By mugonya John
In September this year, I received communication from the International Crop Research Institute for Semi_Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) that my application for an internship placement had been successful. Getting an internship opportunity soon after defending my Master’s thesis at Gulu University, was exciting and double blessing. I looked forward to working with a multi-disciplinary team from various countries. I was selected to work in the Markets Institutions Nutrition and Diversity program, particularly on analysis of livestock market systems among pastoralists and agro-pastoralists in the Kerio Valley of Kenya. The internship was supported by the MasterCard Foundation (MCF) through the Regional Universities’ Forum for Capacity Building in Agriculture (RUFORUM).
I reported for the intership at the World Agroforestry Center in Nairobi which hosts the Eastern and Southern regional office of ICRISAT. The center is home for nineteen international organizations many of which are under the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) Consortium. I was warmly welcomed and given adequate support beyond my expectations.
I started the preparation for the Kerio Valley study with a voracious review of literature related to livestock market systems’ function and structure. Given the time and financial resources availed, qualitative research methods were preferred over quantitative. I was not acquainted to qualitative research methods, therefore I was supported by my line supervisor and other team members. I was also supported by two experts in qualitative studies notably Caroline Hambloch and Emma Elfversson particularly in designing the study methodology. I have gained a lot of knowledge, skills and insights in qualitative research especially in methodology development, data collection and transcription.
During data collection, I was pleased to see a beautiful part of Kenya, the Kerio Valley. The valley is geographically shaped like a triangle and it touches three different counties which include; Elgeyo-Marakwet, West Pokot and Beringo. The valley is home to majorly two tribes; the Marakwets and the Pokots. The Pokots are pastoralists while the Marakwets are agro-pastoralists. In Kerio Valley, livestock is very important for people’ livelihoods and as a means of transport given the terrain of the land. A striking attribute about these people is the social capital amongst them. For example, I witnessed the community contributing towards education of three children two in high school and one at the university who belonged to a teacher within the community. This internship is a great experience both in terms of developing my research skills and in appreciating various cultural practices.
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Figure 1: A truck loading mangoes in Sangach center, Elgeyo Marakwet County
Figure 2: Donkeys carrying luggage across a stream near the cattle trade area in Lomut, West Pokot County
Figure 3: Goats moving to the grazing area along Tot-Kolowa road
Figure 4: Female traders selling milk in Chesegeon livestock market in West Pokot County
Kidega Kenneth was one of the 1,513 students who graduated at Gulu University on 11th January 2020. He satisfied the requirement for the award of the degree of Masters of Science of Food Security and Community nutrition of Gulu University. As part of the support to the Mastercard Scholars at Masters level, RUFORUM gives a four months Field Attachment Programme Award (FAPA) to selected MSc students upon completion of their courses. This fund is to help them manage a short-term project related to their research work.
Kidega’s field attachment programme focused on enhancing community knowledge and uptake of Indigenous Micro-organisms (IMO) technology , he worked with Technical Vocational Education and Training Institutions (TVET) students of Kitgum Agriculture and Vocational Institute, community knowledge workers and smallholder farmers in Kitgum district in northern Uganda.
“Sharing the research findings brought more joy, love and hope for agriculture to the participants especially the TVET students because they practically participated in setting up the experimental unit, trapping the IMO, making the IMO solution and laying the deep litter floor IMO bed.
All these made conformed to them the power of the University in research and the ability of discovering new knowledge to solve problem being faced in the community that can help enhance livelihoods. The TVET students thanked Gulu University for availing them the opportunity to understand how research works and, they requested Mr Kidega Kenneth to send their plea to the University to not only send more trainers but also award them with a certificate of participation in IMO technology for pig production.
On the other hand, smallholder farmers in communities where the research findings were disseminated and IMO technology for pig production trainings were conducted appreciated the new knowledge brought to them. The research findings motivated the existing pig farmers to continue with pig keeping and, more non-pig farmers were willing to venture into piggery enterprise after the dissemination and training. Smallholder farmers showed much interest in the technology by turning up in big numbers especially women, being attentive and asking relevant questions concerning the technology. They also requested for more trainings on pig management if they went ahead to implement. To them, the technology appeared to be a promising way of enhancing livelihoods. Above all, both the TVET, community knowledge workers and farmers were very grateful to RUFORUM and Gulu University for the great Initiative taken to facilitate the student to disseminate his research findings to communities in other districts (Kitgum) beyond the scope of his study. It enables farmers’ knowledge to be enhance uniformly across the region. The TVET management further requested Gulu University to continuously send them more Agricultural graduate students for their research results dissemination in order to better enhance the livelihood of smallholder farmers situated far from the University.
Robine Okello is a recent graduated with a Masters Degree in Agri-Enterprises Development at the Faculty of Agriculture and Environment, Gulu University, Uganda. whose study was fully sponsored by the RUFORUM under the Nurturing Grant Project (NGP) with support from the Mastercard Foundation. He is a Ugandan and shares his Journey through the program.
At the end of my second year, I applied to the African Union Youth Volunteer Corps 2019 to volunteer for a period of one year because of the excellent development opportunities it provides to the young people to contribute to the continent’s development. Fortunately, have been selected from over 7000 applicants to join a team of Pan-African family of young African professionals serving as AU Youth Volunteers towards an ‘integrated, prosperous and peaceful African driven by its citizens’-the Africa we want!. The opportunity to contribute to improving the welfare of the marginalized groups in the African continent especially youth and women groups participating in business and entrepreneurship including smallholder farmers through developing their human capabilities motivated me to apply.
