RUFORUM is a network of 114 Universities in 38 African countries with mission to strengthen the capacities of universities to foster innovations for strengthening agri-food systems through the training of high quality researchers, the output of impact oriented research and the maintenance of collaborative working relations among researchers, farmers, national agricultural research institutions and governments.
The RUFORUM Fifteenth Annual General Meeting , will be held 2 – 6 December 2019 in Cape Coast, Ghana along the theme “Delivering on Africa’s Universities Agenda for Higher Agricultural Education, Science, Technology and Innovation (AHESTI): What will it take?”. The event will bring together over 500 participants from a wide range of delegates including Ministers of Agriculture and Education and their respective Permanent Secretaries, Vice Chancellors, Principals and Deans, partners and Heads of development institutions, private sector leaders, farmers and farmer representatives, emerging and early career researchers and young entrepreneurs from especially Ghana and other West African countries. Universities, private sector actors and young entrepreneurs shall have the opportunity to showcase their innovations, products and services, network and broker partnerships with one another. The meeting will be co-organized by RUFORUM, and all the RUFORUM Member Universities in Ghana and other partners.
As part of strengthening dissemination of research outputs and lesson sharing RUFORUM invites interested authors (University researchers, researchers and scientists from National, regional and international Research Institutes, Higher Education stakeholders and beneficiaries of RUFORUM supported projects, including postgraduates students and their supervisors) to submit posters (for examples and guidelines of developing poster please see below). The deadline for submission is 20th October, 2019. All participants wishing to present posters are expected to prepare, print and carry poster(s) for display during the AGM.
Tips for designing your poster
When designing your poster think about how people read posters. You want to grab the attention of participants at a busy conference with several side-events, parallel sessions and networking events.
There are lots of ways of doing a good poster but below are some key points to consider:
1) A good poster uses illustrations to draw the reader to and communicate the topic of the poster without the reader having to spend much time reading text.
2) Think about your title – an interesting title which gets to the heart of what the poster is about and why it matters is more attractive than a technically correct title with scientific names and lots of jargon.
3) No text on the poster should be too small to read from a distance of about 1.8m (6 feet). The bigger the better (within reason).
4) Generally you may have to redraw your figures and illustrations for your poster – not just cut and paste them from a paper or thesis chapter. The rules about being able to read text from 1.8m applies even more so to the legends and axes on graphs, plates, and other illustrations.
5) The RUFORUM AGM 2019 brings together a very diverse audience and interdisciplinary participants. To effectively engage this diverse audience please consider to avoid technical jargon and acronyms.
6) Think about the conversation message of your poster. Could someone get to the end of your poster and think ‘so what?’ If so then you need to be more explicit about why this work matters and how it is aligned to the theme and sub-themes.
7) Do consider including a picture of yourself (maybe in the field) so that someone who reads your poster and wants to meet you to learn more can easily find you.
8) Don’t forget to include names of collaborators and logos of funders or your host institution.
9) Tell us how to find out more – you can include a web or email address or even a website link, and feel free to provide a sign-up sheet where people can leave their contacts (e.g., email address) if they want to hear more. If you are on Twitter consider uploading your poster to a slide share website such as http://www.slideshare.net/ and tweeting your poster with the AGM hashtag (this can attract people to your poster for a chat as well as allowing those following the AGM deliberations from afar to see your work).
10) The more creative and imaginative the better in terms of effectively attracting participants to view and internalize contents of your poster!
Poster and Poster Board Design Layout
- Poster Board dimensions will be as follows (Height: 180cm, Width: 180cm as indicated in figure A below. Please note that one poster board is for 2 posters.
- If proposed Poster size is A0 then poster dimensions will be as follows:(Height: 118.9cm, Width: 84.1cm) as indicated in figure B Below
- Depending on the nature of the floor layout, one poster board can accommodate 4 posters if placed back to back
Submission and Review of posters
Dowload complete Call-for-Poster for RUFORUM AGM 2019 (002)
Since 2011, EARTH University and the Mastercard Foundation (MCF) have partnered to provide educational opportunity to young leaders whose academic talent and promise exceed their financial resources, to support them in transforming the future of developing regions, particularly Africa. More than 130 MCF Scholars have graduated from EARTH after an intensive, experiential 4-year program in agriculture and natural resources management, and the vast majority of these Scholars has returned to their countries and communities to lead social, environmental and economic transformation back home.
However, many educated and high-potential youth lack the skills, knowledge, and networks to activate their entrepreneurial ideas and/or transition to the world of work to create impact in their families, communities, and countries. Young people from socio-economically disadvantaged backgrounds can face challenges because of limited personal or social capital, and young women and displaced youth in particular face additional disadvantages. EARTH and MCF recognize that these challenges faced by returning MCF Scholar graduates are significant. With this in mind, in 2020 the two organizations will launch the new EARTH-MCF Graduate Fellowship, a program of competitive, remunerated post-graduate fellowships for EARTH and MCF Scholar alumni focused on agriculture and rural development. The Fellowship Program will support professional development and entrance to employment and entrepreneurship that will accelerate Scholars’ impact on the continent.
