From a Graduate Student to a Community Agent – The Story of Catherine Mloza-Banda

From a Graduate Student to a Community Agent: From Science to Communication

The Story of Catherine Mloza-Banda

Above: Belgium, Brussels. European Development Days (EDD) Future leaders Catherine Mloza-Banda © European Union

Studying for a Master of Science degree under the RUFORUM Scholarship has greatly shaped my career and opened a world that I could not comprehend. Being able to generate scientific information is one thing; communicating it in a way that is understandable and relatable to a wide range of audiences is another.
My Master’s degree has helped me to be able to do both and more. I learned to engage policy makers and influential decision makers on the critical issues that are taking place at grassroots level that have an implication on policy. It highlighted the important role that farmer networks play in dissemination and adoption of new technologies and the role of informal communication channels.
I was awarded the RUFORUM Scholarship at a time that I was seeking to establish my career as an agricultural communications specialist. I had recently graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Crop Science from the then University of Malawi, Bunda College of Agriculture.  The most logical step for me was to pursue a career in the agricultural sciences either in a research station or academia. Interestingly, that was not what I wanted to do. Over the time I had studied for my degree, I had grown a passion for development communication and I wanted to innovatively fuse my newly found interest with my science degree; an aspiration that seemed very far-fetched at the time.

Click here to read the full story on the Graduate to a Community Agent_Mloza.

Five top highlights: The RUFORUM 11th Annual General Meeting happening in Windhoek, Namibia

University of Namibia

The Regional Universities Forum for Capacity Building in Agriculture (RUFORUM) recently announced the 11th RUFORUM Annual General Meeting that will be hosted by the Government of Namibia together with the University of Namibia, a member of the RUFORUM Network.

The Programme will feature several side-events linked to efforts to contribute to RUFORUM’s overall mission and Theory of Change that aspires to build “a vibrant agricultural sector linked to African universities”. Key highlights of the side-events include: Meetings of RUFORUM organs, including the 11th Meeting of the Principals and Deans Committee; 8th Meeting of the RUFORUM Technical Committee; Meeting of the International Advisory Panel and 15th Meeting of the RUFORUM Board of Trustees.

We are pleased to share with you a few highlights of this meeting;

  1. Launch of RUFORUM 2015-2020 Strategic Business Plan: This year marks the end of the RUFORUM Strategic Plan, 2006-2015. After 10 years of existence and contribution to the Higher Education and Agricultural Sectors in Africa, RUFORUM will renew its momentum as a platform for mobilizing participation of African Universities in Africa’s development agenda, and for training the next generation of agricultural scientists for Africa in Africa.
  2. Impact Research and Science Awards (IMPRESSA): The RUFORUM IMPRESSA Awards recognize outstanding university scientists making significant contribution to Agricultural Research and Science for development in Africa. RUFORUM will recognize three outstanding university achievers. Read more
  3. Recognizing Outstanding and progressive farmers: RUFORUM and the University of Namibia will recognize two innovative farmers from Namibia who are making a difference nationally.
  4. Young Social Media Reporters: As part of our capacity building initiative, RUFORUM will train and recognize the role of Young Social Media Reporters (YSMR) in increasing the network’s visibility in the area of Higher Education and the RUFORUM mandate – “Training the Next Generation of Scientists for Africa”.
  5. Launch of Book-Dynamics of Rural Innovation: The Royal Tropical Institute (KIT) works with public and private sector partners internationally to find sustainable solutions to the development challenges they face related to inclusive value chains, sustainable agribusiness development, rural innovation, land tenure, food and nutrition security, and gender and rights.

Click here to download the full AGM Program.

RUFORUM Alumni: Entrepreneurial Agricultural Graduate Linking to Smallholder farmers

Above: Titus with a group of farmers during one of his field trips in Uganda

Above: Titus with a group of farmers during one of his field trips in Uganda

In January 2015, Titus Kisauzi graduated with a Master’s degree in Agricultural Extension Education (MSc. AEE) from Makerere University. His MSc training was funded through a RUFORUM Graduate Research Grant under the Project “Understanding the Gender dimensions of the impact of climate change on agriculture and adaptation among small holder farmers in Uganda.” Towards completion of the training program, he had been contracted as a National Agricultural Advisory Service (NAADS) Coordinator for Busukuma Sub-County in Uganda.

However, the contract was short-lived due to the government extension reforms in 2014 that led to the creation of the single-spine structure of extension services, hence the removal of all NAADS coordinators. This setback however presented an opportunity for exploring Entrepreneurial Agricultural Extension and Advisory Services to complement public extension.

In March 2014, Titus set up and registered AgroBasics (U) Ltd as a result of the need for innovative ways to solving the multifaceted challenges of farming communities that often limit the viability and commercialization of small-scale agriculture. Entrepreneurial extension services have become important due to low funding for extension, high unemployment of graduates and the inherent challenges of public service delivery related to poor accountability and slow response. In addition, the increasing commercialization of agriculture demands more services yet public extension has limited reach, and scope with regard to services such as input supply, market support and processing.

RUFORUM Alumni Impact_23 07 2015_2.