The Faculty of Agriculture and Environment, Gulu University has a unique community attachment model that allows both the graduate and undergraduate students to practically exercise their professional knowledge back to the community. In 2018, this model was applied for the first time in the refugee’s settings in Northern Uganda, where it proved useful. It was from this training that I had the opportunity to exercise my professional skills and knowledge in Agri-entrepreneurship to train 20 groups to develop workable business plans from concept development to actualization of their businesses. Under the project “promoting farm-based micro-enterprises in the refugees’ settlements”, the project was funded by the Food and Agriculture Organizations of the United Nations (FAO).
To me, participating in facilitating the establishment of micro-farm based enterprises at the refugees’ settlements in Adjumani and Arua in West Nile, Uganda was a unique experience and opportunity that Gulu University has granted to me. The ability and flexibility to work in a post-war setting in the refugees and host communities was a lifetime experience! Amongst the top competitive skills that made me through was the training and communication skills gained through holding leadership and volunteering positions. Through this, I have been able to design community-driven project interventions that enhanced business and youth entrepreneurship among the University students and community through the establishment of the enterprise called “JuFresh Enterprises” under Student’s Enterprise Scheme (SES) at Faculty of Agriculture & Environment. The enterprise promotes fruits growing and reducing post-harvest losses among fruits producers’ in the region by buying from them. This formed the basis upon which I was selected for the 10th cohort African Union Youth Volunteer corps 2019.
Additionally, involvement in different programs at the Faculty where I made a significant contribution to the University through volunteer graduate teaching assistantship in the Department of Rural Development and Agribusiness where I taught project planning and management, business planning and evaluation, and food supply chain management also gave credence to be selected.
Today, am grateful for the African Union Youth Volunteer Corps (AUYVC) program for deployment to work with an international humanitarian organization Danish Refugee Council (DRC) in Djibouti. Tasked with the roles and responsibilities of managing livelihoods and cash transfer projects, including farming activities (provision of seeds, tools, agricultural training and other initiatives to increase food production and decrease food insecurity amongst vulnerable households in the camps). Others managing unrestricted cash transfers for micro-businesses to strengthen people’s capacities and income-generating opportunities amongst refugees and host communities in the camps of Ali-Addeh and Holl-Holl in Southern Djibouti hosting primarily Somali and Ethiopian refugees, and Markazi camp hosting Yemeni refugees in the north.
I am grateful to Gulu University, RUFORUM and the Nurturing grant project for giving me the chance to pursue my Master’s Degree at Gulu University.
About Robine Okello
He is a beneficiary of the MCF@RUFORUM Scholarship and was among the first cohort who graduated with a Master’s degree in Agri-enterprises Development at the Faculty of Agriculture and Environment, Gulu University.
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Jean Damascene Tuyizere from Rwandan a recent Gulu University graduate (2020) with a Master of Science in Food Security and Community Nutrition and one of the MasterCard foundation Scholarship recipient through RUFORUM. Jean Shares his journey as a student at Gulu University and gives recommendations for improvement.
My stay at Gulu University has been a transformative phase of my life. In fact an unusual progress which I referred to as a ‘shift’ in this story. The fact that I was coming from a country which had undergone a transition in official language (from French to English), my English was not stable yet, in fact it was basic. Upon reaching, the University arranged a three months English language training for students coming from French speaking countries. This enabled me and my colleagues to learn English faster and communicate in effectively. This training was reinforced by other programs such as graduate seminar, workshops whose mode of delivery comprised writing a lot of term papers, reviewing articles, attending conferences, community attachment, graduate teaching assistance among others that transformed me into a smart writer.
Secondly the training approach at Gulu University allows students acquire experience while still at the University. This mode of training exposes learners to the real life experiences. The moto of Gulu university ‘‘for community transformation’’ is practiced through its own philosophy ‘‘Student centered outreach model’’ which create a unique interface between the University, students, and the community at large. This provide room for sharing experiences between partners and discuss possible homegrown solutions to address emerging challenges facing the community. Participating in this program made me understand deeper the theoretical knowledge learnt in the class and took me far beyond the class limits.
This program’s curriculum is not merely academic, it expands its contents to the whole personal development from in person communication, mass communication to boasting one’s personality as whole. I will never forget the emphasis of Dr. Egeru Anthony (TAGDev project manager) who always reminded us (scholars) to manage our expenses, investing our little income into small businesses, being more conscious about our health and taking care of the needy. To me this was one of the greatest lessons I have learnt and indeed has greatly impacted my actions and behaviour as whole.
During my stay at the University, I was able to accumulate six other certificates of different soft skills awarded by regional and International organizations from attending conferences, training and workshops. I also received recognition from Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) as one of the East African young farmers who invited me to attend its East African Regional Workshop on Youth-lead Sustainable Agriculture for Urban Food Systems.
Today, I am using the skills I have acquired from Gulu University and all the side programs I attended to help colleagues across the globe. Currently, I am heavily assisting as a research supervisor, three master students from the The BINGEN University of Applied Sciences (Germany), Bursa Uludağ University (Turkey) and Gulu University, Uganda.
Changing Africa trans-generational poverty into trans-generational wealth is what RUFORUM is missioned to do, in contributing to that, I have opened and I am managing a Facebook page ‘Opportunity Pool for African Youth (OPAY)’’ which seek to helping youth especially those living in remote areas of Africa tape into regional and global opportunities such as scholarships, fellowships and paid internships. At OPAY we also provide technical guidance on how to write a strong application.
Above all, I am a social entrepreneur running a project called ‘NGIRANKUGIRE’ which consists of giving small ruminants (sheep) to resources constrained households in Gataraga sector. The animals are given to households on a contract basis which gives both parties chance to alternate on sharing the offspring.
Last but not least, RUFORUM gives a four months field attachment to MSc students upon completion of their courses to manage a short-term project related to their research work. I am equally glad that I am one of the beneficiaries of this program and have receive funds from RUFORUM to Implement a project on Enhancing Utilization of Wild Fruits and Vegetables for Improved Iron Intake in Northern Uganda. This program offers a huge managerial experience and gives connections to students since they are expected to work with partner organizations during the implementation of the project activities and this expose the students to the job market place.
