First iAGRI Scholar Completes PhD

First iAGRI Scholar Completes PhD

Dr. Boniface Massawe was the first iAGRI scholar to complete a PhD program. Although awarded a four year scholarship, he completed his program at Ohio State University in three years, graduating in August, 2015. His disciplinary specialization was soil science with a focus on crop production and land use planning using Geographic Information System technology.

Upon return to Tanzania Boniface has made good use of the knowledge gained in his program at Sokoine University of Agriculture. He represents a new generation of scientists and teachers in its college of agriculture. His appointment is in the Department of Soil and Geological Sciences. In a recent interview Dr. Massawe said the most important thing is transforming the knowledge earned in a new way of thinking in a bid to groom competent scientists who will bring the impact in agricultural sector in Tanzania.

“Through teaching activities I have managed to transform skills and knowledge I acquired during my PhD studies into practical application for both undergraduate and postgraduate students. In this way our graduates have the capability to impart advanced knowledge and skills to farmers, assess adverse effects on soil health and soil quality arising from nutrient imbalances in soil, excessive fertilization, consequences of environmental pollution, trace elements and organic amendments,” he explained. He further noted that he is optimistic about their ability to address developmental needs in the agricultural sector.

Apart from teaching and administrative duties Boniface has also apply his new knowledge through participation in different projects and consultations. He mentioned in particular his involvement in a multi-national research study.

“I am currently participating in a comprehensive collaborative research project dealing with Sustainable Agricultural Intensification in Zambia, Ethiopia and Tanzania. The Tanzanian focus is the Mbarali District in Mbeya region.”

The principal focus of this research is to balance food production concerns with concerns about preserving the ecological system on which it depends. Achievement of sustainable agriculture is one of his major overall research priorities. He noted that this particular project is concerned about how to maintain the economic stability of farms while focusing on appropriate use of modern farming technology and improvement of rural quality of life.

“Our team is monitoring and evaluating farmer what farmers would like to see on the ground. At the same time, we have been looking at the relative costs of sustainable agriculture technologies taking into account consumer concerns about agricultural product costs.”

Boniface highlighted several key attributes of his doctoral level training. He indicated that he benefited greatly from related exposure to a wide range of expertise. This included interaction with international scientists from different disciplines. Interactions with academic, government, and private industry research teams gave me the opportunity to appreciate and to learn how participate in interdisciplinary approaches to problem solution.”

Going forward, Boniface indicates that he will remain committed to using his expertise to optimize the use of existing land resources for development. And he will remain eternally grateful for his iAGRI scholarship. “My iAGRI scholarship, which represented funding from the American people, enabled me to become who I am today.”