Professor Kanyama-Phiri joined the Crop Production Department in 1975. From 1975 to 1976 and from 1981 to 1984 he served as Departmental Coordinator of Annual Field Days, Youth Week Projects and the Pasture and Crop Museum. From 1990 to 1991 he served as the Acting Head of the Crop Production Department. From 1995 to 2000 he served as Dean of the Faculty of Agriculture. From 2000 to 2008 he served for two terms as Principal of Bunda College of Agriculture. He is currently the Vice Chancellor of Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources (LUANAR) a position he has served since 2012. He is also the current Board Chairman of the Regional Universities Forum for Capacity Building in Agriculture (RUFORUM).
Academically, Professor Kanyama-Phiri was awarded a Freshman Academic Scholarship Award by the Alpha kappa MU Academic Honour Society in 1978. In the same year, he was included in the 44th Edition of who is who among Students in American Universities and Colleges for maintaining a perfect Cumulative Grade Point Average (GPA) of 4.0. In the year 2000 the International Biographical Centre, Cambridge, England, included him among 2000 outstanding intellectuals of the 21st Century Order of Excellence for his outstanding contributions in the fields of Agronomy and Agroforestry. In the following year, he was recognized by the American Biographical Institute as being among the great minds of the 21st Century.
Professionally Professor Kanyama Phiri rose from the grades of Teaching Assistant (1975-1976) through lecturer (1984-1980), Senior Lecturer (1982-1998), Associate Professor (1998-2001) and Full Professor (2001). He has published 32 articles in refereed journals, 20 in conference proceedings, 10 in research bulletins and 15 in technical bulletins. In addition, Professor Kanyama-Phiri has 3 book chapter contributions and 3 monographs.