Prisila Mkenda has long been interested in environmentally friendly pest management options. Her research while pursuing her master’s degree revealed the importance of reduced chemical pesticide use to farm biodiversity and its relationship to pest control. This triggered Prisila’s PhD research, which focused on the influence of farm biodiversity, particularly plant diversity, on potential predators and parasitoids of insect pests and their contribution in pest management in smallholder bean farming ecosystems. The McKnight Foundation and Darwin Initiative sponsored her study “Harnessing Agricultural Ecosystem Biodiversity for Bean Production and Food Security.”
What CCRP projects were/are you involved in, and how did you contribute?
For the McKnight and Darwin Initiative projects I investigated the suitability of selected wild plant species located in field margins to support populations of natural enemies of common bean. The aim of the research was to identify candidate species that can enhance the control of bean pests through ecological interventions. This research contributed to successful completion of the projects.
How has the CCRP/McKnight impacted your education/career, and how has that support affected you personally as a leader?
McKnight was among my PhD funders and, through this project, I was able to achieve my dreams of becoming a PhD holder. Currently, I am a lecturer and supervisor of both undergraduate and postgraduate students in the Department of Biosciences at Solomon Mahlangu College of Science and Education (SMCoSE) at Sokoine University of Agriculture.
What do you plan to pursue next?
My plans are to:
- Disseminate the knowledge gained to interested people (including students under my supervision) in my research area for further studies.
- Write grant proposals in the research area for more study and effective implementation by smallholder farmers.
- Look for a postdoctoral scholarship for further studies in my research area.