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Jacob Mwale

Executive Director, Grain Traders Association of Zambia

Zambia

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

Jacob Mwale is a highly effective agribusiness leader in Zambia.  As Executive Director of the Grain Traders Association, he has served as an honest broker and a key player in maintaining an ongoing open and constructive dialogue among government, traders and millers over contentious policy issues related to export controls, domestic stocks and cereal prices.  In his earlier work at Agriflora, he was instrumental developing an effective, commercially viable outgrower scheme through which smallholders gained access to lucrative horticultural export markets. 

While working as a manager at the Programme Against Malnutrition (PAM), he brought sound management practices to food security pack distribution.  Throughout his career, he has succeeded in applying sound management practices in ways that support agricultural and agribusiness growth. 

What motivated you to pursue a career in agriculture?

  • My career in agriculture started with a finance background. In early 1993 I started working for Programme Against Malnutrition (PAM) as accountant and later on was promoted to Finance and Administration Manager. During that time I was part of the team that implemented the relief pack to the people affected with poor yield due to floods, or drought.  Later on PAM introduced the Food Security Pack that included seed, fertilizer in order for the vulnerable households to get engaged into agricultural activities. As a man in finance I was supposed to understand the all the operations and field activities in order to do proper costing. It was during that time that I began to understand issues related to crop production cycles, poverty and nutritional aspects of vulnerable group welfare.  This is how I became interested in agricultural related activities.

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

  • There is currently a gap between the expectations in the industry and the skills students learn in universities and colleges.  Students face a challenge understanding what the industry work implies and requires.  Training institutions need to continuously expose students to the needs of industry.
  • Provide career talks to students so they can chose what career they want to take. This has to be done early enough as that will enable students to choose careers.
  • Motivation talks from top performers from the industry should be encouraged as that will improve student understanding of the agribusiness industry.

Career highlights

  • Executive Director, Grain Traders Association of Zambia.
  • Secretary, Fertilizer Association of Zambia.
  • Agribusiness Advisor, Zambia Trade and Investment Enhancement (ZAMTIE) Project.
  • Project Director for Outgrowers, Agriflora.  
  • Finance and Administration Manager, Programme Against Malnutrition.

Educational background

  • Primary school:                     
    • Lotus Primary School
  • Secondary school:     
    • Kabulonga Secondary School           
  • Post-Secondary:        
    • Accounts Technician, Institute of Management, Marketing and Accounting           
    • ACCA accredited chartered accountant