I am very glad to be an alumnus of Gulu University and I am so much grateful to the Mastercard Foundation for sponsoring my studies at Gulu University, Uganda. I normally tell my friends that I learnt to read and write from Gulu University. But this is not a joke, it is the truth. I am forever indebted to RUFORUM for believing in me and many other needy students and giving us an education.
Read more about Gulu University here
About Jean Damascene Tuyizere
He is a beneficiary of the MCF@RUFORUM Scholarship and was among the first cohort pursuing Masters’ degree in Food Security and Community Nutrition at the Faculty of Agriculture and Environment, Gulu University
The 12th RUFORUM Principal Investigators monitoring and learning session organized as a side event at the 15th RUFORUM Annual General meeting on 2nd-3rd December, 2019 converged all research teams of projects granted under the Transforming African Agricultural Universities to meaningfully contribute to Africa’s growth and development (TAGDev project). This was also the first time the Mastercard Foundation met all the project implementers to receive progress updates from the respective teams.
The meeting, which commenced with Prof. Daniel Sherrard, Provost of EARTH University
allowed for sharing of experiences from EARTH University with the research teams. Key amongst the issues that emerged were the need to retool professors, lecturers and staff with focus on learning from successful programs on the continent and beyond; increasing the rigor in programs to guarantee that students grasp business and entrepreneurial principles; incorporation of innovation and social or environmental components in entrepreneurial projects; exposure of students to state of the art technologies on value addition; according autonomy to students in decision making and conflict resolution; and, incorporating the business community in the entrepreneurial projects, for example serving as advisors. He specifically highlighted the need for research teams to focus on the mission of respective institutions. “Everyone – students, faculty, staff, leaders all must “sing the same tune” and share the mission, vision and institutional values”, he said.
The meeting provided opportunity for the pioneer projects at Gulu (Pig CARP+) and Egerton University (Cassava and seed potato CARP+) to share lessons for the newly granted projects. Amongst the key lessons that emerged included the multi-disciplinary nature of the CARP+ which calls for proper planning; the need for flexibility of university systems to handle multi-disciplinary research projects; high expectations from farming communities and industry on project outputs especially planting materials; and, exploiting community indigenous knowledge through participatory research.
Through participation in the Community Action Research Projects (CARP+) and RUFORUM Entrepreneurship Challenge Program (RECAP) projects, research teams reported to have been able to leverage additional funding and support from several agencies including the Potato CARP at Makerere University that secured US$ 62,000 from the Makerere University Research and Innovation fund; US$ 650, 000 to Bindura University of Science education to evaluate the use sub surface water harvesting membranes and tied contours in sandy soils; and, US$ 21,430 to the seed potato CARP at Egerton University amongst others.
The CARP and RECAP projects have engaged 21,134 direct &156,000 indirect beneficiaries; and 382 incubatees resulting into several innovations including two local feed formulae for pigs; two indigenous micro-organisms (IMO) products based on molasses and maize; ready-to-cook seasoned baobab leaf powder for sauce preparation; Complementary Food Supplement (CFSs) based on baobab; technical guide for optimizing baobab leave production at seedling stage, sorghum based instant porridge for the smallholder communities; and, honey fortified peanut butter. Several of these products emerging out of the CARP+ and RECAP projects have a strong business potential.
Under the RECAP projects, students have been able to cumulatively mobilize US$ 31,400 through prize awards including two students groups at University of Abomey Calavi that each received US$ 5,000 dollars from the Tony Elumelu Foundation; and, US$ 30,000 to Bishop Stuart University in Uganda from various agencies including AVSI and Ugandan Ministry of Science technology and Innovation to support student business incubation. The RECAPs have also provided employment opportunity to other Youths, for instance, the RECAP project at Bishop Stuart University in Uganda created seven jobs employing up to 23 Youths. In Kenya, the Agrienterprise Incubation for Improved Livelihoods and Economic Development (AGLEAD) has supported students establish fourteen enterprises in value addition, hospitality, agribusiness consultancy, and online training and marketing platform, three of which are legally registered as businesses employing up to 24 Youth.
Smallholders have a challenge of accessing clean planting materials and mainly rely on neighbors, own farm and research institutions as narrated by one of the Principal Investigators, “Farmers are willing to grow safflower as individuals or groups, however the project currently does not have enough quantities of seed that farmers require”. Streamlining technologies that enhance availability of clean planting materials is very important, and this includes tissue culture; propagation of healthy planting materials; and, supporting local seed businesses
Smallholders are deficient of knowledge on value addition of several crops, and this has potential to result into several post-harvest losses. Thus, training smallholders on value addition and economic value of seed propagation and bulking remains important.
Farmers produce small quantities for marketing. However, most farmers use more than one channel to sell their produce. This implies that there is a disorganized produce marketing system leading to high transaction costs. Formation of marketing groups would enhance marketing.
From 29th November to 6th December, 2019 the Regional Universities Forum for Capacity Building in Agriculture and five Ghanaian RUFORUM Member universities (University of Cape Coast, University of Ghana-Legon, University of Development Studies, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, and University of Education-Winneba organized the 15th RUFORUM Annual General Meeting. The meeting that attracted 1003 participants in 35 side events deliberated on the theme:
Delivering on Africa’s Universities Agenda for Higher Agricultural Education, Science, Technology and Innovation (AHESTI): What will it take
Successfully organizing the meeting was the responsibility of the RUFORUM Secretariat and the Local Organizing Committee at the University of Cape Coast. Hence, a wrap meeting was undertaken to receive and review reports on arrangements by the University of Cape Coast and RUFORUM Secretariat, agree on the actions for different teams and individuals, and make recommendations to RUFORUM and the University of Cape Coast. The organization of the AGM involved several components including air travel; local transportation; registration of participants; secretarial and information desk services; scheduling side events; holding scientific/technical sessions; posters and exhibition displays; fundraising/budgeting and payments; communication and visibility; accommodation; documentation; handling protocol issues; and, banqueting and Meals.