As part of the Fellowship, EARTH will provide transition pathways to employment and entrepreneurship through one-year placements in select African countries across four tracks:
- The Agricultural Employment Track provides opportunities for graduates to establish a foothold into careers in the future of agriculture and food systems, through placements with partner institutions in the private, public or social sectors.
- The Agricultural Entrepreneurship Track provides support to graduates in launching their own market-based endeavors focused on innovative solutions to challenges in agriculture and rural development.
- The Agricultural Education Track provides opportunities, including teaching, with secondary education and technical, vocational, education and training (TVET) institutions in Africa to support the expansion of innovation and best practices in agricultural education.
- The Agricultural Innovation through Science and Research Track will place graduates interested in careers in agricultural research in national and international research organizations, universities and other institutions.
During one-year placement opportunities beginning in January each year, Fellows will receive a modest monthly stipend in addition to mentoring and other services to support their career development and impact potential. EARTH will also organize periodic convenings among Fellows in Africa as spaces for peer-to-peer learning and continuing education. For the first 3 years, only recent EARTH graduates will be eligible to apply; following this initial period, the program will be open to all recent alumni of the MCF Scholars Program network. The Fellowship program will facilitate and accelerate transitions for 140 Scholars over the next 8 years to realize their potential and exercise their abilities as catalytic change leaders in and for Africa. The Fellowship Program will play an important role in establishing best practices and contribute to evidence building that informs the creation of viable pathways to transition from school to work.
Beginning in August 2019, EARTH will be recruiting the Fellowship management team and will actively be seeking partnerships for placements, mentoring, expert-led webinars and operational logistics in Africa. To learn more about the program and explore these partnership opportunities, please contact us at Fellowship@earth.ac.cr.
EARTH University, established in Costa Rica at the close of the Central American civil wars in 1986, was founded on the premise that a new generation of leaders would be key to achieving peace and shared prosperity among rural communities struggling with poverty, conflict and environmental deterioration. With this transformative premise in mind, EARTH set out to train and prepare future generations of values-driven leaders for rural areas; to alleviate poverty, promote social justice and build a future where communities achieve sustainable and shared prosperity.
EARTH’s educational model is unique. The University was conceived and established as an institution of higher education focused on the learner and the learning process. Aspects of the program that make it distinctly different from other institutions include an individualized admissions process based on non-traditional selection criteria, in which all short-listed candidates have personal and group interviews with EARTH faculty and staff. Students are active participants in a highly experiential, integrated and multi-disciplinary curriculum that seeks to balance self-directed learning with teacher-directed learning. EARTH’s program focuses on nurturing an entrepreneurial spirit, concern for the welfare of the community, and strong environmental ethos in every student. Finally, the development of values and personal responsibility is emphasized and there is an expectation that graduates will “go back and give back” to their countries of origin.
Over the past three decades, the University has consolidated an established platform for rural leadership education that has provided holistic undergraduate education in agricultural sciences and natural resources management to more than 2,300 graduates from 41 countries around the world (including 16 African nations). Nearly 90% of EARTH’s students come from rural areas, all of whom study thanks to full or partial scholarships.
EARTH has received African students since 2000 and has established collaboration with multiple African tertiary institutions and others, and through this work has become a respected partner in efforts to assist universities in better meeting the needs of their students and society.
In March 2018, EARTH launched its 2018-2022 Strategic Plan under the leadership of its new President and following extensive consultations with the entire EARTH community and many external stakeholders. As EARTH aims to significantly grow the impact of the University and extend its reach to millions of rural people, it will strengthen relationships with graduates in order to increase shared impact in graduate communities across developing countries and regions. The renewed partnership with MCF, including the Fellowship Program, offers EARTH an important opportunity to grow its impact in Africa through its growing network of graduates.
In partnership with the Mastercard Foundation, EARTH is launching a Fellowship Program in Africa to support graduates with yearlong placements to secure productive economic livelihoods for themselves, create opportunities for dignified employment for others, and to realize their potential as change agents for the future of Africa. The Fellowship Program has been developed in recognition of the challenges inherent in the transition from university to the world of work, particularly for graduates from disadvantaged backgrounds. The Program, which will initially be open to EARTH’s African graduates and eventually to African graduates from all Mastercard Foundation partner institutions, will be offered along four tracks:
- The Agricultural Employment Track will provide opportunities to establish a foothold into careers in the future of agriculture and food systems.
