Grand vision for an African-owned drive on food security

Written By Jon Spaull- SciDevNet

Image credit: Sven Torfinn/Panos

Image credit: Sven Torfinn/Panos

[MAPUTO, MOZAMBIQUE] “Your granary will never be filled by your neighbour.” This is a Mozambican saying that was used by Graca Michel, member of International Panel of Elders and a former Mozambican minister of education, to illustrate the point that Africa cannot rely on outside help to achieve food security.

It was a recurring theme at the Regional Universities Forum for Capacity Building in Africa (RUFORUM) conference here in Maputo at which I heard her speak: Africa must take ownership of the responses to the challenges it faces in the twenty-first century.

It was a theme also elaborated on by Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, chair of the African Union Commission.  While appreciating the assistance of foreign donors she said it “cannot be the mainstay of our development — no country has ever developed on donor money”.  As the UN post-2015 development goals were in the process of being finalised, Africa needed its own vision and goals, she said.

“We must tell them what we need to do post-2015. We must know what we want and do it irrespective of what other people say,” she told the audience. Read More

The party’s over – and what a party!

Written by: Richard A. Powell – RUFORUM Communications Consultant

Prof. Adipala Ekwamu, Executive Secretary- RUFORUM

Prof. Adipala Ekwamu, Executive Secretary- RUFORUM

Following a week of intensive networking opportunities that attracted nearly 670 participants from 45 countries, and celebrating the achievements of postgraduate agricultural students across Africa, the fourth highly successful RUFORUM biennial conference ended last week in Maputo, Mozambique.

Conferences have a reputation among many who plough their circuit for being exercises in talking, with minimal practical positive outcomes to show after the deliberations have been concluded. But this meeting could have been a game-changer for RUFORUM specifically and agriculture generally on the continent.

“After 10 successful years influencing higher agricultural education in specific regions of Africa,” announced Professor Adipala Ekwamu, the Executive Secretary of RUFORUM at the launch of the official conference communiqué, “we now have a wonderful opportunity to not only influence its future direction strategically but also across the continent as a whole.”

The conference welcomed multiple honoured guests and speakers, including H.E. Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, Chairperson of the African Union (AU) Commission, Mrs Graca Machel, Member of the International Panel of Elders and Former Minister of Education, Mozambique, two AU Commissioners, ten Ministers, 34 Vice Chancellors, and university Principals and Deans.

Continue reading “The party’s over – and what a party!”

Africa – defining its own path moving forward

Written by: Richard A. Powell – RUFORUM Communications Consultant

2Expressing his gratitude at the conferment of an honorary doctoral degree from Addis Ababa University, Ethiopia, for his dedication to medical and scientific philanthropic activities in economically developing countries, the Microsoft founder Bill Gates spoke of his commitment to the African continent, its responsibility in developing itself and the pivotal role played by agriculture.

“The real fuel for development will be the resources of African nations themselves – whether that’s in the form of government funding, private-sector investment, or just plain human creativity at all levels of society. This is where the idea of ‘African countries learning from each other’ becomes so important. If you want to spend your national budgets as effectively as possible, there is now a clear path for doing exactly that – and Africans themselves are defining that path, for others to follow if they choose.”

Talking of his first visit to the continent with his wife. Melinda, two decades ago, he remarked that in addition to being in awe of the land’s natural beauty, “we were no less awed by the poverty we witnessed. Children were dying from illnesses we’d never even heard of. This struck us as deeply wrong – and totally unnecessary.”

It was an experience that impelled the couple to initiate the not-for-profit Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which has been active supporting critical and diverse projects in Africa ever since, with a growing personal optimism held by Mr Gates that “this continent is now in an incredible position to shape its own destiny for the better.”

Supporting this increasing optimism with strategic financial investment has also been evident in the field of sustainable agriculture and agricultural higher education. Last year, with their backing of “programmes developed by Africans, for Africans”, the Foundation provided a five-year grant to RUFORUM, with Mr Gates observing “If you want your country to rise from low-income to middle-income status, emphasize two things: health and agricultural development. If you get health and agricultural development right, the gains are exceptional, and they reverberate through the rest of your economy for decades to come.”

Continue reading “Africa – defining its own path moving forward”

Redundant bricks, wrecking balls, and architects of the virtual

Written by: Richard A. Powell – RUFORUM Communications Consultant

1For many years, pedagogues have been fixated on the bricks-and-mortar approach to knowledge transfer and learning: the goal primarily being to increase ad nausea the number of students living on a physical campus.

