The Regional Universities Forum for Capacity Building in Agriculture (RUFORUM) Secretariat hosted the Honorable Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation of the Government of Uganda on Friday 8th July 2022. The visit was for the Minister to have a glimpse of RUFORUM work in action. The visit provided an opportunity for Hon Musenero to familiarize herself with the university- community engagement program under RUFORUM. The Minister’s visit followed on the backdrop of the Exhibition put up as part of the activities for Mastercard Foundation team visit to the RUFORUM Secretariat. RUFORUM in partnership with the Mastercard Foundation is implementing the Transforming African Agricultural Universities to meaningfully contribute to Africa’s Growth and Development (TAGDev). Program activities which include the Community Action Research Program that aligns research and innovations to community advancement through increased productivity and product development to improve incomes and livelihoods. It targets especially youth entrepreneurship in practice, through student product development and enterprises.
Universities participating at the exhibition were able to showcase their potential to harness available resources to produce context specific products that can be sold on both the local and the international market. The enterprises initiated and nurtured at the universities have created jobs for the students and other youths, for the small holder farmers and the communities most especially in the rural areas, and a host of other actors along the value chains have benefited. Universities participating in the exhibition included Bishop Stuart University based at Mbarara, Makerere University in Kampala, Gulu University in Northern Uganda and Uganda Martyr’s University Nkozi in Masaka, Central Uganda. Focus value chains at the exhibition included, hibiscus, potatoes, banana fiber, piggery, rice, sun flower, and black soldier larvae for livestock feeding, among others. The community-university enterprise development and youth empowerment demonstrates proof of concept for a model that can be adopted and or taken to scale in Uganda and other countries in Africa, including under the newly adopted Parish Development Model in Uganda. The Minister affirmed the need for continued engagement between academia, policy, private sector and community to come up with workable solutions for development, including import substitution.
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