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Dunstan Spencer

Sierra Leone National Policy Advisory Committee, Chair 1998 to 2004

Sierra Leone

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

Dunstan Spencer is one of a highly distinguished cadre of agricultural professionals from Sierra Leone who have made lasting contributions to both national and international institutions working to improve the productivity of African agriculture.  As a young scholar, he played a key role in the establishment of establish Njala College of Agriculture building on the Land Grant Model.  His early studies of food marketing and production systems across West Africa served to inform a generation of policy making and scientific research. 

Following a long and distinguished career at a string of Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) institutions – including IITA, ICRISAT, WARDA and IFPRI – he returned to Sierra Leone to chair the presidential National Policy Advisory Committee for six years.  More recently, his broad experience and international recognition have resulted in his membership on the Steering Committee of the G8’s Global Agriculture and Food Security Program (GAFSP). 

What motivated you to pursue a career in agriculture?

  • A 6th form biology teacher used local examples and a school garden to demonstrate the basic principles and power of biological sciences. 
  • Although I grew up in urban areas of Sierra Leone and Nigeria, I became fascinated with the potential of science to transform agriculture. 

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

  • Improve educational quality at all levels of schooling, including primary, secondary, vocational and university.
  •  Improve the quality of university graduates in Africa.  Today, we see too much mass production of BSc degrees, which leads to poor quality of our graduates.
  • We Africans need to do a better job motivating young people to consider careers in agriculture.  I find it disappointing that so many young people try to avoid careers in agriculture. 

Career highlights

  • Global Agriculture and Food Security Program (GAFSP), Steering Committee Member, 2010 to 2014.
  • Sierra Leone National Policy Advisory Committee Chair, 1998-2004.                  
  • Managing Director, Dunstan Spencer Associates.
  • International Center for Research in the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT), Principal Scientist.
  • West Africa Rice Development Agency (WARDA), Director of Research and Development.
  • International Institute of Tropical Agriculture, Director of the Resource and Crop Management Division.
  • Njala College of Agriculture, Lecturer.

Educational background

  • Primary school:          Buxton Primary School.
  • Secondary school:      Prince of Wales Secondary School, Freetown).
  • University:                 
    • BSc General Agriculture, Wye College, London University.
    • MSc and PhD in Agricultural Economics with minor in Animal Science, University of Illinois.