But advances in technology mean that the model of teaching has been re-evaluated. E-learning – the ‘e’, according to Bernard Luskin, a pioneer of the field, being interpreted as “exciting, energetic, enthusiastic, emotional, extended, excellent, and educational”, rather than simply “electronic” – is the use of electronic media, educational technology and information and communication technologies (ICT) in the process of education. It entails the numerous types of media that help deliver text, audio, images, animation, and streaming video, and includes technology applications and processes such as audio or video tape, satellite TV, CD-ROM, and computer-based learning, among others, and can be asynchronous self-education, synchronous and instructor-led (i.e., in real time), or a blended hybrid of the two.

The possibilities offered by e-learning are considerable. For those students with pressing personal or family problems or obligations, or whose lives do not lend themselves to attending a traditional university, the flexibility offered by a self-paced, asynchronous course can prove highly attractive. Indeed, the popularity of e-learning among such students is clear. In the USA in 2006, approximately 3.5 million students participated in on-line learning at higher education institutions. Massive open online courses (MOOCs) continue to prove popular, offering classes to global audiences.

However, as Nodumo Dhlamini and Lisbeth Levey observed in their side event at the 4th RUFORUM biennial conference – entitled “A new architecture for learning: looking into the future of ICT for teaching and learning” – for many years in Africa such pedagogic ambitions for the continent were entirely fanciful in nature. In 1996, Ms Levey recalled, there were only three African countries with more than 64 Kbhs of bandwidth, with dial-up modems emitting idiosyncratic noises into the night. However, four years later the internet had begun to take root on the continent and currently there is a recognition of the critical role ICT can play in teaching in many African higher education establishments. But as Ms Levey noted, agricultural colleges often lag behind the rest of their university counterparts.

Continue reading “Redundant bricks, wrecking balls, and architects of the virtual”

Termina a quarta conferência da RUFORUM

By Vanilla Amadeu


Na conferência participaram estudantes, docentes e outros, das cerca de 42 Universidades de 19 países africanos membros da RUFORUM, sendo algumas das quais a Universidade Eduardo Mondlane, Universidade Kenyatta, Universidade de Makerere, Universidade de Eldoret.A mesma tinha como lema: “celebrando a contribuição das universidades e parceiros para o desenvolvimento agrícola da África”. O objectivo era de os participantes reflectissem sobre o papel da agricultura para o Continente africano onde mostra-se necessário o investimento por parte dos governos na área, de modo a que possa contribuir significativamente para o crescimento económico.


Prof Alidipala o chefe de RUFORUM com alguns participantes.

Portanto, estiveram governantes de alguns países participantes, e não só, com o destaque para Reitor da Universidade Eduardo Mondlane, Orlando Quilambo, o Secretário Executivo da RUFORUM, Adipala Ekwamu, A Presidente da Comissão da União Africana, Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, docentes e estudantes das Universidades membros da RUFORUM. Continue reading “Termina a quarta conferência da RUFORUM”

Strengthening the research agenda for agriculture

By Pauline Atim
I had the opportunity to attend the Center for Coordination of Agricultural Research and Development for Southern Africa (CCARDESA) meeting at the #RUFORUM@10 when it called a number of stakeholders including university deans, vice-chancellors, policy makers, lecturers and students to discuss strategies to strengthen the research-training-farmer continuum and the youth agenda in the SADC region. The event was overall interesting and intellectually stimulating as I heard different standpoints and suggestions concerning agricultural research for development (AR4D).

Continue reading “Strengthening the research agenda for agriculture”

Building scientific capacity for African agriculture: Start with basic science


Dr Yemi Akinbamijo FARA’s Executive Director

By Jackline Nnam

If the world were to be re-sized according to science output, Africa, the world’s second largest continent in area and population, would disappear. This is worrying for Africa’s development, considering that science and technology is essential for economic and social transformation of any society. Science provides the basic ingredient, the “DNA helix”, for many disciplines including agriculture.

With agriculture as the key driver of most economies, Africa is focusing on transforming its agricultural sector to leap frog in development. To achieve this a lot of emphasis has been placed on development and adoption of technologies to enhance productivity. Without a critical mass of scientists on the continent, this may remain a dream.

