My Writtle Story: Patrick Phiri

January 2023

Image for press release - A picture showing Patrick's head and shoulders as he smiles at the camera. Behind him are shelves of jars containing different grains.

Marshal Papworth scholar, Patrick Phiri studies MSc Crop Production. Patrick explains why he chose Writtle University College and talks about his plan to save lives by using new technologies to produce sustainable, nutritious food for the African market.


Why did you choose Writtle University College? 

I chose Writtle University College because of its beautiful environment which is very conducive for a self-paced study program that I am doing.

I wanted to study crop production with bias in controlled environment agricultural systems and the availability of the working glasshouse facility on campus made it an easy decision for me.

I also read a lot about the stuff behind my course, and I was very pleased with their education capabilities and achievements in my area of expertise.

I applied for the program, and I was accepted. When I got on campus, my first meeting with Dr Kambiz Baghalian, who is a Course Manager for Crop Production, and his experience in controlled environment agriculture cemented my feeling that I was in the right place.

Getting a scholarship to fund my education from Marshal Papworth Scholarship Fund made it attainable.


What are you enjoying about student life at Writtle? Are there any experiences that have stood out?

I am so happy with the content of the modules which are being offered in my course. We cover the whole process from nursery to the table of the consumer, the sustainability of producing such food and how to create a circular economy with the food waste which is left from the table.

I like how the program is set because it gives you the understanding of producing food while thinking of caring for the earth as well.

I love our visits to farms and industries involved in the food value chain, which gives me an opportunity to appreciate the actual industry experience.

The other valuable happiness comes from being able to conduct various trials under the glasshouse facilities on campus. Being able to appreciate the changes in crop growth is just mind blowing for me.


What are your career plans? 

My plans are to return to Malawi put whatever I have learned at the end of the course into practice back in Africa.

Many African people go to bed on empty stomach, and I hope to utilise my experiences and knowledge in these new technologies to grow more nutritious food for the African market and hopefully in the process save millions of lives from starvation.

I believe as the world population keeps on increasing, it is expected to reach 9.5 billion by 2050, the need for food to feed people across the world, which includes Africa, will be astronomical.

New food production systems which include regenerative agricultural practices, conservation agriculture and controlled environment systems are needed in Africa to sustainably produce more nutritious food for people thereby cutting logistical costs of importing food from overseas.

I believe, Africa has the potential to feed itself and even feed the world at large. All we need is to get organised and use the right expertise to produce enough food for Africa itself.


What developments do you hope to see in the future?

I believe we have to utilise technology to create sustainable food systems that can work in different regions of the world and biodiversify our production systems to produce more food for our ever-growing population.

When these food production systems are being developed, we must include people of colour in the process to allow knowledge transfer so that every part of the world has the capacity to produce food for itself.

Until no one dies of hunger, we are still not free and civilised as people of the earth. My studies in England continue to give me opportunities to meet new people, network, learn and I hope to collaborate with various stakeholders in my future plan of ensuring that food is available for every African child all year round.

In nutshell, it's very exciting to be part of Writtle University College. You get all the opportunities to excel in academic life and establish networks for post academic life. This creates a well balanced recipe for success.

I feel motivated and energised each day as I believe my future is being well cooked by a group of qualified chefs.

For more information on Writtle University College's postgraduate courses, click here