? Brief Biography of Professor Tekalign Mamo
Prof. Tekalign Mamo, a 1985 graduate in soil chemistry and fertility from University of Aberdeen in Scotland, bears many mantles of a successful researcher, academician and leader. Prior to his role as State Minister and Advisor to the Minister of Agriculture between November 2010 and September 2015, he has served as Advisor (with the rank of State Minister) to the then Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Agriculture (2005-2010) , State Minister of Agriculture (204-2005)-, Vice President of Haramaya University (2004), and senior researcher and Director of research at Debre Zeit (1985-1999).
He has published over 85 scientific publications and book chapters (focusing on soil chemistry and fertility, crop nutrition, land management and soil nutrient assessment techniques) in peer-reviewed journals locally and abroad. He is also the founder and first Editor-in-Chief of the Ethiopian Journal of Natural Resources (EJNR). He has taught graduate courses and advised dozens of graduate students locally and abroad. Major awards and honors he received include: Special Global Abassador of UN FAO for 2015 International Year of Soils, Honorary Member of Ethiopian Soil Science Society, Swiss Trans-disciplinarity Award, Professorship from Haramaya University and Certificate of Recognition and Gold Medal Award for Meritorious Achievements in Agricultural Research. Lately in 2014, he has also won the 2014 Yara Prize for contributing to the advancement of Green Revolution in Africa, Certificate of life time significant contribution to the advancement of soil fertility research from International Potash Institute, and diploma and trophy for excellent achievement from the Ethiopian Agricultural Transformation Agency.
In addition to being the founding fellow of the Ethiopian Academy of Sciences (EAS) and member since 2010, between 2011 and 2013 he has also served as Commissioner in the Global Commission dealing with Climate Change, Food Security and Agriculture (CCAFS) established by the Consultative Group for International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) who produced a policy document for world leaders and presented it at the 2012 Durban Climate Change Conference. As a Commissioner, he has also served as a panelist in major conferences, or gave briefings in press conferences and stressed the need for climate smart agriculture. In 2013, Prof. Mamo was also selected by the General Assembly of the Global Soil Partnership (GSP) coordinated by the UNFAO as a member of the 27 world leading experts to serve in the first Intergovernmental Technical Panel on Soils (ITPS), whose tasks, among many, include the revision of the World Soil Charter, preparation of the World Status Report on Soils, and preparing prioritized key global soil strategies. His latest recognition in 2014 also includes nomination to represent Africa in the Global Working Group of the Nutrient Stewardship under the International Fertilizer Industry Association. His latest recognition include being nominated as the recipient of the 2015 Ethiopian Society of Soil Science (ESSS) General Assembly Award for outstanding contribution to the advancement of soil science research and development in Ethiopia and beyond and also has won the 2016 International Fertilizer Industry Association (IFA) Norman Borlaug Award for his outstanding contribution to improving soil health and natural resources bases in Ethiopia, benefiting over 11 million smallholder farmers.
During his decade-long service with the Ministry of Agriculture, he has managed to organize the development of the Community Based Participatory Watershed Development (CBPWD) Strategy that has been the tool for the massive rehabilitation of degraded lands in the country. In 2006, he also recommended and developed a proposal for the launching of national acid soil management program (a national issue that was not prioritized or addressed until then) which is also among the key national soil fertility replenishment initiatives being scaled up in the country. In 2010, he developed a prioritized five-year soil health and fertility management roadmap for the Ministry of Agriculture and this was endorsed and has been implemented by the Government since 2011. Two key components of the Roadmap are the National Soil Fertility Mapping and Fertilizer Blending Projects, which were endorsed and immediately launched with his overall supervision and leadership in partnership with key stakeholders, mainly the Agricultural Transformation Agency (ATA) and Regional Bureaus of Agriculture, to name a few. To date, the Soil Fertility Mapping Project has completed mapping in 333 woredas in the country, of which Tigray is already completed, and Amhara and SNNPR will be completed in the coming 3 months. Through this national initiative in which enormous national soil resource information database, digital data processing capacity and modern infrastructure are being built, the country could also switch to 6 new fertilizers (5 blended and 1 compound fertilizers) in 162 mapped woredas, thus replacing the DAP fertilizer that has been in use for over four and half decades. Recently, based on the completed soil fertility map for Tigray region, 7 fertilizers (3 from the previous 6 and 4 new) were recommended for the region (thus increasing the total number of recommended fertilizers to 10. To value add to the initiative, 5 blended fertilizer manufacturing plants are also being established in the country; of these, one has already been inaugurated and started producing the blended fertilizers. The rest are expected to start operation by early December 2014. The other expected outcome of the ongoing work will be the revamping of the fertilizer advisory service in the country and the anticipated increase in agricultural production and productivity by many folds in the next few years.
Prof. Tekalign’s achievements are not only these. Beginning 2011, he has taken initiatives to introduce up to 15 new fertilizers in the country (almost 95 percent through donation) in order to demonstrate them to farmers and also engage close to 30 graduate students in their validation process. Through this, about 4million farmers have received orientation about the new fertilizers and it did not even require the extension system to convince the farmers to use the newly recommended fertilizers. In the soil fertility mapping g work about 20 local students are engaged for their Masters and doctoral research, thus ensuring knowledge transfer. When Prof. Tekalign got appointed by late PM in 2010 and moved to the Ministry, he was the only soil fertility expert-cum state minister. Today, thanks to his unreserved efforts, two parallel directorates (with about 51 expert positions) have been established in the Ministry to handle Soil Fertility and Soil Fertility Mapping activities. In addition, each of the four regions is informed to establish a Soil Fertility and Soil Resource Information Directorate at regional level. At the same time, Prof. Tekalign advises about 15 Masters and Doctoral degree students both in local and foreign universities.
Last but not least, Prof. Tekalign has played a very significant role in reviving and re-establishing the defunct Ethiopian Society of Soil Science back in the 1991, and also ensured its sustainability up to now.
May his soul rest in eternal peace!