- The Agricultural Education Track will provide placement opportunities in secondary education and with technical vocational education and training (TVET) institutions.
- The Agricultural Innovation through Science and Research Track will place graduates interested in careers in agricultural research in organizations, universities and other institutions.
- The Agricultural Entrepreneurship Track is designed for graduates who seek to launch their own market-based endeavors focused on innovative solutions to challenges in agriculture and rural development.
The Director, together with two additional colleagues to be selected and with assistance from key EARTH staff members, will be responsible for strengthening existing partnerships and developing new ones for Fellowships placements, coordinating a support program for Fellows including mentorship, periodic convenings, on-line support services and other activities and project administration. The Fellowship office will be located in Africa. Further detail on key responsibilities is provided below.
- Lead the roll-out process for the new Fellowship program;
- Together with key EARTH staff, recruit two additional team members to collaborate in the launch and management of the Fellowship Program;
- Identify, cultivate and formalize partnerships for Fellowship placements;
- Organize periodic Fellow convenings in Africa with tailored content to support Fellows in their professional development;
- Coordinate the selection process for Fellows and the annual cycle of the Fellowship for the first 8 cohorts of Fellows;
- In coordination with EARTH’s Communications and Alumni offices, oversee the dissemination process for the Fellowship opportunity, both among EARTH graduates and later among all MCF partner institution alumni;
- In coordination with EARTH’s Learning Director, capture and register data regarding Fellowship participants and analyze and distill learnings that serve to enrich the program and report on its impact;
- Oversee the financial and operational management of the Fellowship Program, including stipend payments to Fellows and general administration in Africa;
- Prepare periodic grant reports to share progress and key updates on the program with the Mastercard Foundation.
- Collaborate with peer institutions and contribute to the broader discussion about youth entrepreneurship and employment in Africa.
- Contribute to the growth and long-term sustainability of the program.
- Minimum 5 years of experience in project management
- Master’s degree in a relevant field
- Fluency in spoken and written English is required; Spanish, French and Portuguese proficiency is a significant plus
- Excellent interpersonal, intercultural and communication skills and experience working in multi-cultural environments
- Initiative and independence in carrying out responsibilities and the ability to think and plan strategically
- Experience in starting up new programs from scratch, flexibility and persistence in managing unknowns and change. Build on Fellowship design and implementation that has already begun
- Ability to manage a small team and work effectively with University departments and across geographies to advance the goals of the program
- Excellent organizational skills with an ability to manage multiple priorities and deadlines with accuracy and a strong results orientation
- Detail-oriented, with strong planning skills
- Interest in working closely with young people and supporting their professional development
- Passion for and personal commitment to the mission and values of EARTH University
- Knowledge of and familiarity with Africa (required); knowledge of agricultural education and sustainable development (preferred)
- Ability to think strategically and leverage African knowledge and learning mindset
- Willingness for extensive international travel, including trips to EARTH University in Costa Rica.
- A values-driven organization with a compelling mission
- An opportunity to impact the lives of young people
- Competitive compensation and benefits
- A unique professional and personal learning opportunity
- Please send a current CV and a letter explaining your interest in the position and why you believe you are uniquely qualified for the position to firstname.lastname@example.org.
African Countries have continued to face growing challenges related to infectious diseases in both human and animal populations. As a way of increasing capacity to tackle these challenges on the continent, the Zambian Government obtained a loan from the World Bank for the creation of the Africa Centre of Excellence in Infectious Diseases of Humans and Animals (ACEIDHA) at the University of Zambia (UNZA), School of Veterinary Medicine. The mandate of the Centre is the delivery of high quality research and training at MSc and PhD levels to smart, highly motivated and ambitious scientists in Africa, so as to reduce the identified critical shortage of skilled human resource in the prevention and control of infectious diseases on the continent.
The School of Veterinary Medicine boasts of the finest biomedical research facilities on the continent ranging from Biosafety Level (BSL) 2 to BSL 3 laboratories. The school also has a BSL 2 cell culture and an Animals Biosafety Level (ABSL) 2 laboratory. UNZA also boasts having highly qualified researchers and scientists who are able to offer quality student supervision and mentorship in a range of research areas. Additionally, student supervision will be done in collaboration with other internationally recognized scientists from within the continent and beyond. ACEIDHA is looking for highly qualified and motivated young African scientists interested in research in infectious diseases under the themes given below, that will culminate in obtaining MSc or PhD qualifications from the University of Zambia.
