Dr. Isiah M. Mharapara

Chief Executive Officer

Focus Areas

Community & Civic Engagement
Community Based Participatory Research
Economic Security
Community Development
Rural Development
Food Systems
Food Systems
Environment & Sustainable Development


Isiah Mharapara graduated at the University of Zimbabwe (then Rhodesia) in 1978) obtaining a BSc. Agriculture with honors and then obtained his PhD in Agriculture through the University of Newcastle-Upon Tyne in 2000. He has 31 years of working experience 19 of which were gained as a research scientist based at the Lowveld Research Stations and 12 as a research and development specialist within the Agricultural Research Council. Dr. Mharapara designed and ran agronomic trials for both irrigated and rain-fed crops in the semi-arid regions of the south-eastern Lowveld and developed appropriate technologies for both commercial and smallholder farmers in Zimbabwe. The list of crops he has worked on include conventional agronomic and horticultural crops such as cotton, maize, rice, cassava, wheat, barley, beans, soyabeans, cowpeas, sunflower, coffee, mangoes, avocados, bananas, pecans, sweet potatoes, vegetables, chillies, paprika and new crops including safflower, vernonia galamensis, jatropha and castor beans. He collected, introduced, evaluated, screened, selected and released four cassava varieties (MH1, MH2, MH3, MH4) and four rice varieties (Mhara 1, Mhara 2, Mhara 3, Mhara4) that are currently being grown in Zimbabwe today. In his quest to find a safe and sustainable method to manage wetlands as a productive resource and reactivate the production and consumption of rice, Dr. Mharapara developed the Ngwarati Wetlands Management System (NWMS). This is a system characterized with broad ridges and broad furrows at zero gradients and on which rice is grown in the waterlogged furrows and any other field crops on the drained ridges. The system is highly productive and has demonstrated its capacity to eradicate hunger and poverty, rehabilitate degraded wetlands, restore the functions of the wetlands and increase the value of these ecosystems as viewed by the communities. Mharapara has gone through leadership training under the umbrella of WKKF (KILP 1) and implemented successful community projects using this technology in Seke, Wedza and Sadza districts He has also made great contributions to the agricultural sector through his technologies in micro-irrigation for the smallholder sector (sub-surface clay pipe irrigation), conservation agriculture (water harvesting, mulching, planting techniques, crop and plant sequencing, plant combinations, etc) His move to the Agricultural Research Council was timely and he had the responsibility to recast the current operational framework of this institution. This brought in the Strategic Plan, Operational Manual, and the establishment of four Commodity Committees and Provincial Committees. In this regard the ARC has an appropriate framework to keep under review the adequacy and relevancy of the research and development on agriculture and the natural resources that go with it. He is the National Node Coordinator of the regional program on Food Agriculture Natural Resources Policy Analysis Framework (FANRPAN), an initiative which is working closely with the climate change programs within the region. He has also contributed to climate change mitigation and adaptation efforts through his participation and coordination of the Desert Margins Program in Zimbabwe.