Dr Shongwe's research and social responsibility aim to establish strong interdisciplinary networks and collaborate with researchers across disciplines to provide leadership in research that contributes directly to the economy of South Africa.
“The world is complex and moving forward – there is a need for more inter-disciplinary work. In the future I hope to establish strong networks and to collaborate with researchers across disciplines. Coupled with stakeholder engagement, I aspire to provide leadership in research that directly contributes to the economy of South Africa.”
He is also concerned about poverty and hunger in Africa, particularly in the face of climate change, and sees an opportunity in the relatively high youth unemployment rate in South Africa.
“Poverty and hunger are still widespread in Africa. As someone in the agricultural sector, food security issues – especially when coupled with climate change – provide a complex challenge. South Africa has relatively high youth unemployment rate and this against a food insecure Africa, provides an opportunity,” he notes, adding that academic institutions must offer attractive and innovative agricultural training options to the youth to address these issues.
“The government, industry players and training institutions have critical roles in such. I am of the view that academic institutions must be agile and provide attractive agricultural training options to the youth, for example specialised short courses. Again, this should be innovative and in line with the times.”
Dr Shongwe joins UMP after leaving his position as lecturer in Farm Power and Machinery in the Department of Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering at the University of Eswatini. He hopes to contribute to the growth and success of the University of Mpumalanga by improving the quality of graduates through teamwork and collaboration.
“UMP is a relatively new institution and that affords me a chance to engage in a lot of things that otherwise, I would not have experienced in established institutions. More importantly, I am also here to learn. I am of the view that through teamwork UMP will move up the University Rankings and become the first-choice institution, especially for the people of the province. Of course, this will be through improving the quality of the graduates.”
Dr Shongwe completed his undergraduate studies at the University of Eswatini (formerly known as the University of Swaziland) and then earned an Honours and a Master’s degree in Agricultural Engineering at the University of Pretoria.
He returned to the University of Eswatini as a Lecturer in the Department of Land Use and Mechanisation, from where he also completed his PhD in Bio-resource Systems through the University of KwaZulu-Natal in 2019.
@ Story by Cleopatra Makhaga. Pictures Supplied.