Tanzania Mourns the Passing of Agricultural Research Titan, Dr. Geoffrey Mkamilo

Kilimokwanza.org Team

In a solemn announcement, the newly appointed Director General of the Tanzania Agriculture Research Institute (TARI), Dr. Thomas Bwana, has expressed deep sorrow over the passing of TARI’s former Director General, Dr. Geoffrey Mkamilo.

Dr. Mkamilo’s death occurred on March 02, 2024, at the Benjamin Mkapa Hospital in Dodoma. Preparations for his funeral are underway, with the schedule to be released by the Ministry of Agriculture.

Dr. Mkamilo’s legacy extends beyond his research, as he was also a distinguished educator in the agricultural sector. His work published/co-published on ResearchGate, with 61 publications, over 18,000 reads, and 1,257 citations, showcases his commitment to spreading knowledge and fostering innovation. Through his educational endeavours, Dr Mkamilo played a crucial role in mentoring the next generation of scientists, ensuring the continuous advancement of agricultural practices and science. For more on his educational impact and research contributions, I recommend visiting his ResearchGate profile.

Dr. Mkamilo’s tenure at TARI was marked by significant contributions to agricultural research and development, making his loss deeply felt across the scientific and agricultural community in Tanzania. The institute is now faced with the task of continuing its vital work in agricultural research under the new leadership of Dr. Bwana, who is committed to advancing the legacy of his predecessor and furthering the institute’s mission.

The entire TARI community has extended its condolences to the family, friends, and colleagues of Dr. Mkamilo during this difficult time. Further details regarding the funeral arrangements will be communicated in due course. The agricultural sector mourns the loss of a distinguished leader whose work has left an indelible mark on Tanzania’s agricultural landscape.

Before he was appointed to lead TARI, Dr. Mkamilo, was the coordinator for Root and Tuber Crops Research in Tanzania, presents on the importance of cassava in Tanzania and the challenges of improving productivity.

He was the Board Chair of ASARECA and, in his role as director general, was a member of the SAGCOT Annual General Meeting. The members of SAGCOT Center Limited comprise the three founding organizations which are the Agriculture Council of Tanzania (ACT), Confederation of Tanzania Industries (CTI), and Tanzania Agricultural Research Institute (TARI).

James Legg, a plant virologist at IITA, last year during the AGRF summit in Dar es Salaam, described him as, “Dr. Geoffrey Mkamilo is the dynamic, hard-working & gracious Director General for the Tanzania Agricultural Research Institute. He has played a key role as a breeder & now Director in transforming cassava value chains through research in Tanzania.”

Dr. Thomas Bwana officially took over from Dr. Mkamilo as the Director General of TARI following a handover ceremony on February 20, 2024, at the TARI headquarters in Makutupora, Dodoma. After the tenure of Dr. Mkamilo came to a close, Dr. Bwana was appointed to this position by the President of the United Republic of Tanzania, Dr. Samia Suluhu Hassan, on February 03, 2024, marking a new chapter in the leadership of the institute.

ome of Dr. Geoffrey Mkamilo’s works, along with a brief description for each:

