Dr. Dianah Ngonyamo-Majee

Regional Biotech Stewardship, Compliance and QMS Lead
St. Louis, Missouri
United States


Before joining KSAL in 2001, I was a full-time lecturer and coordinator of the BSc Agriculture program in the Mashonaland East Province at the Zimbabwe Open University for three years (1998-2001). As a University lecturer for distance-learning students who were mature and already working at public and private agricultural institutes, we experienced many resource limitations that affected our work. Resources to fund student research projects, a requirement for our students to complete in their final year, were scarce. I also needed to do further studies to earn a PhD that would allow me to be more effective as a university lecturer and also be able to lead more research programs that promote agricultural productivity in the rural areas of Zimbabwe. With KSAL funding for PhD studies at University of Wisconsin, Madison (2001-5), I was exposed to advanced agricultural technologies available for adoption by our smallholder farmers to increase both crop yields and animal productivity. After completing my PhD, I decided to join a leading company in agriculture that had the resources to fund research to develop advanced technologies to help African farmers produce more with limited resources. I became a lead scientist with Monsanto Company based at the main Biotechnology site located on the Chesterfield Village Campus in St Louis, Missouri, USA. With my international background, I managed to lead the biotech component of company’s efforts on behalf of the Water Efficient Maize for Africa (WEMA) project. This included research studies in Kenya, South Africa, Mozambique, Tanzania, and Uganda. The WEMA project is a public—private partnership led by the African Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF) involving the national programs in these countries (NARS), CIMMYT and Monsanto. Through the WEMA project, the partnership aims to improve the drought tolerance of white maize through a combination of breeding and biotechnology techniques. The impact of my work will be on a much larger scale than I originally intended when I applied for KSAL funding. Then, my goal was focused on helping farmers just in a small village in my home country of Zimbabwe. Now, I can fulfill my passion and dream of participating in efforts to transfer and test advanced agricultural technologies that will benefit smallholder farmers in Africa and across the world.