This training programme will empower graduates with knowledge and skills to improve the quality of livelihoods of people, including animals and the environment, and ultimately contributing to the attainment of some of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). In line with UNZA strategic plan, ACEIDHA is committed to the principle of gender equality and equal opportunities for all including individuals with physical disabilities and disadvantaged backgrounds (We believe in equal opportunities for all). Through the funding received from the World Bank, ACEIDHA will offer scholarships (full or partial depending on circumstances) for the period of study at the University of Zambia, to deserving applicants meeting the selection criteria and whose proposed research areas will be in line with its mission and vision. Students with other sources of funding or those who can sponsor themselves are also encouraged to apply. Download ACEIDHA Call For Applications For Masters and PhD Studies For 2019 2020 Academic Year
Professor Cheikh Mbow was appointed as the inaugural Director of Future Africa at the University of Pretoria effective September 1, 2019. Future Africa is an initiative established by the University of Pretoria as a platform to develop leadership in transdisciplinary research in Africa in order to address the grand challenges that hamper transformation towards a prosperous, equitable and sustainable future of the continent.
Until this appointment, Prof Mbow had been leading START International-Inc (2016-2019), a US-based think tank working on research and capacity building in developing countries, mostly in Africa and Asia. Before joining START, he served as a Senior Scientist on climate change and agroforestry (2011-2016) at the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) in Nairobi, Kenya. Prior to that, he was Professor at the Institute of Environmental Sciences at University Cheikh Anta Diop of Dakar, Senegal.
After his PhD in Remote Sensing and Forestry from the University of Dakar and Copenhagen University, Prof Mbow undertook his postdoctoral studies in Canada from 2002 to 2003. Soon after, he joined the University of Dakar’s Faculty of Science where he started developing various research programmes on land resources, climate change and food security within Senegal and in other African regions. He was a lead scientist for many regional and global programmes, including the GOFC-GOLD (Global Observation of Forest Cover and Land Degradation), the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change), Future Earth and IGBP (International Geosphere, Biosphere Programme).
During his tenure at Future Africa, Prof Mbow will also serve as an academic member (Professor) at the University of Pretoria’s Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Science to keep up with research activities in his area of expertise.
Prof Mbow’s vast experience in inter-, multi- and trans-disciplinary research is central to the Future Africa mission of addressing the complex problems facing Africa and the world. He will, among other responsibilities, lead and coordinate the international collaborations and partnerships necessary to achieve the task of using transdisciplinary knowledge to transform Africa into a just, economically prosperous and socially progressive continent.
Bamako, le 15 septembre 2019. Bamako a abrité les assises d’un symposium de trois jours sur l’Enseignement Supérieur au Mali, un symposium organisé par le Forum Régional des universités pour le renforcement des capacités en agriculture (RUFORUM), un réseau de 114 universités réparties dans 38 pays d’Afrique, en partenariat avec l’IPR / IFRA, le Ministère de l’Enseignement supérieur et de la Recherche scientifique, l’ONG Sasakawa Global. Les objectifs du symposium sont de (i) délibérer sur les solutions pour mieux répondre aux disparités dans l’enseignement supérieur et appuyer les étudiants défavorisés en Afrique; (ii) mobiliser le secteur privé pour qu’il joue un rôle actif dans l’Enseignement Agricole et les efforts de transformation; (iii) faire le point sur les priorités de l’Enseignement Supérieur et de l’Agriculture et les besoins de développement du Mali,; et (iv) Renforcer les liens entre le secteur de l’enseignement supérieur au Mali et le réseau d’universités RUFORUM. Depuis 2018, dans le cadre de la réalisation du programme Vision 2030 en vue de créer un réseau panafricain, RUFORUM a intensifié sa stratégie politique auprès des gouvernements africains afin de soutenir ses initiatives avec les universités membres des 38 pays africains. Pour aider le Mali dans ses efforts de transformation de l’agriculture, d’excellence dans l’enseignement supérieur et la recherche scientifique, une équipe de huit vice-chanceliers, recteurs et présidents des universités membres de RUFORUM, des organes de gouvernance de RUFORUM et d’autres parties prenantes se sont rendus au Mali durant la semaine du 9 au 14 septembre 2019 pour discuter avec les parties prenantes de l’enseignement supérieur au Mali, les décideurs et les représentants du secteur privé afin d’explorer les possibilités de partenariat et apprendre du cas du Mali. La réunion au Mali fait également partie des efforts de RUFORUM en vue d’accroître sa présence en Afrique de l’Ouest.
Une journée de réflexions et de discussions sur l’enseignement supérieur s’est tenue le 11 Septembre 2019 pour faciliter un dialogue national sur le statut et l’avenir de l’enseignement supérieur, ainsi que sur le processus de transformation de la science, de la technologie et de l’innovation au Mali. Ont participé à cette journée d’échanges les acteurs des universités et polytechniques, les décideurs politiques et les acteurs du secteur privé. La cérémonie a été officiellement ouverte par le ministre de l’Enseignement Supérieur et de la Recherche scientifique, avec les mots de bienvenue du Maire de la commune 3 et du Président du Conseil d’ Administration de RUFORUM.
