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Wilfred Mwangi

Principal Scientist, CIMMYT

Kenya

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

Wilfred Mwangi is a highly versatile professional – a skilled scientist, an effective teacher, a good manager and a strong leader.  In recognition of his considerable technical and management skills, the Kenyan government appointed him to high-level positions in the Ministries of Agriculture and Energy, as well as a stint as Chairman of the National Cereals and Produce Board.  As a teacher for many years at the University of Nairobi, he has trained a generation of students who now occupy key positions throughout the East Africa region. 

He recently capped a distinguished career at CIMMYT by serving as project leader for the Drought Tolerant Maize for Africa (DTMA) program, a position which required considerable diplomatic as well as technical skills to coordinate professional staff across multiple institutions. 

Wilfred M. Mwangi passed away unexpectedly on 11 December, 2014. The sub-Saharan African agricultural community mourns this loss.  View a CIMMYT announcment Honoring the Life and Legacy of Wilfred Mwangi, CIMMYT Agricultural Economist.

What motivated you to pursue a career in agriculture?

  • My father worked for East African Railways transferred from one location to another. I therefore never grew up on farm until he retired.
  • When I was in high school, we had a teacher called Belshaw who had a brother lecturing in Agricultural Economics at Makerere University. The brother came and talked to us about Agricultural Economics and I got interested in this field.  So I joined Makerere University for Bachelor’s degree in Economics specializing in Agricultural Economics. I developed the career further up to PhD level in Agricultural Economics.

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

  • Make programs dynamic.  The programs should be regularly reviewed and revised to fit the dynamic market. For example, making IT part of agriculture curriculum.
  • Consider what attracts young men and women into agriculture and incorporate it in the curriculum. Make the training exciting and make it move with the times. 
  • Farm practice should be part and parcel of the training. Universities may not have enough resources but students need hands on training on farm setting. However, the practicals must be made interesting and attractive.
  • Field attachments should be emphasized.
  • Teach the students on how to become competitive. Give them the necessary skills to make them self employed

Career highlights

  • Principal Scientist, CIMMYT.
  • Chair Board of Directors, National Cereals and Produce Board.
  • Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Energy.
  • Deputy Permanent Secretary and Director of Agriculture and Livestock.
  • Regional Economist, International Maize and Wheat Research Institute (CIMMYT).
  • Associate Professor, Agricultural Economics, the University of Nairobi.
  • Junior Research, Institute for Development Studies, University of Nairobi.
  • Loan Officer, Agricultural Finance Corporation (Nairobi).

Educational background

  • Primary:
    • Alliance High School.
  • Secondary:       
    • Alliance High School.
  • University:
    •  BA, Economics and Rural Economy, Makerere University.
    • MA, Agricultural Economics, Michigan State University, USA.
    • PhD, Agricultural Economics, Michigan State University, USA.