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Gelson Tembo

Senior Lecturer, Department of Agricultural Economics, University of Zambia

Zambia

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

Gelson Tembo motivates and inspires his students through his professionalism and the high standards he imposes on himself and his students.  He has conducted research on a wide range of important topics, including food security and price stability in Southern and Eastern Africa, market development and trade in the Southern African region, the status and potential of farmer organizations as vehicles for smallholder participation, agricultural market development in Zambia, and improving vulnerability and nutrition assessments in Zambia.  He has served as a resource person for Southern African Development Community (SADC), the African Conservation Tillage Network (ACT) and the Regional Hunger and Vulnerability Programme (RHVP). 

What motivated you to pursue a career in agriculture?

  • I was born and grew up on a large-scale commercial farm in the Mkushi Farm Block. The farm is owned by David Street, a white commercial farmer. As a school boy, I sometimes worked on the farm and even learnt to drive tractors.  I admired the farm setting and the comfortable life that the owners led so much that I decided I would pursue a career in agriculture, with the hope that eventually I would also own and run a commercial farm.

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

  • Schools need to equip students with very strong quantitative grounding. Quantitative skills such as decision modeling, simulations and econometric analysis should be strongly present in the toolkit of every graduate.
  • These skills, coupled with a very strong understanding of theory and institutions will make the graduates very effective participants in and primary contributors to the policy debates and business decisions.
  • This quantitative grounding should start early in the training programs.
  • Specializations should start early in one’s academic life. This is only possible if the students are exposed to different areas of specialization early. Equipped with all such information, they could make informed decisions as to what they want to be. Specialization should then start shortly after that. 

 Career highlights

  • Senior Lecturer, Department of Agricultural Economics, University of Zambia.
  • Executive Director, Palm Associates Limited.
  • Research Fellow, Food Security Research Project, Michigan State University, Lusaka, Zambia.
  • Agricultural Economist, Policy and Planning Division, Ministry of Agriculture; seconded to the Southern Province Farming Systems Research Team (FSRT-SP), Ministry of Agriculture, Choma, Zambia.

Educational background

  • Primary school:                     
    • Pilse Primary School, Mkushi
    • Chinika Primary School, Lusaka
    • Libala Primary School
  • Secondary school:                 
    • Hilcrest Technical Secondary School, Livingstone, Zambia
    • Highridge Secondary School, Kabwe, Zambia
  • University:     
    • B.Sc. Agricultural Economics (1988-93), University of Zambia
    • M.Sc. Agricultural Economics (1996-98), Oklahoma State University
    • Ph.D. Agricultural Economics, minor in Statistics (2000), Oklahoma State University