Dans son allocution, le maire de la «Commune 3» a indiqué que le Mali, dans son état actuel a grand besoin d’augmenter la production agricole et la productivité par l’application de la science, de la technologie et de l’innovation. Elle a en outre souligné la nécessité de soutenir massivement les étudiants défavorisés mais méritant sur le plan académique. Le président du conseil d’administration de RUFORUM, a expliqué que l’extension récente de RUFORUM sur le continent africain répondait à l’urgence de faire progresser la transformation de l’agriculture en Afrique. Il a également souligné que l’Afrique étant dotée de ressources suffisantes, qu’il ne devrait pas y avoir de problème de faim et de pauvreté sur le continent ; ce qu’il faut, c’est un engagement soutenu et des efforts d’investissement dans l’enseignement supérieur et dans les systèmes nationaux de recherche pour combattre la faim et la pauvreté en Afrique :«Nous devons renforcer les capacités des scientifiques agricoles, des vétérinaires, des microbiologistes, des ingénieurs et des nutritionnistes», a-t-il souligné à la fin de son allocution. Enfin, dans son discours d’ouverture, le Ministre de l’Enseignement Supérieur et de la Recherche Scientifique a souligné que la science, la technologie et l’innovation restaient des moteurs puissants du développement socio-économique durable et inclusif. Il a salué l’initiative de ce colloque sur l’enseignement supérieur, qui constitue une occasion unique d’interagir et de débattre au niveau national sur les meilleurs moyens de faire avancer le Mali et le continent Africain.
Une présentation sommaire a été faite sur le statut de l’enseignement supérieur au Mali. Cela a permis au public et aux intervenants de débattre des problèmes clés et des solutions pour (i) transformer l’agriculture malienne à travers les STI, (i) financer la recherche scientifique et la technologie au Mali, (iii) accroitre la participation des femmes dans l’enseignement supérieur et dans la recherche scientifique au Mali, la participation du secteur privé au développement de la science, de la technologie et de l’innovation au Mali et la participation d’étudiants défavorisés mais méritant sur le plan académique.
La délégation du RUFORUM, présidée par le professeur George Kanyama-Phiri, a félicité le gouvernement du Mali pour les efforts en cours visant à renforcer l’agriculture et à promouvoir la science, la technologie et l’innovation pour le développement économique du Mali.
Bamako 15 September 2019. The Regional Universities Forum for Capacity Building in Agriculture (RUFORUM), a network of 114 universities across 38 countries in Africa has, in partnership with the IPR/IFRA, the Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research, the Ministry of Agriculture and Sasakawa Global, organized a three-day Higher Education Forum in Bamako, Mali to (i) deliberate on advancing Africa’s response to Higher Education disparities and support to disadvantaged students; (ii) mobilize the private sector to take active role and investment in agricultural education and transformation efforts; (iii) take stock of Higher Education and agricultural priorities and development needs of Mali, a post-conflict country; and (iv) foster linkages between the Higher Education sector in Mali and the RUFORUM network of universities. Since 2018, as part of aligning operations for delivery of the Vision 2030 to create a Pan African Network, RUFORUM strategically intensified on advocacy with African Governments to support its initiatives with the member universities in the 38 countries in Africa. To assist Mali in the efforts toward agriculture transformation, excellence in Higher Education and science research, and universities’ competitiveness, a team of eight Vice Chancellors of RUFORUM member universities, RUFORUM governance bodies and other stakeholders visited Mali the week of 9thto 14th September 2019 to engage stakeholders of Higher Education in Mali, policy makers, and private sector representatives to explore areas of partnership, and to lesson learn from Mali and each other. The Mali meeting was also part of the move by RUFORUM to increase its presence in West Africa.
As part of the process, a Higher Education Symposium Day was held on 11th September 2019 to facilitate a national dialogue on status and future of Higher Education, as well as the process of transformation of Science, Technology and Innovation in Mali with participation of Universities and Polytechnic, Policy, and Private Sector players. The meeting was opened by the Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research, with the welcoming remarks by the Mayor of Commune 3, and the RUFORUM Board Chair.
In her welcoming remarks, the Mayor of the “Commune 3”, introduced Mali’s current status as in dire need of increasing agricultural production and productivity through application of Science, technology and innovation, and the thrust to fight against rampant diseases and poverty. She further pointed out the need to provide increased focus and support to vulnerable but academically deserving students. The RUFORUM Board Chair Prof George Kayama-Phiri explained that the recent expansion of RUFORUM across the African continent is in response to the urgent need to advance the transformation of Africa’s Agriculture. He also pointed out that as Africa is endowed with enough resources, there should not be hunger and poverty in the continent; what is needed is sustained commitment and investment effort into Higher Education and research system to defeat hunger and poverty in Africa. “We need to build capacities of Agricultural Scientists, Veterinarians, Microbiologists, Engineers, and Nutritionists”. Finally in his opening speech, the Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research stressed that Science, Technology and Innovation remain powerful drivers of sustainable and inclusive socio-economic development. He welcomed the Higher Education symposium, as a unique opportunity to interact and discuss at national level, on how best to advance Mali and Africa continent.