At the beginning of the wrap up meeting, Prof. Adipala Ekwamu, RUFORUM Executive Secretary informed Secretariat and University of Cape Coast Staff that the meeting was aimed at reflecting on the entire process towards the hosting of the AGM. Respective committees highlighted several key lessons and amongst these included the banqueting and Meals committee which provided key lessons for future convenings including timely confirmation of the numbers of participants to enhance the development of a clear plan for meals, as well as the need for several catering services than a single caterer.
Transport of delegates to and from the airport was challenging. This was attributed to different travel arrangements by the dignitaries, alterations in travel confirmation by dignitaries, programmatic adjustments, and changes in meeting venues. This situation calls for proper synchrony between accommodation and transport teams through automation; setting up a contingency bus at the airport to reduce the waiting time of delegates; liaising with respective Embassies & Ministry of foreign affairs to properly plan for Minister’s travel, clear identification of Very Important Persons (VIPs) especially Ministers, and setting up pull-ups and labels to direct delegates to the meeting venues.
While at the AGM, Delegates were accommodated in various hotels including Ridge Royal, Elmina Beach Resort, Coconut Groove Beach Resort, Pempamsie Hotel, Capital Hill Hotel, Institute of Education Chalets, Oguaa, Sasakawa, and Samrit Hotel that are located either within or outside the University of Cape Coast. As part of effectively coordinating accommodation arrangements, the meeting recommended the need for mutual trust between RUFORUM Organizing Committee and the Local Organizing Committee in undertaking tasks related to accommodation; embracing peer-to-peer communication; and, booking accommodation in institutional names.
Exhibitions and poster presentations at the AGM offered a great opportunity for Ghanaian Universities to show-case cutting-edge innovations, products, entrepreneurship skills and services, and scientific findings. Key lessons learned included the need for timely registration of exhibitors and branding exhibition booths, innovatively attracting delegates to the exhibition booths, and, the need for organizing Member Universities to exploit the exhibitions as an opportunity for visibility.
Information and communication technology (ICT) was vital in providing updated information to participants on various AGM aspects. Key lessons emerging included the need for specific infrastructure for different sessions, timely communication of any programmatic adjustments to ensure coordinated inter-session movements, ensuring a fast and reliable internet connection to enhance live streaming of the events, ensuring adequate participation by national media agencies, and exploiting e-technology in registration.
RUFORUM held its Business Meeting as one-day event at the sidelines of the 15th RUFORUM Annual General Meeting. The Business Meeting was held Friday, 6th December, 2019 at New Examinations Center, University of Cape Coast, Ghana under the Chairmanship of the Board Chair, Prof. George Kanyama-Phiri, the Vice Chancellor of Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources. In his remarks, He informed members that a formerly temporary Vacant place of the Deputy Board
chair was occupied by electing Prof. Theresa Nkuo-Akenji, Vice Chancellor, University in Bamenda, Cameroon during the RUFORUM Board Meeting held 5th December, 2019 at Elizabeth Adabor Conference Hall, University of Cape Coast, Ghana. She replaces Prof. Ophelia Inez Weeks, the former Vice Chancellor University of Liberia. Prof. Theresa Nkuo-Akenji will work closely with the Board Chair in providing strategic guidance to the Board and the Network at Large.
During the meeting, stakeholders received updates from RUFORUM Secretariat and this included presentations of the 2018/2019 Annual Report and 2019/2020 work plan by Dr. Florence Nakayiwa Mayega-Deputy Executive Secretary-Planning, Resource Mobilization & Management; and the 2018/2019 Financial Report and 2019/2020 Budget Proposal by Ms. Judith Nakyobe, Finance & Administration Manager, RUFORUM. Members applauded the Secretariat for the good work done and approved
the annual and financial report for 2018/2019 and work plan and budget proposal for 2019/2020 estimated at US$ 11,363,910. Prior to her closing remarks, the Finance and Administration Manager requested Ghanaian universities to quantify their contribution to the Annual General Meeting for presentation during the business meeting in Morocco. Further requested Member universities to comply with the Membership subscriptions since only 19% of the universities have complied.
The Business meeting formally approved the admission of 21 new Member Universities, thus increasing RUFORUM footprint from 105 universities to 126 universities in 38 African nations. The admitted universities included; Universite’ Nationale d’Agriculture and University of Parakou (Benin); L’Universite De Bamenda (Cameroun); Universite’ Officielle de Bukavu, Universite’ de Kisangani (Democratic Republic of Congo); Aksum University (Ethiopia); Cape Coast Technical University, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, University of Education Winneba, Koforidua Technical University (Ghana); Maseno University (Kenya); Federal University Dutsin-ma, Federal University of Agriculture Abeokuta, Nnamdi Azikiwe University (Nigeria); Somalia National University (Somalia); University of Mpumalanga (South Africa); West Kordufan University (Sudan); Nkumba University (Uganda); Mulungushi University ( Zambia); Marondera University of Agricultural Sciences and Technology, Midlands State University (Zimbabwe). The Executive Secretary informed Members that due diligence is undertaken by RUFORUM before undertaking the admissions. “RUFORUM continued to receive requests for membership from across the continent and for each application, the Secretariat undertakes due diligence to ensure that the applicant University is recognized in the country. Non university institutions requested and were not considered,”He said. Despite increases in RUFORUM Membership, the RUFORUM Finance and Administration Manager, Ms. Judith Nakyobe requested Members to comply towards submitting Membership subscriptions since only 19% of the universities have complied.
