Meet Maryam Muzamir, the 11-year-old inventor who made international headlines

11 Feb 2022 10:49am
Bona fide inventor Maryam Muzamir posing with the awards she bagged for her invention YAM 2.0, alongside her father, mother, and younger sister.
Bona fide inventor Maryam Muzamir posing with the awards she bagged for her invention YAM 2.0, alongside her father, mother, and younger sister.

SHAH ALAM - Maryam Muzamir made international headlines last year when she bagged not one, but three awards for her invention of sustainable livestock feed.

Her invention, called YAM2.0: Sustainable Livestock Feed, was made out of recycled food waste (prawn shells and sea snail shells).

This stroke of brilliance landed her the Best Young Inventor Award, the Canadian Special Award, as well as a gold medal at the 6th International Invention Innovation Competition in Canada (iCAN).

More than 600 participants from 70 countries competed. She was among the youngest to have won an award.

In an interview with Sinar Daily, the Standard 5 student at Methodist Girls primary school spoke of how overwhelming it was at first to garner worldwide attention.

"Succeeding was never something that crossed my mind.

"All I wanted was to invent something that could help people and solve a preexisting issue," she said.

According to her, it felt great to put Malaysia on the map nonetheless.

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Maryam's interest in science stemmed from her obsession with the show 'The Big Bang Theory', which she often watches with her father.

She became increasingly fascinated with the idea of being a scientist and took the initiative to educate herself on matters most children her age do not think twice about.

The self-professed introvert shared that the idea to invent a better alternative to available conventional livestock feed started back in 2019, when news coverage revolved around the increasing price of livestock feed as well as livestock.

Fast forward to this year, the problem still remains. This, she said, was the problem she wanted to address.

After consulting her father on the issue, she set out to work.

The first thing she did was surf the internet for more information on the matter.

It wasn't until a meal at a famous seafood restaurant in Kuantan did the lightbulb in her click.

"Most of these shells, after having been eaten by customers, were all thrown away," she said.

A simple Google search led her to an understanding that would later on gain her international recognition. These shells contain chitin and several other nutrients, all of which make for quality livestock feed.

Several experimentations and trial-and-error phases later, YAM 2.0 was finally formulated.

It was, however, not without its challenges. Maryam told Sinar Daily that the pandemic also took its toll on her invention process like obtaining more resources, due to travel restrictions.

"Restaurants were also closed then, which made it hard to collect raw materials. It was impossible to build a prototype," the 11-year-old confessed.

That did nothing to stop her, and she kept moving forward.

Winning in major competitions gave Maryam the confidence to patent her product, but the only thing holding her back from doing so was the expensive cost.

The success of her invention resulted in Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Minister Datuk Seri Alexander Nanta Linggi jumping in to declare a contribution of about RM10,000 from his ministry to the filing of the patent.

With food security issues plaguing the supply chain industry right now, her invention could not have come at a better time.

"I hope that this product of mine will one day stabilise the price of livestock and poultry, as well as reduce food wastage in the country," she added.

YAM 2.0 is sustainable, cheap, and locally made but her father, Assoc Prof Dr Muzamir Hasan explained that the mass production of the livestock feed will require a huge investment, time and commitment.

Due to Maryam's young age, he believes that it would be unfair to put that burden on her shoulders for the time being.

It does not, however, change the fact that he is extremely proud of her and what she has accomplished.

In conjunction with International Day of Women and Girls in Science this year, Sinar Daily asked Maryam what advice she had in store for other young girls who aspire to contribute to the field of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM).

“Your gender should have nothing to do with whether or not you are able to contribute to the field.

"What matters is passion, and your ability to adapt to constant changes. Excelling in the subjects of Mathematics or Science - these are only a small part of a bigger whole," she said.

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