President Julius K. Nyerere Address at the Inauguration of Sokoine University of Agriculture Morogoro: 26th September, 1984

Mr. Chairman of Council,


Member of the University,


It is appropriate that we should this year establish the Sokoine University of Agriculture on the firm foundations of the Morogoro Campus of the University of Dar es Salaam. We thus give a further indication of Agriculture’s important are the cornerstone of Tanzania’s economic recovery and resumed growth. For we decided to set up this University after lengthy discussions in many institutions and committees. And for its best administration, we now have an extremely good and helpful report from a Tanzanian study team, which I commend to council and staff, and the relevant ministries, for consideration and implementation as far as possible. 


Even the name of this University was carefully. It commemorates our late Prime Minister, Edward Sokoine, who commitment and service to Tanzania Agricultural development challenges that University which bears his name to ever greater service. And we called this a University of Agriculture, and not of Agricultural Sciences, because this University is intended to the practically oriented, that is a place of practical learning and research. 

The Sokoine University of Agriculture is intended to be directly useful to our farmers and our nation, now as well as in the future. It must be professional oriented and the professions concerned are those which encompass the knowledge, the understanding and skills to a practical job in our rural areas. Thus, the main objective of this University is not abstract research, or the training of academics who can write learned treatises’. Certainly we hope that it will do those things, for we expect and we demand from both staff and students – rigorous scholarship and scientific research. But they are not what the University will be judged by during the next twenty years or more.

The major purpose of this University is the development and transmission of skills and practical expertise at the highest level. And the skills and expertise required are all those necessary and useful for the transformation of our rural areas – a transformation which can only take place on a firm base of agricultural development and increased production. Thus, the concern of the leaders of the Sokoine  University of Agriculture should not be the attainment of degrees comparable to those of the Colleges you may behave attended in the U.S.A. or elsewhere.

It should be the giving of service to our agriculture, and our rural people, comparable to (or better than) that which those colleges give to their own hinterlands. 

This University must be answering the needs, and solving the problems, of Tanzanian agriculture and rural life. Its aim must be, firstly, to contribute towards improve production and therefore improved standards of living for the people who live and work on the land or in connection with the land and resources, so they have needs and problems in common. But each method of organisation has needs and problems peculiar to itself. And all exist in Tanzania and are likely to do so for the foreseeable future.

The emphasis must be on practical development. And this requires new departures in Tanzanian education. For until now we have no tradition or experience of training farmers. The Faculty of Agriculture, Forestry and Veterinary Science of the University of Dar es Salaam did not train farmers. And various Ministry of Agriculture Training Institutions do not do so. All have been training future Civil Servants, and awarding them Degree, Diplomas, or Certificates. Now I am asking this University to rescue us from the absurdity of an agricultural country which as no institutions where people can learn to be farmers, or better farmers. Some of the people you train will still become Civil Servants in the future, and will require the necessary qualifications. But your real purpose is to help us in the training of farmers, and in the education and training experts who are both capable of training practical farmers and willing to do so.

Extension workers neither get, or deserve, the respect of the peasants or commercial farmers unless they can answer the practical problems which these are having to cope with, and can demonstrate - both by their own example, and by using their own hands and brains – how to get better results. Teachers at the Ministry of Agriculture’s training Institutes – some of whom will be recruited from this University – must have the same abilities at a higher level. They too much have an understanding of practical farming; they must be able to teach practical skills and to explain how to deal with a problem which is presented to them, even if it is new or local. Even research workers can do better and more practically oriented research workers can do better and more practically oriented research if they know both the needs and the constraints of our farming community.

Thus, I am suggesting that as well as teaching about the importance of such things as soil analysis, this University should also be teaching the simple and relevant skills necessary to analyse soil. I am also suggesting that you should be developing simple tools which the ordinary farmer can use for such purposes, or spreading a knowledge of them if they already exist. I am told, for sample, that the Korean experts do soil analysis to the level necessary in the villages, right on the spot where they are working with our farmers.

Secondly ,this University will have the Faculties of Agriculture, of Forestry, and of Veterinary Science, and may be other Faculties later on. But farming is not divided like that. The aim of all farmers is to get6 the maximum possible return from their land and their labour. That is the need of the nation also, with additional requirement that farming practices should not damage the national environment on which future generations will depend. And, as general rule and certainly in our villages, mixed farming – involving arable cultivation, pastures and animal husbandry, and some tree growth – is both practised now and appropriate. Our Farmers therefore need to have knowledge of all sectors, and – which is especially important – an understanding of heir inter-relationships, and how each can assist the best development of the other. 

