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Photo of Martin Ndabikunze Shem

Martin Ndabikunze Shem

Professor Emeritus, Sokoine University of Agriculture (SUA)

Tanzania

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

Martin Ndabikunze Shem has demonstrated an impressive commitment to demonstrating how theories learned at agricultural universities can be put into use to immediately help improve the living conditions and increase productivity of smallholder farmers. Frustrated by the continued lack of practical orientation of the SUA degree programs, due in part to dwindling operational and infrastructural development funds, Martin took an early retirement in 2012 to run a very successful large -scale mixed farm—1,080 ha in Morogoro Region (http://www.mgololeagroltd.com). His dream is to help agricultural students, young graduates, smallholder and medium commercial farmers to learn agriculture practically and he intends to do this by entering into formal agreements with AET institutions.  His “Commercial Farm Hub” business model recently won his company a grant and an interest free loan from the Africa Enterprise Challenge Fund (AECF).

What motivated you to pursue a career in agriculture?

  • As I looked around in my youth, I could only see “agriculture”. I concluded that in order to improve my family’s livelihood, the solution would need to come from the adoption and use of improved agricultural technologies and practices to improve farm productivity and farmer’s livelihoods. 

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

  • Enable graduates to make full use of the knowledge already existing and proven at national, regional or global level. 
  • Increase the ability of graduates to conduct knowledge prospecting (i.e. the searching, identifying, adapting and diffusing knowledge and technologies) from all sources including farmers. 
  • Expand the participation of graduates to do applied practical research because agri-business enterprises are the most critical loci where learning and research significant to innovation, can take place.

Career highlights

  • Executive Managing Director, Mgolole Agro-processing Company, Morogoro, Tanzania.
  • Director General, – Rwanda Agriculture Board (RAB), Rwanda.
  • Senior Scientist, Government of Rwanda/World Bank, Rural Sector Support Project)/Institut Sciences Agronomiques du Rwanda (ISAR), Rwanda.
  • Professor, Department of Animal Science and Production, Sokoine University of Agriculture.

Educational background

  • Primary school:                     
    • Kimuli Primary School, Karagwe, Kagera Region, Tanzania.
  • Secondary school:                 
    • Omumwani TAPA Secondary School, Bukoba, Kagera Region, Tanzania.
  • University:     
    • BSc General Agriculture (Hons), University of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, 1981.
    • MSc, Animal Nutrition, University of Guelph, Canada, 1986.
    • PhD, Animal Nutrition, University of Aberdeen, Scotland, UK, 1993.