The Regional Universities Forum for Capacity Building in Agriculture (RUFORUM) has organized a proposal Write-shop as part of its effort to mobilise and strengthen research capacity in African agricultural universities and research institutions. The Write-shop targets developing proposals for submission to African Union Research Grants 2018 Call for proposals with a deadline of 22nd May 2018. The Write-shop which is taking place from 16th to 20th April 2018 in Entebbe, Uganda was supported by PAEPARD under the capacity building Work Package and the private sector and university engagement of the mastercard foundation TAGDev Project, universities contributions, and participants own contributions.
The writeshop has brought together over 120 participants from 18 African countries and two European countries and focuses on building capacity of African researchers to design research projects that integrate diverse stakeholders including researchers, private sector, farmer organisations, and civil society to strengthen the relevance of research in addressing rural development, and national and regional challenges. It has also provided a platform for African researchers to network and link across the continent to collaboratively develop and implement projects beyond the current African Union Research Grants 2018 Call for proposals.
The African Union Commission (AUC) launched Phase 2 of the African Union Research Grants programme (AURG) with an open call for proposals for Research and Innovation in Africa, supported by the European Union (EU) under the Pan-African Programme (PanAf). This Call supports the Africa’s Science, Technology and Innovation Strategy-2024 (STISA 2024) which addresses the aspirations identified under the AU’s Agenda 2063 and Priority 3 (Human Development) of the EU-Africa Partnership. The 2018 Call supports research on Enhanced Food, Nutrition Security and Sustainable Agriculture (FNSSA) with particular attention on Agriculture and food systems for nutrition.
In his welcome and opening remarks to participants, Prof. Adipala Ekwamu the Executive Secretary of RUFORUM said that “No economy can advance without a strong research and innovation capacity, and mobilizing actors to work together is a key success factor. He reassured the participants that RUFORUM Secretariat is there to serve all the member universities, adding that RUFORUM however, does not work in Isolation but also with non-member universities and non-university actors in Africa and the world over.
Jennie Van der Mheen from Wageningen University shared some tips with participants attending the writeshop. She said that the issues facing communities today are many and complex, and exist at a wide range of scales and as such, universities need to come up with more practical and realistic solutions to these issues. One of the ways in which universities can do that is through partnerships which are increasingly becoming the answer for many of these community challenges. She said, these partnerships must however be well thought through and should involve many stakeholders to offer more solutions.
The participants were introduced to the “Market place” by the Lead facilitator Mr. Gerald den Ouden who encouraged them to look through areas of research that were of interest to them and or their universities/ institutions, as a basis for forming working groups. The workshop is divided into plenary sessions, topical presentations, peer review and group work around proposal topics:
After the 5 days, some of the expectations of the participants were to network, be able to understand the concept of writing proposals, to write and complete their concept notes, come up with a sound project structure and above all to write the winning proposals on behalf of their institutions.
 Benin, Burkina Faso, Cote d’Ivoire, DRC, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, South Africa, Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe
 Belgium and Netherlands