Thirdly, and as an extension of my second point, agriculture must be defined by this University in its widest possible sense. For anything which affects farming practices and output, and most things which affects farming practices and output, and most things which affect the quality of rural living, must be incorporated in your work. 

One example is obviously the implements our farmers use, or could with advantage use. And that involves their design, their manufacture, and their maintenance – with emphasis on what can be provided, developed, and maintained, with the human and economic resources of Tanzania. Small farmers, cooperative farmers and large – scale farmers, need different circumstances of use, and the different levels of technical knowledge prevailing in different agricultural sectors. All must be of interest to this University; Agricultural Engineering in certainly an integral part of the work you have to do.

But let me stress: the majority of our farmers are peasants combine harvesters are – we- inspiring to the initiated, and have a glamour for the agricultural engineer; it is true that we can use a few in places like Basuto; and that our larger and more successful cooperatives will need them. But the more important implements for us are the ones which can be useful to peasants or the small village cooperatives. That means simple tools, tools which do not depend on imported fuel, which can be repaired (and preferably even manufactured) in the villages or small towns, and which do not require advanced mechanical skills for their maintenance or efficient use.

In its technical training, management training, and all other aspects of its work, the University must emphasize the development of self – reliant agriculture, in an increasingly self-reliant nation. We have to reduce the import dependence of our economy because with the existing international economic order nothing else is viable. And as agriculture is the basis of our economy, that means keeping the import dependence of our agriculture as low as possible.

Of course an increasingly self-reliant agriculture is not just a responsibility for the University. But the University can help our development towards that direction, and must do so. For we have to increase our agricultural production in circumstances of ever-decreasing foreign exchange reserves. Agriculture has to provide adequate and reliable supplies of food and raw materials for our industries; it also has to contribute very substantially towards earning the foreign exchange necessary to meet our other requirements, such as education and health and all the other services of a modern state. And as far as possible crops have to be produced in places where they can be accessible without increasing still further our transport problems and other foreign exchange costs. 

In addition, our agricultural development needs to be directed towards reducing our, dependence on the rains by the expansion of dough resistant crops and of irrigation. But these developments too, have to be made without greatly increasing agriculture’s dependence on imported machinery, fuel, or technical services. It does not help very much to reduce dependence on the unreliable weather by increasing dependence on something else which is beyond our control.

Again, because agriculture is central to our national development, we need from this University some people who are expert in what I believe is called ‘agricultural micro-economics’. But we need very many more who can be good, practical farm manager. For let us accept another reality: few people farm for fun; good farming demands hard physical work and mental effort.

While the return a farmer gets from his land and labour certainly depends upon his technical skill, it is very greatly increased by good farm management. This is true for a peasant farmer, a village cooperative, and for a commercial farmer. And all are interested in the net benefit obtained from their work and their inputs. One does not have to be a capitalist or a monetarist to recognise this. 

Nor should sociological questions be regarded as irrelevant to this University. You can only succeed in persuading people to change their current methods of production if you understand what these are, and how they are integrated into their social structure and beliefs. For however theoretically beneficial a new method of production may be, it will bring no result if the people believe it will adversely affect another vital aspect of their lives.

Such problems have to be tackled by first understanding what underlies the resistance; and secondly by seeing whether the resistance can be reduced by adapting in the technology; or by acceptable changes in the other relevant aspects of their life-patterns. Sociological knowledge is essential, especially for the majority of Tanzania’s agronomists, animal breeders, vets and foresters who will be working with our peasants.

Let me add that one aspect of this – and of the integrated nature of rural knowledge; - is a willingness to learn from the peasants. There have been many cases where so-called modern scientific methods imported from temperate areas as have proved to be less productive that traditional methods, or to cause unacceptable damage to our soils. The practice of deep ploughing on fragile tropical soils, and of opposing intercropping on small farms are but two examples of this. We need to study the traditional practices, and where the circumstance in which they developed have change see how they can be adopted to the new conditions.

There was the traditional practice of slash and burn, cultivate  and move on; now  that we live in settled communities we have to show the peasants that the modern equivalent – equally within his own control and more productive – is the use of compost, green manure and animal manure.

