The journey to my PhD programme begun with my involvement in the SENTINEL Project

My name is Petan Hamazakaza , a PhD student at Copperbelt University, Zambia. I consider life as a journey that is characterised by phases of ups and downs. Growing up in a rural setting where social standards are so low makes one not to appreciate how the other side of society in urban areas is. At a tender age of 15 years I happened to be the only pupil who made it to secondary school to pursue my secondary education at Namwianga Christian Secondary School under the support of the American Church of Christ. This was in the mid 1980s. Passing an examination in those years be it at primary, secondary or even tertiary level was considered a great break-through in life. Educational materials and other teaching aids where almost non-existent in the Zambian educational system.

Coming from a poor rural background financially coupled with exposure to pupils from well to do families in urban areas, did not draw me backwards academically. Instead, this served as a great source of inspiration to achieve excellency and study hard with a view of changing my life. Through consistency and hardwork, I was awarded the outstanding Mathematics student and overall best student at secondary school. In the 1980s, Zambia had only two Technical schools where the best and top 200 pupils at junior secondary level were selected and sent to continue with senior secondary school education. In 1986-1988, I was among that cream of pupils who were selected to Hillcrest Technical Secondary School and that marked the beginning of change in my academic life. I was focused and certain that university education was within reach. Surely, in 1990 I made it to University of Zambia where I pursued a Bachelors’ degree in Agricultural Economics. I went on to pursue a Masters degree in Rural Development and Livelihoods at Larenstein University of Applied Sciences, part of Wageningen University and Research Centre in the Netherlands.

Mr. Hamakaza in a recent field visit to a farming community in Kabwe, Zambia

I later joined the Ministry of Agriculture in Zambia in the late 1990s. In my professional career, I have been working under the Zambia Agriculture Research Institute and attached to the Farming Systems and Social Sciences Division. ZARI is the largest agriculture research entity in Zambia and has over 10 research stations across the country. The institute’s overall objectives are to develop and adapt crop, soil and plant protection technologies and provide a high quality, appropriate and cost effective services to farmers. As a researcher, I coordinate a ZARI research station in Central Zambia and am based in Kabwe town. Currently, I am occupying the position of Principal Agriculture Research Officer. I have worked with renowned Universities, UN agencies and CGIAR institutions as a researcher and have made some publications that can be accessed online.Text Box: Mr. Hamakaza in a recent field visit to a farming community in Kabwe, Zambia

The journey to my PhD programme begun with my involvement in the Social and Environmental Trade-offs in African Agriculture (SENTINEL) Project reconnaissance survey in Zambia where I was contracted as a Research Assistant when I developed interest in SENTINEL research themes. Initially, the relationship between SENTINEL and myself as a researcher was contractual as I was recruited to collect data during the reconnaissance survey. However, after pre-survey training as well as several site visits, I developed a deeper understanding of the issues and expressed interest in undertaking a PhD research in the Agricultural Expansion thematic area of the SENTINEL project and I was admitted for PhD study at Copperbelt University, Zambia.  In my personal view, this indicates that inter-sectoral perspectives and evidence generated by the reconnaissance survey on the future of agriculture development can lead to greater awareness of trade-offs among researchers in the agriculture sector. As a researcher, have links in agriculture research which can influence policy. The link of my candidature as a PhD student to SENTINEL research topics means that my future work will contribute to generating evidence that could influence policy in Zambia. I did receive a research scholarship from SENTINEL through RUFORUM and I am looking forward to applying the findings from my study to support the agriculture sector in Zambia.

For more details, please contact Mr. Petan Hamazaka via email:

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