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August Temu

Deputy Director General, International Center for Research in Agroforestry (ICRAF)


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

August Temu is passionate about agriculture, forestry, agroforestry and national resource development.  During his long and highly consequential career, he pioneered the creation of the African Network for Agriculture, Agroforestry and Natural Resources Education (ANAFE) in 1994 in Africa and the creation of the South-East Asian Network for Agroforestry Education (SEANAFE) in 1999.   As Deputy Director General of ICRAF, he has championed agroforestry research and improved farming practices across the world.  As a forester, he has influenced the development and management of forestry and agroforestry education in Africa and in many ways, globally.

What motivated you to pursue a career in agriculture and natural resources?

  • The environment I grew up in played a major role in what I am today.  There was a natural relationship between life and environment. The environment was a rugged mountainous landscape with deep rivers and geysers of fresh water.  Coffee, banana and trees dominated the agricultural landscape.  Looking back, this was a complete system with every aspect of livelihood. I could relate well to crops and trees.
  • During my early education, I realized that I became extremely interested in biology and this related to things I knew from childhood.  I came to learn about food, fiber and fuel.  All these related to natural systems which I was already very familiar with. 

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

  • Students should be guided and be informed about future opportunities so that they can align themselves properly and adequately from the start. This would be a way of making the learning more demand oriented. Many students do not know “where they are going”.
  • Agricultural training and education should operate more in a business environment. We need to inject new paradigms. Old fashioned styles are not relevant for the  responding to future demands.
  • Those teaching business-like courses should have six-month internships in real business, viable and successful firms. This would help them appreciate what they are teaching in class and hence avoid being too theoretical or abstract.  Unfortunately, many of those who teach business courses just rely on book knowledge information which is obviously not enough.
  • Make agricultural education broader to include the whole landscape. Meaningfully incorporate fields like water, energy and forestry.  Soils, livestock, crops and economics are simply not enough in creating a system’s thinking – so essential in inculcating sustainability into the minds of instructors and students.
  • Inculcate a “big picture thinking” for agriculture. What we think is “agriculture” is much more than farming. Initially, we thought that cellphones were simply for communication. But today it is more than that.  It is for banking as well!

 Career highlights

  • Deputy Director General, International Centre for Research in Agro-Forestry (ICRAF).
  • Scientist, International Centre for Research in Agro-Forestry (ICRAF).
  • Visiting Professor of Forestry, Chittagong University, Bangladesh.
  • Board of Directors, Tanzania Forestry Research Institute (TAFORI).
  • Founding Dean, Faculty of Forestry and Nature Conservation, Sokoine University of Agriculture.
  • Chair, Global Steering Committee on Forest and Farm Facility of FAO.

 Educational background

  • Primary:
    • Uomboni Primary School.
    • Chagga Council School, Marangu.
  • Secondary:
    • Moshi Indian Secondary School.
    • Mkwawa High School.
  • University:  
    • BSc, Forestry, Makerere University.
    • MSc, Forestry, University of Norway (Course Work) and University of Dar es Salaam (Thesis).
    • PhD, Forestry, University of California (Berkeley) and University of Aberdeen (experience) University of Dares Salaam  (Thesis).