Similarly, we have to understand the existing societies in order to help the gradual move towards cooperative production. For while individual peasant farms are now the most important productive units in our agriculture – and must be treated as such – the future lies in larger farm units on which better implements can be used economically. For a socialist country this must mean the expansion of village cooperatives; an Agricultural University in a socialist country must make a contribution to that development. 

Fourthly, the University must have a farm – the University must have a farm – a productive farm. In Morogoro alone, you have 3,350 hectares of land; you also have some forest land. Some of this large area is needed for particular demonstration plot, and for research. But there is enough land for a working farm in addition – or train farmers, it is essential that students should be able to see a productive and commercially successful farm in operation and that they should be able to work on it. Moreover,  the University Farm should be applying all the beneficial results of research done at this University and elsewhere in Tanzania, so that its output per acre is high for all the crops it produce.

The University Farm must have management systems appropriate to the size of its unit or units. It must be run on strictly commercial principles, as a self-accounting unit which operates in accordance with all the laws and conditions which prevail elsewhere in Tanzania. There must be no scope for excuses that it is making a loss because of its importance to University Research or teaching or feeding. On the contrary, the Farm must make a profit and contribute directly or indirectly to the foreign exchange earnings of the country. I must do this through the efficient production and sale of its food and other crops, either to the University or to other national institutions.

Mr. Chairman:    there is one other major need of Tanzania which this University must try to meet. It is of being involved in the whole network of Agricultural Extension and Research in our country. 

The Sokoine University of Agriculture inherits a useful ‘Centre for Continuing Education’. The must be enlarged, and expanded in function so that the direct influence of this University extends throughout this Region and is felt also in the rest of the country. Its out-reach must help to disseminate research results. Research which ends up in books or learned papers may add lustre to an academic reputation; it only contributes to the purposes of Tanzanian Universities if the knowledge gained is spread and used. Already we have accumulated much useful knowledge about how to improve agricultural production; but too little of it is applied by our farmers or promoted by our Agricultural Officers and Field Assistants. Sometimes it is because these do not know the research results, even about the most productive spacing, inter-cropping system, composting practices; and so on, to say nothing of more  advanced knowledge.

Underlying almost everything I have said so far is the expectation that the staff and students of this University will give service to the people of Tanzania. The University must contribute to this by encouraging students towards attitudes of service to the farmers – especially the peasant farmers – and to fostering identification with them and their interests. For it is enough to train people in the skills and understanding necessary for efficient service; we need graduates of this University who will use their skills for Tanzania and its people.

Courses under the title of Development Studies are certainly not a complete answer. Sometimes they have the disadvantage of leading people to believe that ‘Development Studies’ cover questions of ideology so everyone else can ignore them, or alternatively, that a study of socialist theories is all that is required. In fact Development Studies courses are intended to help students to understand the purposes of Tanzania and the environment in which our country has to make a living and develop. That is essential for all University students. But it is not enough.

For it is certainly necessary to understand the malign influence of external factors on Tanzania’s development. But ideological teaching has to free us and inspire us to work out what we can do in the face of these things, and how we can do it. The external circumstances we are contending with are not going to change in the near future; we have to learn to cope with them. 

What I am suggesting is that everyone involved in teaching, administering, or governing the Sokoine University of Agriculture has to involve themselves in promoting attitudes of service. And it has to be service needed by Tanzania in the light of Tanzanian circumstances and aspirations. These attitudes can be promoted by force of sample – by real dedication to teaching, to research, to spreading research results in a form which the people needing it can understand, and to helping the surrounding farmers and other rural workers. They can also be promoted by the way the University is organised, and the demands which its structures make upon our nation.

Let me therefore turn briefly to question relating to the membership and administration of this University. 

First, I suggest that the University, in consultation with the Ministries of Education and of Agriculture and Livestock Development, should begin by asking who its students should be. Let us have another look at this in the light of the practical emphasis which I am advocating. Certainly they need to be people who can show evidence of sufficient academic ability to benefit from the science – based courses – and whose command of English is sufficient for them to understand what they are reading and express what they have learned. You will need a few academic ‘high fliers’. But I suggest that the greatest need is for students who want to be farmers, to work with farmers, and to help farmers. Your selection criteria should reflect these proposes. 

I am aware that this may mean less First Class Passes in our Degrees – and I am not suggesting that you should reduce your standards of academic excellence. What I am saying is that our job is to spread and enlarge knowledge so that our agriculture be judged – in Tanzania and elsewhere – by whether your contribute to reaching that goal. Your objectives should not be sacrificed to Class Lists. 

