Developing Technology Innovators for the 21st Century

Developing Technology Innovators for the 21st Century

Many Tanzanian farmers lack knowledge about and access to appropriate grain storage technologies. This results in post-harvest losses ranging from 20-30%.

In a recent interview Paschal Milinde emphasized “the need to address post-harvest loss as a way to enable Tanzanian farmers to increase their incomes. Better storage facilities translate into more edible cereal grains and the opportunity to sell surplus grains when market prices are higher.” He also noted that “the reduction of post-harvest losses ultimately contributes to greater national food security and shared prosperity.”

pascal-milindiHe focused his research on a device to reduce post-harvest losses of smallholder farmers, who make up the vast majority of those involved in agriculture in Tanzania although he noted that the technology is largely scale neutral since all farmers potentially have access to it.

Paschal recently completed his M.S. degree at the Ohio State University under the iAGRI program. His program of study was based primarily at the Agricultural Research and Development Center of Ohio State University under the supervision of Dr. Ajay Shah, a member of the Department of Food, Agricultural, and Biological Engineering.

He recalled having had to overcome major challenges while undertaking his studies in the US. Many related to differences in the way teaching and learning are done.

“I had to take charge of my own learning,” he said. He also affirmed that “we tend not to grow when things are easy, rather we grow when we are faced with challenges. So I never had any other option than coping since I loved what I was doing,’’ he explained.

He acknowledged the mentoring he received at Sokoine University of Agriculture (SUA) during his undergraduate program. “Beyond that, Prof. Valerian Silayo from SUA’s Department of Agricultural Engineering and Land Planning served as my former supervisor inspired me to fulfill my dreams,’’ he added.

Upon his return to Tanzania, Pascal maintained contact with the iAGRI Project Management Unit (PMU). He has been encouraged by its staff to conduct further research and develop a prototype that can be transferred to the private sector for reproduction and sale to farmers. His technology is part of the Innovation Portfolio promoted by iAGRI at SUA.

Pascal indicated that he continues to seek opportunities to apply the knowledge and experience gained through his MS degree program to the Tanzanian agriculture sector. His aspiration is to work in a university environment on these problems because this will also give him the opportunity to work with students on the solution of post-harvest issues faced by Tanzanian farmers.

“I would like to thank iAGRI for having given me this growth opportunity,” he noted. I have learned how to write proposals, to manage research projects, to present and discuss scientific results, to solve problems, and to lead. I was also able to develop important new networks as part of my graduate experience in the USA.”