  1. Candidate Genes for Field Resistance to Cassava Brown Streak Disease Revealed Through the Analysis of Multiple Data Sources (Article, Nov 2023) by Morag E. Ferguson, Rodney P. Eyles, Ana Luisa Garcia-Oliveira, and Geoffrey Mkamilo: The research identifies potential genes for resistance against cassava brown streak disease, underlining cassava’s role in climate change resilience and biodegradable manufacturing.
  2. Collection, Genotyping, and Virus Elimination of Cassava Landraces from Tanzania and Documentation of Farmer Knowledge (Article, Aug 2021) by Morag Ferguson, Silver Tumwegamire, Charity Chidzanga, and Geoffrey Mkamilo: This work documents the collection and genotyping of cassava landraces in Tanzania, emphasizing the importance of traditional varieties and farmer knowledge in the crop’s resilience.
  3. Managing Cassava Growth on Nutrient-Poor Soils Under Different Water Stress Conditions (Article, Jun 2021) by Matema Imakumbili, Ernest Semu, Johnson Semoka, and Geoffrey Mkamilo: The study explores the impact of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium fertilization on cassava growth under various water stress conditions, highlighting the need for targeted agronomic interventions.
  4. Adaptability and Phenotypic Stability of Resistance to Two Viral Diseases and Yield Traits in Cassava (Article, Jan 2021) by Bernadetta Kimata, Emily Masinde Atieno, Festo Masisila, and Geoffrey Mkamilo: Focusing on the identification of cassava genotypes that combine disease resistance with high yield, this research addresses challenges posed by cassava mosaic disease (CMD) and cassava brown streak disease (CBSD).
  5. Genetic Analysis and QTL Mapping for Multiple Biotic Stress Resistance in Cassava (Article, Aug 2020) by Ana Luisa Garcia-Oliveira, Bernadetha Kimata, Salum Kasele, Morag Ferguson, and Geoffrey Mkamilo: This article delves into the genetic underpinnings of cassava’s resistance to diseases and pests, particularly CMD and CBSD, providing insights into breeding strategies for resilience.
  6. Effect of Time of Harvesting and Disease Resistance in Reducing Cassava (Manihot esculenta Crantz) Yield Losses by Two Viral Diseases (Article, May 2020) by Maruthi M. N. Gowda, Bernadetta Kimata, Emily Masinde Atieno, and Geoffrey Mkamilo: The study examines how delayed harvesting and disease resistance can mitigate yield losses caused by CMD and CBSD, offering strategies for improved cassava cultivation.
  7. Genotype by Environment Cultivar Evaluation for Cassava Brown Streak Disease Resistance in Tanzania (Article, May 2020) by Rudolph Shirima, James Peter Legg, Daniel G. Maeda, Edward Eneah Kanju, and Geoffrey Mkamilo: This research evaluates cassava cultivars for resistance to CBSD across different environments in Tanzania, contributing to the development of resilient cassava varieties.
  8. Plant Tissue Analysis as a Tool for Predicting Fertilizer Needs for Low Cyanogenic Glucoside Levels in Cassava Roots: An Assessment of Its Possible Use (Article, Feb 2020) by Matema Imakumbili, Ernest Semu, Johnson Semoka, and Geoffrey Mkamilo: Investigating plant tissue analysis as a means to achieve low cyanogenic glucoside levels in cassava, this work emphasizes the importance of nutrient management for crop quality.
  9. Cyanogenic Glucoside Production in Cassava: The Comparable Influences of Varieties, Soil Moisture Content, and Nutrient Supply (Preprint, May 2019) by Matema Imakumbili, Ernest Semu, Johnson Semoka, and Geoffrey Mkamilo: Focusing on the agronomic factors influencing cyanogenic glucoside production in cassava, this study highlights the roles of variety selection, soil moisture, and nutrient supply.
  10. Soil Nutrient Adequacy for Optimal Cassava Growth, Implications on Cyanogenic Glucoside Production: A Case of Konzo-Affected Mtwara Region, Tanzania (Article, May 2019) by Matema Imakumbili, Ernest Semu, Johnson Semoka, and Geoffrey Mkamilo: Examining soil nutrient levels in konzo-affected regions, this research discusses the link between soil fertility, cassava growth, and cyanogenic glucoside production.
  11. Farmers’ Perceptions on the Causes of Cassava Root Bitterness: A Case of Konzo-Affected Mtwara Region, Tanzania (Article, Apr 2019) by Matema Imakumbili, Ernest Semu, Johnson Semoka, and Geoffrey Mkamilo: This article explores local farmers’ insights into the factors contributing to increased cyanogenic glucoside levels in cassava, beyond water stress conditions.