General Manager : Dr Tafara Matekaire

Dr Tafara MatekaireDr Tafara Matekaire oversees the operations of the Zimbabwe Technological Solutions (ZTS). ZTS is a commercial entity wholly owned by SIRDC. Dr Matekaire joined SIRDC from the Bindura University of Science Education (BUSE) in 2012 as a Senior Research Scientist in the Biotechnology Research Institute (BRI) and was later promoted to Principal Research Scientist and General Manager of ZTS, a vehicle through which SIRDC commercializes its research output. SIRDC, through its maize improvement research project, developed climate smart drought tolerant maize varieties, including the drought tolerant Sirdmaize 113 which was commerciallised during the 2012/13 farming season. More maize varieties, including Sirdmaize 115, 117 and 119 have since been developed and registered and these will be launched shortly.

Dr Matekaire pursued undergraduate studies in Cuba and obtained a Licentiate in Biology with Education in 1999. He proceeded to pursue further studies (1999-2001) at the University of Havana under the then Ministry of Higher and Tertiary Education/BUSE Staff Development programme and acquired an M Sc degree in Plant Biology majoring in Plant Physiology. His M Sc degree project was on the relationship of the Sucrose acid invertase and sucrose phosphate synthase enzymes on sucrose accumulation and ripening in two commercial sugarcane varieties. Upon graduation in 2001, he joined BUSE as a Lecturer in the Biological Sciences Department where he taught undergraduate courses in Agricultural Biology, Plant Form and Function, Lab-based Research Projects and Plant Physiology and Pathology. He also became Chairperson of the Department.

At BUSE, Dr Matekaire was instrumental in the introduction of the M Sc degree in Conservation Biology offered by the Biological Sciences Department. He also taught some courses under this post-graduate degree programme. He also taught the Plant Physiology and Agricultural Management course on a part-time basis at the Zimbabwe Open University under the B Sc degree in Agriculture Management.

While at BUSE, Dr Matekaire served on various BUSE committees such as the University Regulations committee, the Research Board, Academic Appointments Board and as the academic representative to the University Senate and Council. He also became a Proctor and later Senior Proctor (2006-7) and Acting Dean 2005-7 as well as Acting Vice Chancellor (2006) before joining the University of Cape Town to pursue Ph D degree studies in Cell and Molecular Biology (2007-12) working on understanding desiccation tolerance through a comparative analysis of chloroplast proteome of two resurrection plant species: Xerophyta humilis (poikilocchlorophyllous) and Talbotia elegans (homoiochlorophyllous).

Dr Matekaire also attended other postgraduate and professional development courses that include Science Communication, Bio-Informatics, Biometrics and Experimental design and Ethics in Animal Vaccine Production. His areas of research interest include Plant Conservation, Cereal transformation, Plant stress, Plant breading and cultivar development and agricultural extension as well as detection and separation of plant bioactive compounds for medical and veterinary usage, technology dissemination and community development.

Dr Matekaire has attended several international workshops and has published extensively in international journals. He is also a member of various professional bodies including the American Association for the Advancement of Science, Zimbabwe Association of Plant Breeders, and Pan African Mosquito Control Association. He also serves on the Standards Association of Zimbabwe Technical committees on development of SAZ/FD002 Standard on Genetically Modified Organisms and Bio-fertilizer specification.