In particular I suggest that this University should be looking for Mature Students, not making it difficult for them to enter. People with farming experience and who want more knowledge should be looked upon as a gift to you I am not impressed by the argument that Mature Students rarely get good degrees and sometimes have to be helped to get a pass in the basic sciences because they do not have the grounding. Give them help in such subjects as mathematics! Make it your duty and privilege to do so. If you chose wisely, and give them assistance when they need it, mature students will held to keep this University practically oriented.  

Let me add that what I am saying applies to all the Universities of Tanzania. It is absurd that it should be more difficult for Mature Students to enter Universities in this country than it is in America or Britain.  That only shows lack of self-confidence on the part of the University themselves. As I have said before, had I not been admitted as Mature Student I would never have received a University education.

Secondly, your Library. I entirely agree that a good library is essential the role of this University, and I therefore do have great sympathy with the immense problems which you are facing this respect. I wish I could give you a firm promise that – as recommended – two million Tanzania Shillings in hard currency will be allocated to Library Rehabilitation every gear for five years and an appropriate amount annually. But we cannot usefully allocate foreign exchange which we do not have. All I can say – and I do say it – is that the Bank of Tanzania will be asked to recognise University Library needs as one of the national priorities, and that we shall do what we can to help – including putting this need to friends who offer to help Tanzania.

But there is no reason that I can see why this University Library should not be designated as a National Library of Agriculture, as suggested by the Study Team. This means that Agencies would be required to deposit Documents, and Publishers deposit books, related to agriculture, natural resources, and allied areas. At least let this Library be a centre for all the information relating to agricultural questions which is collected in and with the assistance of Tanzania. And I urge that books and documents be treated with great care; made accessible to students and researchers, and also protected well. Anyone wilfully damaging books or documents be treated with great care; made accessible to students and researchers, and also protected well. Anyone wilfully damaging books or documents of this University Library should be dealt with in the harshest possible manner – if necessary barred from access to its resources, with all the consequences which follow from that in a University.

The provision of teaching and living accommodation is another very expensive aspect of University life. I appeal to you, as this University expands, to insist upon designs which fare functional, and simple, and low cost. Do not approach these questions with pre-conserved notions of status being dependent upon the size and type of offices or houses. There are some buildings – such as the Library and laboratories - which need to be strong, designed to last hundreds of years with proper maintenance, and capable of future expansion. But not all building which is done here needs to be looked upon in the same way.

We do not want to build slums, but good architecture does not have to be expensive or grandiose.  It can be attractive while still being functional and meeting the circumstances of the people for whom it is being created. Let architects accept the challenge of building for a country which is both poor and ambitious.

Staff and student housing, for example, must be designed and built so that its capital and maintenance costs are low. In Tanzania we have a Building Research Unit; count we  not adopt some of their plans and techniques for low-cost housing, rather than just thinking in terms of unique (and usually European based) designs for hostels, flats, and so on? What is necessary are places where people can live in clean conditions, and where they can study. The simplest and cheapest student and staff housing on this campus will have many advantages over the desperate search for suitable accommodation outside, which also involves transport and other problems. 

Finally: I ask that the Administration of this University should be simple, and cheap keep the number of Faculties and Departments to a minimum, and the bureaucracy at the lowest possible level. More administrators and what are called support staff do not necessarily mean better administration  and services often the reverse is the case, for Parkinson’s Law is valid in Tanzania as well as elsewhere.

The administrative and academic structure must be such that individual responsibility for job is clear, so that persons can be held while student and staff involvement in the running of the University is necessary, democracy must not be carried to the lengths where it becomes an enemy of efficiency. This is an educational institution, not a representative body, and people must be required to work at their jobs not to spend all the time on committees. Nor should we be selecting teachers and administrator on the basis of their popularity rather than their competence in their work.

Mr. Chairman of the Council, Friends this is new University. Make it new. Learn from the experience of Tanzania’s first University adapt the good things to your particular needs and do not copy the bad ones. Remember that the Sokoine University of Agriculture is financed by the peasants and workers of Tanzania, and that these are poor people.

Remember also that our national objectives are Socialism and Self Reliance and that your work should be directed towards those purposes. Our needs are great. We ask for your service.

You have my good wishes, and my full support, in the task ahead of you.


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