During the business meeting, establishment of several sub-committees was endorsed to serve the ever expanding RUFORUM Network. These sub-committees included the Audit Board sub-committee with Professor Luke Mumba, Vice Chancellor of University of Zambia, as Chair for a period of three years (2020-2022) and a sub-committee for Principals and Deans to support operations of the Principals and Deans Committee.
The Business Meeting further confirmed and approved venues for the upcoming RUFORUM Annual General meetings and Triennial conferences as; 2020 Annual General Meeting be hosted in Morocco; 2021 Annual General Meeting and Triennial Conference to be hosted in Benin; 2022 Annual General Meeting be hosted in Zimbabwe; 2024 Annual General Meeting and Triennial conference be hosted in Namibia; 2025 Annual General Meeting be hosted in Ethiopia; 2026 Annual General Meeting be hosted in Zambia; 2027 Annual General Meeting and Triennial conference be hosted in Uganda; and, 2028 Annual General Meeting to be hosted in Sudan. For periods where offers have not been received, including 2023 AGM, 2029 AGM, and 2030 AGM and triennial Conference, Members advised RUFORUM Secretariat to engages
During the business meeting, establishment of several sub-committees was endorsed to serve the ever expanding RUFORUM Network. These sub-committees included the Audit Board sub-committee with Professor Luke Mumba, Vice Chancellor of University of Zambia, as Chair for a period of three years (2020-2022) and a sub-committee for Principals and Deans to support operations of the Principals and Deans Committee.
The Business Meeting further confirmed and approved venues for the upcoming RUFORUM Annual General meetings and Triennial conferences as; 2020 Annual General Meeting be hosted in Morocco; 2021 Annual General Meeting and Triennial Conference to be hosted in Benin; 2022 Annual General Meeting be hosted in Zimbabwe; 2024 Annual General Meeting and Triennial conference be hosted in Namibia; 2025 Annual General Meeting be hosted in Ethiopia; 2026 Annual General Meeting be hosted in Zambia; 2027 Annual General Meeting and Triennial conference be hosted in Uganda; and, 2028 Annual General Meeting to be hosted in Sudan. For periods where offers have not been received, including 2023 AGM, 2029 AGM, and 2030 AGM and triennial Conference, Members advised RUFORUM Secretariat to engages in dialogue with potential hosting countries. Prior to the close of the business meeting Ms. Shona Bezanson, Head of the Eastern and Southern Africa Partners Network, Scholars Program, Mastercard Foundation delivered remarks on behalf of development partners. She applauded RUFORUM for upholding the values of the Mastercard Foundation.
what has struck me most about this gathering is the way in which RUFORUM perfectly reflects some of the values and approaches Mastercard Foundation holds dear. And that all of us as development partners should cherish and emulate”, She said.
Amongst these values included coming together for a shared goal, working together to achieve the best outcomes, leveraging one another’s strengths and assets, listening to each other and generously sharing insight and experience for leaning purposes. “This is a very powerful network – both in scope and depth. It is mission oriented, it is owned by its members, and it lives here, in Africa” She noted.
The Regional Universities Forum for Capacity Building in Agriculture (RUFORUM) 15th Annual General Meeting officially opened on Thursday, the 5th of December 2019 at the New Examination Centre, University of Cape Coast, Ghana. The meeting was being hosted by the Government of Ghana and the five Ghanaian RUFORUM Member Universities: University of Cape Coast, University of Ghana-Legon, University of Development Studies, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, and University of Education-Winneba. The event, presided over by the President of the Republic of Ghana, H.E. Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, through his Minister Hon Prof. Kwabena Frimpong-Boateng,. Minister of Environment, Science, Technology & Innovation of the Republic of Ghana attracted 257 dignitaries across Africa and beyond, including development partners and senior African Policy Makers.
H.E. President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, President of the Republic of Ghana officially opened the 15th RUFORUM Annual General Meeting where he called on Member States to explore all possible mechanisms that will make agriculture attractive to the youth, including leveraging on Science, Technology and Innovations. He informed the delegation that the Government of Ghana commits to work with other Member States to: a) implement an Africa-wide Initiative to Build Africa’s Science, Technology and Innovation Capacity (BASTIC); b) establish centres of excellence in Science Technology and Innovations (ST&I) and Entrepreneurship development in Ghana and other Member States; and, c) work through RUFORUM to strengthen staff capacities in our universities and technical colleges and increase the pool of women scientists in our countries. He further pledged to increase access to education for all Ghanaians and make higher education and Technical and vocational education key drivers of economic development.
This was followed by Remarks from the Executive Secretary of RUFORUM, Prof. Adipala Ekwamu who recognized Dr. Bharati Patel, formerly with the Rockefeller Foundation. He highlighted that Dr. Bharati Patel believed in students as the Change Agents warranting the need to work with and invest in Young people towards rural transformation in Africa. He informed the delegation that RUFORUM was founded in response to the imminent food insecurity with a requirement to galvanize capacity in African universities to address food insecurity. “RUFORUM was set up to provide a platform for training Young People from different African Regions-Students that really love the Continent”, he said.
The Honorable Dr. Matthew Opoku Prempeh, Minister of Education, Republic of Ghana highlighted the need to leverage the collective capacities of the universities and utilize all available resources; and to establish measures for building the capacity of universities to engage the youth and make agriculture productive, attractive and more rewarding. He also highly commended the proposed RUFORUM regional programs for youth agriprenuership; science capacity development; staff capacity and increasing the pool of women scientists. “We need to leverage the collective capacities of the universities and utilize all available resources. We should acknowledge that several institutions have pockets of excellence that can be leveraged for collective capacity”, he said
The Honorable Dr. Becky Ndjoze-Ojo Deputy Minister of Higher Education, Training and Innovation, Government of Namibia applauded Vice Chancellors of African universities
for the initiative to work together and to support especially training of scholars in different African countries, an intervention geared towards achieving Pan-Africanism and regional integration. She noted that the Government of the Republic of Namibia reaffirms its commitment to host the 2024 RUFORUM Triennial Conference in Windhoek. “My Government applauds the Vice Chancellors of African universities for this initiative to work together and to support especially training of scholars in different African countries. This talks well to the thrusts of our leaders to promote Pan-Africanism and regional integration”, She said.
