Mzamose Gondwe has written an interesting article about Mr. Frederick Msiska, an innovative peasant farmer from Ntchenachena in Rumphi district of Northern Malawi. Mr. Msiska only attended school until the 5th grade due to school fees problems. But that has not stifled the spirit of innovation in him.

Fredrick_Msiska Chemical Sprayer

Battery operated handheld chemical sprayer

In her article, Mzamose reports that Mr. Msiska has built a biogas converter for his toilet that he uses to produce electricity. He has also built a cell phone charger, a fan and a chemical sprayer for use on his farm. The charger and the fan use the electricity produced by his biogas converter.

When asked about what motivated him, he says “I looked around and I found that certain things were missing in my life so I studied very closely things that the government supplies. I made them myself through trial and error. I just kept trying, trying, and trying until they eventually worked.”

Because I grew up at Mzokoto, which is close to Ntchenachena, I am very familiar with the mululuzga tree (just like Mzamose, I also don’t know the English translation of mululuzga), which Mr Msiska is using in his biogas converter. The mululuzga tree is very common in the Henga Valley and surrounding areas, but I did not know that it can produce acid. All I remember is that people use some of its parts as traditional medicine.

Mr. Msiska is older than William Kamkwamba, the boy who harnessed the wind, and Gabriel Kondesi, the boy who harnessed the airwaves. But the spirit of innovation at work in their lives is similar. I am of the view that there is a lot more innovation taking place in the rural areas that goes unnoticed.

Some of our journalists on the ground must devote more time to unearthing these kinds of stories and running columns on innovation in their dailies. The pro-Malawi digerati is more than ready to promote such stories on line. With  increased publicity both on-line and off-line, it will be easy to find experts who can help to further develop these works.