A key paper was presented during the engagement in Mali on the Status of Higher Education in Mali with a Gender Perspective. This helped provide opportunity for the audience and the panelists to discuss key issues and solutions for transformation of Malian agriculture through STI, financing scientific research and technology in Mali, increasing the participation of women in Higher Education and scientific research in Mali, participation of private sector actors for development of Science, Technology and Innovation in Mali and participation of disadvantaged but academically deserving students in Higher Education. The RUFORUM delegation led by Prof. George Kanyama-Phiri, the Board Chair congratulated the Government of Mali for the current efforts on strengthening agriculture and promoting Science, Technology and Innovation for economic development in Mali.
The Agribusiness Incubation Hub (AIH) at Bishop Stuart University (BSU) held a Web 2.0 and Social Media training primarily for its student entrepreneurs (incubatees) to enable them extract content from the web, create content and utilize social media platforms to effectively market their products and services, among other things. Established with support from the Transforming African Agricultural Universities to meaningfully contribute to Africa’s growth and development (TAGDev) Programme, a partnership between The MasterCard Foundation and Regional Universities Forum for Capacity Building in Agriculture (RUFORUM), the Hub seeks to nurture innovative enterprises from young entrepreneurs at BSU and support linkage to potential markets. This training constituted part of its support activities.
The training was conducted from 11 – 15 March 2019 and facilitated by a team from Youth in Technology and Development Uganda (YITEDEV) led by CEO, Mr. Robert Kibaya. A total of 30 participants took part in the training; 20 incubatees, 4 members of staff from Bishop Stuart University, and 6 partners and staff of AVSI Foundation, a development partner of BSU. Concepts covered included: Web 2.0 principles, selective access to information, content curation, remote collaboration, online mapping, online conversation, blogging and the use of social media in agribusiness. Core training materials were provided by the Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation ACP-EU (CTA), based in the Netherlands. Some of the social media platforms created by the incubatees include Twitter accounts, blogs and Facebook pages. Participants with already existing accounts used the opportunity to enhance them to market their business enterprises.
On completion of the training, participants were awarded certificates by the Academic Registrar of Bishop Stuart University. Even after the training, the facilitators continued to provide follow up support to the enable the trainees effectively share information online. The students entrepreneurs expressed great appreciation for the training and for some of them the benefits were already visible. One student, Mr. Hillary Nahurira, testified that during the training he had been able to link up with another agripreneur from Zambia.
I love using the Drone technology, especially in the field of agriculture. It is entertaining, fun and exciting to operate and work with.” Zikiru Shaibu
Modern technology is making it possible for the youth to find agriculture attractive and it provides opportunities for them to engage in the service industry involving small farmers. Research is needed to see how effectively digital media, drones and other 4th Revolution technology can be used to increase employment, food security and improve livelihoods in rural areas.
Years back, when people heard the word “drones”, the immediate thought they had is the military drone which is used in combat. Currently across the globe, there are more drone used by the general public than in the military. Diverse users of the technology apply it in the building and construction industry, art and media industry, agriculture industry, among many others
Fortunately, I am an advocate for the application of drone technology in agriculture. Drone technology basically supports the concept of precision farming by providing meaningful information to farmers to make informed decision on their farm management. The African Union (AU) and NEPAD highlighted the drone technology to be an information revolution that will result in a more precise and effective farm management system, especially useful to service the small-scale farmers predominantly in Africa.
The Drone is just a flying robot that is remotely controlled or can fly autonomously through a software controlled flight plan in conjunction with GPS. The use of the technology has drawn much attention and the interest of people across the globe. Every day, people want to hear more about the technology, its challenges and potentials.
Together with a team of University of Cape Coast (UCC) lecturers, we won a cost-shared initiative with Technical Centre for Agriculture and Rural Cooperation ACP-EU (CTA) and Parrot to be supplied with the drone equipment and training. In October 2018, I had the opportunity to be one of the trainees who benefited from the training on the use of ‘Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) for Service Delivery, Mission Planning, Piloting, & Image Acquisition’. The training was organized by the Department of Agricultural Economics and Extension, UCC with the support of CTA and Parrot Business Solution.
