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MASSACHUSETTS INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY Legatum Center for Development & Entrepreneurship

Entrepreneurs

The Legatum Center supports entrepreneurs all around the world through the Fellowships and Grants

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Augustine Zvinavashe

Mastercard Foundation 2020 - 2021
Alumni
Legatum Fellow
From:
Zimbabwe
Sector:
Agriculture
Location:
India
Degree:
PhD, School of Engineering

Augustine’s venture, MicroLife, focuses on engineering microbial seed coatings to grow plants in marginal lands by providing key nutrients. Marginal lands are soils affected by salinity and drought that are difficult to farm on. With climate change, the proportion of marginal and degraded soils will increase and agriculture will become more challenging. About 1/3 of our agricultural land is degraded, while we grow 95% of our food on topsoil. Augustine’s work will help communities in Africa (Morocco and Zimbabwe) increase crop yields/production where soils are degraded and fertilizer use is limited because of costs. Overall, the technology will help farmers lower fertilizer costs, boost productivity in marginal lands and lower their carbon footprint from synthetic fertilizer use.

Augustine grew up in Zimbabwe, in a family of farmers. His grandmother was a farmer and his father an agricultural economist. This inspired him to work in agriculture. Augustine’s PhD program is focused on “Engineering the seed microenvironment” for delivering microbe-laden fertilizer to plants for greener farming. He earned an undergraduate degree in 2016 in Civil and Environmental engineering from MIT and is a previous recipient of the GEM fellowship, ODGE fellowship & Schoettler scholarship fund for Doctoral Research. He currently works in the Marelli Advanced Biopolymers lab in the Civil and Engineering Department.

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