Last week we were very sad to learn of the passing of Tungamirai Rukuni, popularly known as Tunga for short. Tunga enjoyed a long and rich career applying his engineering skills in the development and testing of appropriate crop processing equipment and practices with rural communities and small agro-businesses, helping them transform their food and feed systems and enhance income-generation opportunities.
NRI staff, past and present, remember Tunga for his intelligence, warmth, laughter and his sense of humour. Tunga was a central player in several research projects which NRI staff collaborated in during the DFID-funded Crop Post Harvest Programme (CPHP) (1995-2006), both within and beyond Zimbabwe, and was one of the founding steering committee members of the CPHP.
These projects provided smallholder farmers with efficient equipment and systems of oilseed processing – mainly peanut butter and cooking oil from groundnuts and sunflower, respectively. He was also involved in the sensory and culinary evaluation of the oilseed products.
Tunga also worked with NRI colleagues on cassava processing for food and poultry feed. When he wasn’t working with rural communities surrounded by their oilseed or cassava harvests, he could be found tinkering with processing equipment and carefully training the next generation of food processing engineers in his workshop at the University of Zimbabwe’s Development Technology Centre.Tunga’s contributions and legacy will continue through them, as he now rests. Zorora murugare, tichazoonana.