particular problem in our society. i.e. poor rainfall distribution throughout the season than before, scientific alternative is coming up with water harvesting technology that will sustainably supply water to the growing crops.
Brief career path
I worked with Lunyangwa Research Station in 2016 as a researcher intern. I have also work as a Project Officer intern at at Tiyeni organization in Mzuzu in the year of 2017. The organization promotes a climate smart agriculture technology through deep bed methods.
A day in the life of a Research Scientist
- What does it mean, and how does it feel being in that position as yours?
I just feel great and normally fine with it because it is something I find interesting each and every day.
- What is your normal day like? What is your position all about?
Normally, daily work resumes from 7:30 AM to 4:30 PM, and it takes simple stuff like reviewing past work, develop research proposals, designing the data collection tools and budget estimates, procure materials for research projects, training and supervisions are my time to time work schedule.
- Briefly take us through any busy day of a research scientist
Much to it is when the data is collected then it must undergo the analysis levels using the statistical packages in order to come up with a thorough scientific explanation over the research activities, write ups, literature reviews and power point writing makes the work at the climax.
To aspiring Agricultural Research scientists
- What are some of the attributes of a would-be research scientist?
Hardworking and innovativeness, bilateral kind of thinking, and time consciousness complete everything.
- Is being a research scientist that rewarding?
For every passion we devote in life, nobility is the only reward.
- What are the likely challenges associated with your position?
As a scientist, you are always challenged. The modern world is overwhelmed with so many upcoming challenges that require identifying and designing relevant technologies that can caution the human kind on their everyday problems. For example, climate changes, economic and educational deficiency, lack of motivation support and many more hinder this profession
- A message to aspiring youths out there
Greatness takes time, you can spend all your time in seeking motivations but it requires patience in order to see the motivation itself coming your way and thus when you can untie the string ended into a knot.