Amongst other key events at the official opening of the AGM was the prelude to the Launch of Prof. Adipala Ekwamu’s Memoirs “The Unfinished Journey” by Megan Lindow; awards to 20 Young Entrepreneurs from West Africa, four outstanding educationists from Ghana, three Ghanaian Young Scientists, and one award to the Government of Ghana for excellent leadership and management contributing to education policy and the development of higher education and agriculture in Africa. It was against such Awards that Prof. Kwabena Frimpong Boateng, Minister of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation, Republic of Ghana, called for a favorable environment and education framework that recognizes the individual talent.
You will agree with me that these, similar to the awards yesterday, provide a glimmer of hope for our continent. We need to nurture this entrepreneurial spirit and capacity of our youngsters. It is then, and only then that we can hold our heads up high and know that there will be a future for the African continent, He said.
The meeting dubbed the Vice Chancellors forum was part of the side events at the 15th RUFORUM Annual General Meeting, 2-6 December 2019 hosted by the University of Cape Coast – Ghana. The meeting that attracted 155 participants met at the School of Medical Sciences, University of Cape Coast, Ghana and discussed avenues for “enhancing delivery of Africa’s Universities’ Agenda for Higher Education, Science, Technology and Innovation (AHESTI)” and “re-engineering Universities in Africa to deliver transformative graduates and innovations.”
Prof. Joseph Ghartey Ampiah, Vice Chancellor, University of Cape Coast-Ghana delivered the welcome address to the Vice Chancellors forum. In his opening address he commended the forum as a platform for consensus building on issues of common interest to RUFORUM member institutions and other higher educational and research institutions on the continent. “This meeting affords us the opportunity to contemplate in detail how we propose to lead our respective universities and countries as well as RUFORUM to become regionally and globally competitive in terms of the outputs that characterize the work we do-teaching, research, and outreach”, He said. He further elaborated five defining characteristics of robust higher educational systems and amongst these included the tendency towards autonomy; a right balance between freedom of academic enquiry, faculty independence, and a style of university leadership; complexity; clearly defined communities of which they are part; and, ability to embrace and indeed to forge new styles of partnership. He concluded by sharing two types of institutions that are most likely not to succeed and amongst these included universities which refuse to change, which become imprisoned in their own traditions, however hallowed, and allow opportunities to pass them by; and, those which follow trendily every new initiative and become prey to the virus of mere enthusiasm.
The meeting was presided over by Dr. Brian Mushimba, Minister of Higher EDUCATION, Republic of Zambia who delivered the key note address. Hon. Prof. Aiah Gbakima, Minister of Technical and Higher Education, Sierra Leone was the Lead speaker and a team of five panelists from Ghana, Namibia and Dr. Florence Nakayiwa Mayega Deputy Executive Secretary RUFORUM. Mushimba applauded RUFORUM for creating a platform where African universities can share progress towards contributing to the development agendas of the respective countries. The minister called upon African nations to undertake more investment in higher education due to the increasing population that does not match with the available resource envelop. The Minister noted that Zambia is currently implementing 7th National Development Plan with four strategic objectives including; to diversify and make economic growth inclusive; improve competitiveness and innovativeness; strengthen governance and institutional mechanisms to navigate the country towards Vision 2030; and, enforce sustainable environmental social and economic principles. He concluded by highlighting several actions that could be undertaken to strengthen Agricultural Higher Education, Science, Technology and Innovation (AHESTI) and amongst these included the need for prioritizing research and development; human resource development and accreditation of curriculum; incentivizing researchers to attract research funds; collaborating with partners implementing continental and regional initiatives to strengthen STI; and, recognizing the role of RUFORUM.
The general discussions resulted into generation of several issues including incentivizing researchers, limited research infrastructure, parity in promoting research in both public and private universities, preparing Science students for undertaking leadership positions, male domination in the science disciplines, and recruiting innovative students into the Universities to make science work for Africa. During the Panel discussions, Prof. Kenneth Matengu, Vice Chancellor, University of Namibia highlighted several recommendations for a competitive higher education system amongst which included empowering students to undertake leadership in contributing towards solving imminent problems facing the continent; and the need for universities to teach ethics, entrepreneurship and sustainable development across all degree programmes.
Prof. Kwesi Yankah, Minister of State for Tertiary Education, Ghana highlighted several issues affecting technical education in Ghana including the conversion of Polytechnics into technical Universities. He noted that such challenges have been tackled through enactment of the National Research and Innovation funds bill to support research related to national priorities; increase of lecturer-student contact hours in sciences by 54 hrs; and, publicity of polytechniques through international events.
Prof. Aba A. Bentil Andam, President, Ghana Institute of Physics recommended the need for collaboration and regarded the PhD as the end of the apprenticeship. Further suggested the need for financial backing from African governments to support research; offering liberty to students to select own supervisors. We need to get speaking to each other in English, Portuguese and French.” He said.
Dr. Florence Nakayiwa Mayega, Deputy Executive Secretary, RUFORUM Secretariat recommended the need for connected universities, promotion of Community Action Research Programmes (CARP) to attract Youth into Agriculture. Further noted that the Regional Anchor Universities under the RUFORUM RANCH Flagship Programme are vital in promoting research excellence in Agriculture, while the GRADUATE Teaching Assistantship Programme promotes Africa based support, beyond the external support received. She requested members to think about the measures to take towards protecting intellectual property in the Universities.