Africa’s low science output is partly due to its low number of scientists. With the declining popularity of sciences versus arts courses in schools the situation could worsen. Moreover, agriculture as a discipline is more at risk as students do not find it attractive enough and opt to join other disciplines. Cases abound of students who study agriculture as a last resort because they could not get admission to more prestigious courses like engineering and human medicine. This leaves a very huge capacity gap in the agriculture sciences. Continue reading “Building scientific capacity for African agriculture: Start with basic science”

La réunion des étudiants diplômés de RUFORUM à l’Université Eduardo Mondlane


Hon. Dr. Zerubbabel Mr. Nyiira 

By Zenon Niyomwungere

Au cours de cette réunion, l’un des étudiants qui ont été formés par RUFORUM appelé Chimwemwe Chamdimba qui travaille maintenant à l’agence de coordination du NEPAD a déclaré que RUFORUM formé dirigeants. Ella a ajouté que RUFORUM continue à s’entraîner comme après leur formation. Elle nous a donné des conseils, vous avez besoin de nous pour être des leaders dans notre société, nous acceptons la responsabilité de faire la différance dans ce que nous faisons dans la vie de tous les jours pour faire un changement.

Nous avons également eu l’occasion d’entendre l’honorable docteur Zerubabel M.Nyira, ministre d’État au ministère de l’Agriculture de la République de l’Ouganda, qui nous a raconté comment il a joué dans sa carrière scientifique. Avec son expérience, il nous a donné des conseils qui peuvent nous aider à réussir dans la vie, je voudrais citer quelques-uns dans lequel il a énuméré. Continue reading “La réunion des étudiants diplômés de RUFORUM à l’Université Eduardo Mondlane”

É urgente a resolução de segurança alimentar de forma sustentável





By Rogerio Junior

“De acordo com a FAO, quase um terço da comida produzida para consumo humano equivalente a 1.3 milhões de toneladas por ano são desperdiçadas no mundo.”

Este e outros dados foram tornados públicos aquando do decorrer da sessão paralela da conferencia do RUFORUM que terminou hoje em Maputo.Ambuko, J. Abriu a sessão e partilhou ideias de caminhos que devemos percorrer para alcançarmos uma África prospera em termos de segurança alimentar sustentável. Segundo ela, os antecedentes deste problema assenta no mau uso que as pessoas tem feito do alimento.

Continue reading “É urgente a resolução de segurança alimentar de forma sustentável”

Agricultura e Pecuária beneficiam de Inovações

DSC_0008 (2)By Cacilda Sitoe

O ensino superior e os sectores agro-pecuários necessitam de inovações que possam permitir o crescimento nestas duas áreas. Com esse propósito decorreu no âmbito da quarta conferência do RUFORUM, um encontro entre representantes de várias organizações e Universidades como foi o caso de LISA (Laboratory for Interdisciplinary Statistical Analysis); iAGRI (Innovative Agricultural Research Initiative); Universidade de Makerere; Universidade de Namíbia. Continue reading “Agricultura e Pecuária beneficiam de Inovações”

A new face/approach to Agricultural Training and Education


Photo credits: Richter Kurt

By Victoria Mbiggide

The time to move away from the ordinary and the “it was, it is and forever shall be” is now. There is no better timing than now for re-evaluation among African agricultural education training structures. No one understands you better than you do….so the saying goes. How about identifying our own challenges, see how best to meet them, possible partners to bring on board and the necessary resources we need to tackle and address these challenges.


This will aid the planning process and bring focus while answering the “What” to be addressed “When” questions if tangible deliverable are to be realized. With such processes, we then expect practical development issues to appear on top when it comes to ranking and setting priority areas.

Continue reading “A new face/approach to Agricultural Training and Education”

Thoughts from the RUFORUM Alumni meeting


By Pauline Atim

It is good to know that RUFORUM still thinks about us and cares about what we are doing” Mrs. Chimwemwe Chamdimba, RUFORUM Alumni now working with NEPAD.
It is great that RUFORUM organized a side session where it interacted with the Alumni students who have been in the field to listen to them in order to know the changes needed in the approach to the career path. The meeting which was hosted by Eduardo Mondlane University took the form of motivation talks by renowned personalities and Alumni who shared their personal stories and what to expect in the field as a way to build confidence among graduate students and inspire.

Continue reading “Thoughts from the RUFORUM Alumni meeting”

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