Brilliant 11-year old’s invention wins three awards

By Maryam Nasir

Who would have thought livestock innovation would push demand from consumers for improved sustainability across livestock sector? Surprisingly it came from a little girl.

Pahang-born, Maryam Muzamir has spent time learning new things and deepening her existing passion. 

Establishing herself as a bona fide inventor, the 11-year-old girl never stopped from moving forward and has shocked the world as the ‘best young inventor’.  

The invention by Standard Five student of SK (P) Methodist Kuantan is ‘YAM 2.0’ livestock feed made from ground shrimp and sea snail shells. 

This invention is not something a normal little kid would do during the pandemic. At least not for her.

Her invention won three prestigious awards at the 6th International Invention, Innovation Competition (iCAN) 2021 in Toronto, Canada. 

She is inspired by Greta Thunberg, a young climate activist, and wants to address the estimated 15,000 tonnes food wastes produced every day in the United States.

Who knew that from one of her family’s trips to the seafood restaurants that lined the coast there has sparked the idea? At that time, she was struck by how much waste that was generated by these eateries, particularly the number of shells discarded.

Fortunately, she came up with the revolutionary idea after reading an article that stated that seafood shells contain the compound chitin and that it is beneficial to livestock. 

Without us knowing, livestock helps to raise welfare standards and well-being of farm animals, both of which are important aspects of future farming policy. 

So, it was not easy for her to compete against over 600 competitors from more than 70 countries for the awards, but she succeeded as the competition’s youngest winner, thanks to her dedication. 

Her motivations were also informed by the revelation that meat prices have been on the rise in recent years, as she saw a gap in the livestock supply chain that needed to be addressed.

While unstable livestock feed prices are a major contributor to the rise, high-quality corn feed, in particular, is prohibitively expensive.

With support from her dad, Dr. Muzamir with civil engineering background and an associate professor at Universiti Malaysia Pahang, this has greatly helped in her journey. 

“Based on our observations, the cost of producing ‘YAM 2.0’ is lower than that of conventional animal feed products, and it can be used to feed chickens, goats, fish, and even pigs,” Dr. Muzamir told an English daily.

He said: “Because the product is cost-effective, it will aid in the control of supply chain production costs and ‘YAM 2.0’ is cost-effective and a high-quality solution.”

The results of her preliminary field tests were promising and she gave the prototyped product to a nearby dairy farm after acquiring and synthesizing large amounts of discarded shells from restaurant operators.

After that initiative, Maryam discovered that if the cows have been fed the more expensive, conventional feed, their milk would have been of comparable quality.

Caring about “quality feed means quality food” is not what is usual for an 11-year-old kid. Her pondering of this issue turned out to be a good outcome. 

In less than a month, Maryam has become a household name in Malaysia as her invention is known worldwide and now her name has reached the US with “The Late Late Show with James Corden”.

The popular episode aired on 23 September that focused on the issue of climate change and sustainability, praised Maryam’s work and a clip from the episode was tweeted.

“Maryam Muzamir, she’s an 11-year-old young girl from Malaysia. She found the use for a common food waste, seafood shells, and she makes those shells into a new sustainable, healthy livestock feed. She’s 11 years old! Yeah, in Malaysia.” 

With over 650,000 views and over 18,000 retweets, the video has gone viral. The attention given indirectly will help create awareness of this invention to grow in the future.

Such achievement does not stop her by being in comfort zone as she intends to take the invention product further to market it. ***

(This article is written as part of individual assignment series for Feature Writing class)

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