During the session on re-engineering Universities in Africa to deliver transformative graduates and innovations Prof. Jose Zagul, President Emeritus, EARTH University, Costa Rica presented a lead paper that highlighted several lessons for strengthening higher education including providing opportunity to academically weak students with demonstrated leadership qualities; and, the need to exploit experiential and participatory learning to make a big difference in the educational process. The discussions generated several issues including existence of age-limits for retooling professionals which may render several above-age professors unqualified, the need for scientists to embrace social science skills as part of community engagement, the need for multidisciplinary approach on the curriculum including community engagement to address societal problems, and the need to undertake experiential learning, education to consider ethical issues through embracing student-centered learning, connecting students with local communities whilst embedding various practical topics in the curriculum; and, retooling university faculty.
Visit http://www.ruforum.org/AGM2019/ for more details
Kampala 21, January 2020 As part of the 15th Annual General Meeting activities held in December 2019 at the University of Cape Coast Ghana, the Regional Universities Forum for Capacity Building in Agriculture (RUFORUM) organised a Joint Meeting of Ministers responsible for Agriculture, Education & Training, Science, Technology and Innovation on 5th December 2019 and Development Partners. This Ministerial Policy Dialogue Round Table focused on promoting Africa wide cooperation in the Field of Agriculture, Higher Education, Science, Technology and Innovation.
The Dialogue was a follow up to the previous Ministerial meetings held in October 2016 in Cape Town, South Africa and in October 2018 in Nairobi, Kenya. These meetings agreed on key action points and tasked RUFORUM to consult with Member States and other Actors to develop Regional/ Continental initiatives to strengthen Higher Agricultural Education, Science, Technology and Innovation in African universities, so that the universities are better placed to contribute to meeting development needs of the Member States and attainment of Agenda 2063.
In the same vein, the Committee of Ten Heads of State Summit (C10) of November 2018 in Lilongwe, Malawi tasked RUFORUM to engage African universities to respond to key development challenges and strategies aimed at accelerating attainment of the aspirations outlined in key continental frameworks especially the Comprehensive Africa Agricultural Development Programme (CAADP), Science, Technology and Innovation Strategy for Africa (STISA) and the Continental Education Strategy for Africa (CESA), amongst others.
The Regional Universities Forum for Capacity Building in Agriculture (RUFORUM) presents to you the Country Statements and Ministerial Communique as outcomes of the Ministerial Policy Dialogue Round Table dialogue which deliberated on the participation of Member States in five continental initiatives that were developed by RUFORUM Secretariat based on the recommendations of the Ministerial meetings of October 2016 held in Cape Town, South Africa, October 2018 held in Nairobi, Kenya, and tasks assigned to RUFORUM by the Committee of Ten Heads of State Summit (C10) of 2-3 November 2018 in Lilongwe, Malawi. The RUFORUM Secretariat will reach out to the Member States and Development Partners to follow up on the key recommendations of the Ghana deliberations and C10 tasks assigned to RUFORUM.
By Redempter Mbula Mutinda
Marakwet and Pokot communities were not something new to my ears. No one who studied Social studies subject in Kenyan primary education would miss studying Nilotes and the Kalenjin tribe, sub-ethnic groups. All media houses in Kenya could at times highlight news about cattle raiding conflicts in Baringo, Elgeyo Marakwet and West Pokot border along Kerio Valley. Despite being passionate about working and empowering people at grass root levels to realize their livelihoods through exploitation of their full potential through agriculture-based activities, I never pictured myself working with pastoral and post-conflicting communities. When I got the opportunity, the excitement I felt at the thought of meeting the Pokot and Marakwet people and being in the ‘famous Kerio valley’ overcame all the fears I had.
I was eager to experience ‘nomadism’ and see large herds of livestock at an up-close. Being from an ASAL region, Machakos, where livestock keeping is a source of livelihood, I knew the experiences and lessons learnt would also benefit my community. The over 500 Km distance from Nairobi to Kerio valley, felt like a 150 Km travel. I used a flight from Nairobi to Eldoret, shortening the journey by 6 hours. Getting down the valley was scenic; I had never seen a road with abnormally many corners. I stayed in the valley for two weeks interacting with Marakwet and Pokot communities; I appreciated the rich culture of the two communities.
My biggest focus was fodder; hence, I was eager to find out how they fed their large herds of livestock. It was to my surprise that the first farmer I visited, in Chesongoch, a Marakwet, had about 10 cattle and a few sheep and goats. Two cows that were being milked, were a Friesian and Ayrshire breeds. I could see some Napier grass growing near the homestead. That got me excited to interact more with the farmer and understand the difference between what was in my mind and reality that welcomed me in Kerio Valley. “All the animals I had kept were taken by Pokots long ago, all the ones you are seeing I have bought them”, the farmer narrated. From the conversations, I understood that the farmer opted to keep animals that he can manage to feed and avoid their long-distance movements in search of pasture. He had a store where he kept bags of acacia and green grams pods, ready for the dry season. That was the trend for Marakwet people, a few number of livestock kept, grazing within their homesteads. The Marakwet people were so welcoming and open to let others know about their culture. They value livestock and were willing to take up fodder growing and commercialization. Some farmers indicated how dairy enterprises were promising in the area and felt fodder availability would make it thrive. Marakwet old women use animal skin to cover themselves wherever they go, as it is hard.
The experience with the Pokot community was completely different from the Marakwet community. I could find large herds of Zebu cattle along the roads alongside young men who were dressed in a wrap garment around the waist, big loop earrings, headgears and holding sticks. The Pokot were full of cultural practices and very proud of it. They were nomads and I could rarely find a permanent homestead. An elder and chief gave me an overview of the area, indicating that the Pokots were mainly pastoralists with very few who had adopted farming.
