Lilongwe boy, 13, invents groundnuts plucking machine

Thirteen-year-old Kelvin Batwell from Nkhukwa Primary School in Traditional Authority Kalumba in Lilongwe District has invented a groundnuts plucking machine.

The innovation has since earned the Standard Seven pupil an accolade as he was named overall winner (primary school category) in the agricultural technology science competition dubbed AgTech Challenge, organised by the Centre for Agricultural Transformation (CAT).

Batwell poses with his medal

He was unveiled last Thursday during the Second Annual Summit hosted by Agricultural Transformation Initiative (ATI).

In the AgTech Challenge, students from primary, secondary and tertiary were invited to present innovations that address challenges faced by Malawian groundnut farmers.

Batwell was the centre of attraction from over 200 guests from local government, private, and farming sectors, as well as international delegates when he demonstrated how his groundnuts plucking machine, made from a simple bicycle wheel, operates.

In an interview, Batwell, who earned a grand prize of K300 000, promised not to relent in developing  inventions.

“This recognition has motivated me to embark on more innovations. I am always inspired by people like William Kamkwamba and other engineers,” he said.

Kamkwamba, a renowned innovator, author and farmer, is famed for developing a wind turbine to power multiple electrical appliances in his family’s house in Wimbe in Kasungu in 2002.

Interestingly, Kamkwamba was also a guest judge in the competition.

He said it was a great experience working with students to develop solutions to challenges facing the country as well as helping students shaping their ideas.

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