Makerere University, a partner in the Commonwealth of Learning’s (COL), recently briefed Ugandan parliamentarians on COL’s Lifelong Learning for Farmers (L3F) Model. This dialogue was organised to address the role of parliamentarians and academia in design and implementation of legislative initiatives in relation to food and nutritional security. It also discussed the possibility of initiating efforts to harmonise policies to enhance food and nutrition security.
The meeting was held as part of the Food and Agriculture Organization’s (FAO) support for the Pan-African Parliamentary Alliance for Food and Nutrition Security which aims at strengthening the capacities of parliamentarians in Africa to legislate on food and nutrition security.
In 2017, FAO partnered with the Regional Universities Forum for Capacity Building in Agriculture (RUFORUM), a network with 85-member Universities in 36 African Countries of which Makerere University is a member, to implement community engagement activities through competitive grants to young graduates. These grants, awarded under the Community Field Attachment Program Awards (CFAPA), are administered by RUFORUM which was represented at the meeting by Dr. Paul Nampala, the Grants Manager, and Dr. Sylvia Chindime Mkandawire, the Training and Quality Assurance Manager. The CFAPA activities provide opportunity to engage with various stakeholders in the agriculture, food and nutrition sector.
The L3F Model entails experiential learning as a life-long learning approach for promoting uptake of research outputs and thus aligns with tenets of the CFAPA. The Members of Parliament, drawn from the Uganda Parliamentarians Forum on Food Security, Population and Development and the Uganda Parliamentarians Forum on Food and Nutrition, were interested in understanding how the L3F Model could address challenges in agriculture in the country like low and declining agricultural productivity, poor extension services and access to value added technologies by smallholder farmers in Uganda. Experts from the College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences at Makerere University (CAES) shared their experience in design and application of experiential learning models.
At the conclusion of the dialogue, the Members of Parliament recommended that both FAO and RUFORUM should engage them more regularly. A quarterly meeting was thus proposed to ensure continued and effective engagement of legislators. RUFORUM was also requested to nominate a representative to attend, as an observer, the sector-wide meetings hosted by the Prime Minister’s Office of the Government of Uganda.