I had an encounter with a ‘Loserokow’, the one who is respected by the community along the Kerio Valley. He was a serious commercial farmer, doing kales, beans, maize, bananas and the tomatoes under irrigation. It was impressive to find a transformed Pokot man; He said he was so proud of enjoying his hard work rather than risking his life in the cattle raiding. The workers on his farm were so happy to get their livelihood from working on the farm. The Kolowa market traders were buying his farm produce daily. After explaining the fodder project to the farmer, he was willing to do a demonstration plot for his community to see and implement.
Then I met a hardworking Pokot woman, who believed that their place is dry land but that should not mean dry brains. She was doing controlled grazing and had a dam on the farm. She said that the dam would sustain water all through the dry period until it rained again. Her livestock would never lack water and grass throughout the year. It was fascinating to see her kitchen gardening integrated with livestock keeping. She had placed vegetable grown in sacks as goats and sheep would feed on them if placed on the ground.
As an agribusiness person, I saw many opportunities in the region that could be undertaken by the communities to improve their livelihoods. Fodder commercialization would be a lucrative business supported by other enterprises such as dairy, mangoes and apiculture. My encounter with Kerio Valley and communities living there was an exciting experience. I never understood why it was called ‘Valley of death’ yet I saw a scenic valley full of opportunities and hope.
I take this opportunity to thank the Regional Universities Forum for Capacity Building in Agriculture (RUFORUM) and International Crops Research Institute for semi-arid Tropics (ICRISAT) for the opportunity to be part of Crop-livestock integration project at Kerio Valley. Special appreciation goes to the people of Kerio Valley for their warm welcome and cooperation during the entire stay. I also extend my gratitude to Chesongoch Mission fraternity for their host.
Kampala 16, January 2020 The 15th Annual General Meeting which took place at the University of Cape Coast in Ghana from 2-6 December 2019 ended with the appointment of key individuals to the various Governance organs of the Regional Universities Forum for Capacity Building in Agriculture (RUFORUM) and at the Secretariat. These new appointments are for positions of; Board Deputy Chairperson, Chairperson of the International Advisory Panel, Chairperson of the Principals and Deans Committee and the appointment of the new Knowledge Management Specialist for RUFORUM. We are pleased to present to you the new appointees.
- Professor Theresa Nkuo-Akenji, RUFORUM Deputy Board Chairperson
Professor Theresa Nkuo-Akenji, Vice Chancellor, University of Bamenda in Cameroon was appointed the New Deputy Board Chair for RUFORUM during the 15th Annual General Meeting that took place at the University of Cape Coast on 6th December 2019. She replaces Prof. Ophelia Inez Weeks, the former Vice Chancellor University of Liberia. Prof. Nkuo-Akenji will work closely with the Board Chair Prof. George Kanyama-Phiri in providing strategic guidance to the Board and the Network at Large.
- David Neilson, Chairperson, International Advisory Panel of RUFORUM
The new Chairperson of the RUFORUM International Advisory Panel (IAP), Dr David Neilson from USA worked with the World Bank Group in Washington as Lead Agriculture Economist until his retirement. He brings to the Network a wealth of experience in International Development. The International Advisory Panel (IAP), a sub-committee of the RUFORUM Board, plays a key role in supporting the Board and the Secretariat to position the RUFORUM network to take advantage of the opportunities in, particularly, the external environment. Composed of eight individuals from both within and outside Africa, the IAP brings together high level individuals with a wealth of experience and that are strategically placed to support RUFORUM to better understand the external environment. The IAP meets regularly through physical, as well as during on-line meetings. During the 15th Annual General Meeting, the new team of the IAP members chaired by Dr David Neilson met to explore collaborative partnership opportunities for RUFORUM.
- Elvis Asare Bediako, Chairperson Principals and Deans Committee
Prof. Elvis Asare-Bediako the new Chairperson for the Principals and Deans Committee is from Ghana and replaces Prof. Prof Stephen Gitahi Kiama who was recently appointed the Vice Chancellor of University of Nairobi (UoN) in Kenya. Professor Asare-Bediako is the current Dean of School of Agriculture at the University of Cape Coast (UCC), Ghana. He holds a Doctorate Degree in Plant and Environmental Sciences from the University of Warwick, UK, with specialization in Plant Virology. He also holds Master of Philosophy Degree in Crop Science (Plant Pathology), Bachelor of Science in General Agriculture, and Diploma in Education, all from University of Cape Coast. He specializes in virus diseases of horticultural, vegetable and food crops, with special interests in virus characterization, diagnostics, plant-virus-vector interactions, and development of integrated crop improvement strategies. He has conducted a number of scientific research works including breeding for high yielding and virus resistant crops. He has been involved in releasing a number of high yielding cowpea varieties that are resistant to viruses, striga and drought and two white flesh and three yellow flesh cassava (high beta carotene content) which are resistant to cassava mosaic disease.
- Nada Siddig Abdalla Musa, Knowledge Management Specialist
Nada Siddig Abdalla Musa from Sudan has been appointed the New Knowledge Management Specialist at the RUFORUM Secretariat. She is currently pursuing PhD study in Agricultural and Rural Innovation at Makerere University; she holds MSc in Agricultural Information and Communication Management from Egerton University; MSc in Computer Engineering and Networks from University of Gezira and BSc. in Electronics Engineering (Hons) from Sudan University of Science and Technology. Nada started her career as an Information Technologist at the Administration of Human Resource Development and Information Management of the Agricultural Research Corporation (ARC, Sudan) (2004-2014). Nada has more than 10 years’ experience in Computer and Networks development, and a wealth of experience in Information and Knowledge Management mainly in Agriculture field.
We welcome all the new appointees and wish them well in their new assignments. We believe that they will each add value to the Network.