In agriculture, the major application of drone technology includes generation of prescription maps, farm structure inspection, high-resolution mapping and surveying of farm fields, crop scouting/monitoring for disease, pests and nutrient deficiency, crop volume and vigour assessments, crop inventory/population density, crop damage assessment, precision spraying, and insurance claim forensics. It can also be used for market forecasts and national food security early warning systems, as well as by co-operatives, transporters and contract farmers. It thus helps to overcome some of the expenses of information, compliance and forecasting that have in the past made it uneconomic to provide services to, or engage with, small farmers.
Being equipped from the training, I decided to research more in the use of the technology in agriculture because there is limited literature on field experiments or research done using the drone technology, particularly for small farmers. Fortunately, I got a scholarship support from the MasterCard Foundation through the support of RUFORUM and the University of Cape Coast, to experiment on the use of the drone technology and mobile phones to improve livelihood outcomes of smallholder farmers along the pineapple value chain in the Central Region of Ghana.
So far, the project has been successfully approved and initiated after a PhD proposal defense at the Department of Agricultural Economics and Extension, University of Cape Coast, Ghana. Still at the beginning stage of the project, I have carried out a generation of prescription map, farm structure inspection, and mapping and surveying of pineapple fields.
The implication of the first three activities is to help make informed decisions on the necessary and required inputs needed for the production stage of the pineapple. An earlier fly of the drone on farm fields helps a farmer to have an aerial view of their farms by knowing its size and shape, identify inconsistencies with respect to location and shape of the fields. This also informs the decision on the number of planting materials needed, number of mulching materials required, quantity of agro-chemicals required, and equipment types to be used on the field. Going further in this study which is becoming more interesting, I seek to undertake plant counting, plant health analysis, crop stress analysis, crop loss/damage analysis, and yield estimation.
In addition to the drone technology, using digital media such as mobile phones, radio and television enhances precision farming information delivery. Thus, by the end of the project, I will determine the contribution of the drone technology and mobile phones to the livelihood outcomes of smallholder farmers along the pineapple value chain in the Central Region of Ghana.
I thank all the supporting organisations: MasterCard Foundation, CTA, Parrot Business Solution, RUFORUM and the University of Cape Coast for equipping me to undertake this study. I am looking forward to contributing to existing knowledge on the drone technology and digital media, and to help improve livelihood outcomes of smallholder farmers in the Central Region of Ghana.
Mr. Zikiru Shaibu is a student currently specializing in Agricultural Extension
Education through a PhD Agricultural Extension programme at the University of Cape Coast, Ghana. Also a young enthusiastic entrepreneur with a research interest in the
Application of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) for Agricultural
Value chain agribusiness development. email@example.com
Many say that “life is a gamble”, but ever since we joined Gulu University to study for a Bachelor of science in Agri-entrepreneurship and Communications Management, our perspectives of life has since changed said Nakwasa Robinson at student and the General Manager of their Initiative Nana fruit salads.
The Entrepreneurship training program at the faculty of Agriculture and Environment has accorded us a chance to face the world on our own. Under the program, we underwent intensive business plan training, sketching, editing and scrutiny under the guidance and mentorship of university staff.
Nana fruit salads enterprise is an initiative by three students. The business started operating in July 2018. The experience of running a business enterprise has been enormous for us as students. Moving out of our comfort zones, we took a decision to participate in a business pitching competition organised by the Faculty of Agriculture and environment to promote entrepreneurship amongst Gulu University students.
In a group of three, we were presented with an opportunity to pitch our business ideas, the plans were vetted for economic, technical, social and financial feasibility before being funded by the Agribusiness incubation project at the university. Nana fruit Salads enterprise emerged winners, with a prize money of 200,000 Uganda Shillings (USD 54) awarded to us. Having tasted the fruits of engaging in business, Nana Fruits salad enterprises participated in a business plan competition organised by CEED Uganda. After undergoing interviews, a four day business training and a business pitching, we emerged as the first runners up, for which we were awarded a 2,000,000 Uganda Shillings ((USD 540)) by CEED-Uganda.
For instance, the deviation between the approved business plan and the actual business implementation/ground works was almost 70%. Consequently, we had to blend in with reality, adjust and flow dance to that rhythm. In the process of business implementation, Nana fruit salads enterprise mentored three community youths; two ladies and a gentleman who had taken interest in learning the tricks involved in the fruit salads business. The youth were trained in marketing skills, human resource management and quality control.
There has been no greater achievement that we have attained at the Gulu University than the student enterprise program. Although reality will hit us upon completing university training, hitting it back in the face with our skills, experiences, accrued networks is the best weapon to face the world.
For offering us this opportunity we are grateful to our mentors, particularly Dr. Odongo Walter and Mr. Daniel Okello; and the Faculty of agriculture and environment, Gulu University. We Also thank the mastercard foundation and the RUFORUM for proving funding targeting skilled youth but from disadvantaged backgrounds. We are because you have willed it into being, we pray that others after us may take even greater strides to exploring the different sides to life.
