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Agricultural scientist wants Africa to chart own science path

Renown Agricultural science researcher and industrialist Prof. Vasey Mwaja wants accomplished scholars to help upcoming scientists in developing interests in pursuing modern science to solve challenges unique to African continent.
“Science is among the humanity’s greatest achievement having transformed not only the material conditions of our lives but the very way in which we view the world,” Said Prof. Mwaja
Prof. Mwaja who spoke recently during a public lecture at the Technical University of Kenya (TU-K) emphasised on the need of universities, and research institutions helping in solving challenges facing scientists in Africa; this covering infrastructure, research centers and scientists both established and young scholars.
“Young scientists learn about the methods and values of scientific research from personal contact with more experienced scientists and such interactions remain the best way for scientists to absorb what is still largely tacit code of professional conduct. The beginning scientists should work closely with experienced scientists to promote scientific education,” Prof. Mwaja said.
Prof. Mwaja also noted that Science is a wide-ranging effort that naturally crosses borders, and so scientist-to-scientist collaboration can promote goodwill at grass-roots.


He added: “Experienced scientists should pass on to younger scientists a sense of the methods and norms of science to increase contribution to the scientific field progress.”
Currently, Prof. Mwaja is the President and Chairman of the Board at Secure Capital Investments as well as an expert and professor of biostatistics and crop physiology.
The public lecture themed; ‘On Being a Scientist in Africa’ brought together students and teaching staff. It was organised by the School of Graduate and Advanced Studies led by Prof. Joseph Lalah.
Some of the senior university staff who attended the lecture include Faculty of Engineering and Built Environment (FEBE) Executive Dean Prof. Edwin O. Ataro, School of Information Director Prof. Tom Kwanya among other university staff members.
Prof. Mwaja noted that continued research and innovative ways of handling emerging challenges faced by society will ensure successful growth, especially when indigenous scholars with understanding of African society and challenges build up innate knowledge custody.
Prof. Mwaja noted that innovative scientific involvements need to be embraced to be able to handle emerging and fragile aspects in the society.
“Modern science while strong in many ways is also fragile in important respects. Most people see strong science as being essential to a successful future,” said Prof. Mwaja adding that generous social support is based on the premise that science will be done honestly and that mistakes will be routinely identified and corrected.
He added that; being a scientist requires visionary, highly focused, decisive and flexible individuals with strong interpersonal communication, superior leadership and administrative skills.
“This is what we strive to impart on young scientists in our universities and institutions of higher learning. Being a successful scientist in Africa requires understanding of the many challenges one encounters,” said Prof. Mwaja adding that scientists in Africa need to chart own courses.
Prof Mwaja further highlighted important scientific principles that scientists in Africa encounter as they pursue scientific research including; treatment of data, the relationship between hypothesis and observations, scientific methods and their limitations.

 

He elaborated on the value of science hypothesis, peer recognition and priority of discovery as well as social mechanisms in science. “Scientific research takes place within a broad social and historical context, which gives substance, direction, and ultimately, increasing to the work of individual scientists,” He noted. Digital revolution and science also formed Prof. Mwaja’s discussion. He said that digital revolution in agriculture is rooted in two types of technologies including; integration of spatial and temporal data and genomics. This is achieved through various technologies such as Information Communication and Technology (ICT), satellite imagery as well as global unique identifiers that are unlocking new crop varieties and animal breeds at an unprecedented rate. “Today we can stitch together location and time data, allowing us to make more informed decisions and interventions, increasing value chain speed and efficiency; these technologies leveraging our competencies such as integrated breeding platforms (IBP),” He concluded.