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Photo of Adipala Ekwamu

Adipala Ekwamu

Executive Director, Regional Universities Forum

Uganda

What most impressed the professional colleagues who nominated this role model?

Adipala Ekwamu is a distinguished scientist with a passion for agriculture, the discipline and training to excel as a researcher, the compassion and interest to channel his energy into training young African scientists and the management and leadership skills to project these efforts across a network of forty-plus African universities. As a young researcher, he developed three new cowpea and two soybean varieties. Exhibiting uncommon vision and energy, he founded the African Crop Science Journal and African Crop Science Society. 

As the Executive Director of RUFORUM, he has proven to be a highly effective advocate for higher education in Africa and a tireless promoter of scientific dissemination and networking among African scholars across the continent.  He serves as a leader and a role model for a generation of students and colleagues alike. 

What motivated you to pursue a career in agriculture?

  • I had three choices during admission from High School. I was admitted to Makerere University for a BSc. in Agriculture. In addition, I also had two other admissions; one in Medicine at the University of Ibadan in Nigeria and another in Veterinary Medicine in Botswana - all under the Common Wealth Funding scholarship. During my upper secondary school I had a dream to become a Bio-chemist.  However, I had passion for agriculture and as such I opted for a BSc. in Agriculture at Makerere University.
  • Among the persons who motivated me was Prof. Emechebe, a Nigerian Professor teaching Mycology. Prof. Emechebe was passionate about the subject, teaching about mushrooms and how they grow.  In addition he was very eloquent and charismatic. It is from the character and the way this professor taught and conducted class that motivated me to fall in love with the field of mycology as a career worth pursuing. I was further motivated by a series of outstanding professors who inspired me to pursue a career in agriculture and become the mycologist (fungal specialist) that I am today.

How can agricultural education institutions more effectively prepare African students for successful agribusiness careers? 

  • Education institutions need to present or re-package agriculture differently – “Agriculture is more than digging” thus the need to explain to young professionals the diversity of agriculture and a wide array of available opportunities that agriculture and agribusiness has to offer as a career.
  • Agricultural training institutions need to get more professional role models, such as Ms. Josephine Okot of Victoria Seeds, and Hon. Ogenga Latigo to speak and motivate the young would-be agricultural professionals.
  • Institutions should provide an environment that nurtures academicians to be able to communicate their findings, for example, through society forums for graduate students in which you invite professional special guest speakers to guide students and mentor them.
  • There’s a general need by trainers at the various institutions to consider students as a resource not a burden especially during BSc. and MSc. supervision.
  • At the different training institutions there should be a deliberate drive aimed at giving exposure to our graduate students to be able to embrace opportunities in the agriculture realm.
  • There is an urgent need by the government, institutions and other stakeholders to invest more in agriculture education and agribusinesses, owing to the fact that food is the future driver of any economy. Thus the need to recognize that the agriculture market has changed and thus the training needs as well need to change to be in sync or respond to the changing market demands.

Career highlights

  • Chief Executive, Regional Universities Forum (RUFORUM, www.ruforum.org ). 
  • Founder and Editor in Chief, the African Crop Science Journal.
  • President, of African Crop Science Society.
  • Member Board of Directors: Uganda National Council for Science and Technology, Uganda National Agricultural Research Organization, and the International Foundation for Science.
  • Professor, Faculty of Agriculture, Makerere University.

Educational background

  • Primary:             Kakure Primary School.    
  • Junior School:    Holy Angels College, Soroti.
  • Secondary:          Namilyango College.
  • University:
    • B.Sc. in Agriculture, Makerere University, 1976.
    • M.Sc. in Agriculture, Makerere University, 1980.
    • PhD in Plant Pathology, The Ohio State University, 1992.