By Nakwasa Robinson a student beneficiary of MasterCard Foundation funding, studying at Gulu University, undertaking a Bachelor of science degree in agri-entrepreneurship and Communications Management and the General Manager of Nana Fruits Salads.
With nearly 80% of youth in northern Uganda unable to attain higher education, this large population of out-of-school youth requires competences to participate in gainful economic activities. Gulu University, in a joint initiative with Bobi Community Polytechnic, a community-based Technical and Vocational Education and Training institute (TVET) and ZOA, an international relief and recovery organization, has responded to the call for universities to play a greater role in influencing lower levels of the educational value chain.
In June 2019, as part of extending the university’s outreach mandate, Gulu University conducted a training for out-of-school youth on market oriented vegetable production. The training focused on technical and entrepreneurial skills enhancement, specifically on building competences in agronomic practices, post-harvest handling, resource mobilization, farm business planning, market linkages and networking.
The training used an engaged approach where the youth were hosted at the TVET for a two-week residential period. In addition to the training, the youth were placed in groups and supported to establish nurseries.
ZOA support to Bobi Polytechnique builds on existing support from the Regional Universities Forum for Capacity Building in Agriculture (RUFORUM) through a partnership with Gulu University supported by the Mastercard Foundation. Gulu University will continue to mentor the groups for at least one production cycle covering the period from August to December 2019. To this end, the university will conduct field visits to the respective groups for further guidance and technical support. Dr. Basil Mugonola of Gulu University and main coordinator of the training affirmed the university’s commitment saying, “Gulu University is committed to following up on the engagement with out-of-school youth. Our staff and students will visit you often to support your enterprises.”
Bobi Community Polytechnic’s Head Instructor, Mr. Ocaka, thanked Gulu University and ZOA for partnering with the institution, “We are glad we are able to engage more with the community through partnership with the university and ZOA”, he remarked.
The youth appreciated the training and were especially grateful that Gulu University and its partners had skilled them on a project they chose themselves as one of the group leaders remarked,
“We thank the University for accepting to give us skills on an enterprise we chose ourselves. We will utilise this to change our households.”
On their part, representatives from the partner organisations called on each stakeholder to play their role in making the project a success. The trainees were particularly urged to continue practicing what they had been taught and engaging with the learning institutions.
Gulu University Faculty of Agriculture and Environment and Bobi Community Polytechnic are grateful for the partnership with RUFORUM, the Mastercard Foundation and ZOA that made this engagement with out-of-school youth possible.
In early 2018, the first cohort of Gulu University students under the Mastercard Supported Scholarship at RUFORUM, through the Faculty of Agriculture and Environment (FAE) got engaged with the refugees in the west Nile districts of Arua and Adjumani in Uganda. This is part of the model used by the University to have students engage with communities as part of their requirement for their degree programme. Starting from the dynamics of group formation and problem identification, the engagement led to identification and set up of various enterprises with a view to support strong farm based micro enterprises for the refugees and their host communities. This was an effort to extend the University’s Community Transformation Agricultural Training Model to refugee settlement and host communities of Adjumani and Arua district in WestNile, Uganda. Consequently, the Faculty of Agriculture and Environment students delivered the training to twenty groups of champion farmers in six selected settlements in the two districts of intervention, and to realize the project sustainability, there was need to follow up and evaluate the status and performance of the groups in terms of production and sales of their enterprises.
Emerging dynamics and student engagement
The second stage of the Gulu University FAE student engagement with refugees, started with an evaluation of the status and performance of the champion farmer groups in terms of production and sales under previously established micro enterprises as well as expectation and needs of groups in terms of capacity building.
Students conducted focus group discussions, dialogues from the various groups and experience sharing on the business, additionally, the carried out Inspection of field and production site, training materials, and sales record to determine the group performance. The main enterprises of focus were current vegetable garden, composite flour production, bakery production, sales record, training material and equipment use.
Key findings in the evaluation indicated that 11 out of 20 formerly trained groups were still working together in their micro enterprises even after the initial engagement ended. The 11 groups were still continuing with the enterprise and performing well in terms of production and sales across the six refugee settlement of intervention both in Adjumani and Arua district. However, for the other 9 groups, movement of some members into other settlements and occasional movements back to their areas of origin (South Sudan and Democratic Republic of Congo) had disintegrated some, with individuals opting to carry on the enterprise activities on their own as households, such as vegetable production and small baking initiatives.
In general, most of the groups and households had an appreciable level of transformation towards better income status. Specifically, there were still high expectations of more support across many groups especially in mushroom seed, training on other cake products, onion, cabbage and tomato seeds, group dynamics, market linkages, more support for local goat and local chicken enterprises among others. It is these areas that the students are now set out to work with the faculty to conduct trainings and capacity building for the refugees and host communities.