Announcement: Winners of the Young African Entrepreneurs Competition 2016


The Regional Universities Forum for Capacity Building in Agriculture (RUFORUM) is pleased to announce the 15 winners of the 2016 Young African Entrepreneurs Competition. The competition attracted a total of 756 applicants from 38 African countries. The following are the stages and processes that were followed to identify the 15 winners.

  1. All 756 applications were screened for compliance to the set guidelines and application rules
  2. A total of 663 applications were compliant. Each of these applications were evaluated by three independent reviewers (Round one)
  3. A shortlist of 139 (20.9%) applicants were selected for Round two Each of these applications was once again evaluated by three independent evaluators.
  4. A shortlist of 20 (13.6%) applicants were evaluated by a panel of six reviewers to select the final list (Round 3).
  5. Owing to the competitiveness of the enterprises and innovations in Round 3, the panel made a decision to select 15 Young African Entrepreneurs instead of 10 that were originally planned for. The selected 15 winners are:
No. Enterprise Team Leader  Country
1. Bio Phyto Zodome Gildas Benin
2. InnoFaso SA Omar coulibaly Burkina Faso
3. Soja kwa Afia na Ubora wa Ucumi Kwetu (SAUK) Bikulo Bachiyeka Richard DRC
4. Ubiquitous Farm Management Selam Girma Ethiopia
5. Green Afro-Palms (GAP) Ababio Kwame Ghana
6. FarmDrive Limited Mary Joseph and Rita Kimani Kenya
7. Safi Organics Limited Samuel W. Rigu Kenya
8. J-Palm Liberia Mahmud Johnson Liberia
9. ColdHubs Limited Nnaemeka Ikegwuonu Nigeria
10. CASA MANGO Djiby Diagne Senegal
11. LANDFIRST (Pty) Ltd Phethile Nkosi South Africa
12. CIBIO Brian Makwaiba South Africa
13. WEKEBERE Tashobya Stephen Uganda
14. Empire Agricultural Services (EAS) John Bosco Birenge Uganda
15. HappyFarmer Moonga Chowe Zambia

The 15 winners have been invited to make presentations during the Fifth Africa Higher Education Week and RUFORUM Biennial Conference, 17-21 October, 2016 in Cape Town, South Africa (see www.ruforumbiennial.org).

RUFORUM thanks all the Young African Entrepreneurs and Innovators that participated in this competition. RUFORUM also extends appreciation to all the reviewers that have been instrumental in executing a total of 2,463 reviews in the last two months. Click here to download the press release.

World-renowned virologist named 2016 GCHERA World Agriculture Prize Laureate.


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The development of six vaccines, developing a world-class research facility and training more than one hundred graduate students and post-doctoral fellows earns Dr. Lorne Babiuk this prestigious international award.

Lorne_Babiuk_cropped_80pxl - 2Dr. Lorne Babiuk, a world-renowned virologist, highly acclaimed for his international leadership in vaccine development and research in veterinary infectious disease control, particularly zoonotic diseases, named the 2016 GCHERA World Agriculture Prize Laureate, which recognizes “exceptional and significant” lifetime achievements of a faculty member from a university working in the disciplines relating to the agricultural and life sciences.

“Dr. Lorne Babiuk is a most deserving recipient,” said John Kennelly, President of the Global Confederation of Higher Education Associations for Agriculture and Life Sciences (GCHERA).  Each year GCHERA bestows this prestigious award which is sponsored by the Education Development Foundation of Nanjing Agricultural University.

“Dr. Babiuk has been responsible for major advances in our understanding of the biology of infectious diseases and the role of vaccines in their control, he has been a mentor and an inspiration to other scientists, and his vision and leadership resulted in the development of a world-class research and teaching facility at the University of Saskatchewan in Canada whose scientists continue to develop vaccines that make important contributions to animal health on a global basis.”

Babiuk currently serves as the vice-president of research at the University of Alberta in Canada.

Babuik  devoted his career to safeguarding the health of animals and people worldwide, primarily through the development of vaccines. He consistently fulfilled the promise he showed very early on in his career as a virologist when he worked on rotavirus, which causes animals to suffer acute diarrhoea. The issue was a major problem for the livestock industry, costing it approximately $300 million annually. Babiuk devised a new technique to grow the virus and then developed a vaccine to control the disease in calves.

It was the first of six vaccines in which Babiuk played a major role in developing over the years.

Like many other accomplished scientists around the world, Babiuk often questioned assumptions and always looked for different and better ways to find solutions to complex infectious disease issues. For example, in the early 80s, at a time when few people thought biotechnology would have any application in the animal health industry, he and his team of researchers developed the world’s first genetically engineered vaccine for shipping fever, a disease that was causing the North American cattle industry $1 billion a year.

A few years later, Babiuk again broke scientific ground when he espoused that understanding the fundamentals of vaccine formulation and delivery rather than antigen production was the key to increasing the efficacy of vaccines. Since then, this theory has become accepted knowledge throughout the scientific community.

Whilst Babiuk is a most fruitful researcher, who has published more than 500 peer-reviewed papers and has more than 22,000 citations, he has always been committed to ensuring that his research results are exploited in practice and where appropriate commercially adopted.

That was evident while he helped build the Vaccine and Infectious Disease Organization (VIDO) at the University of Saskatchewan from 1975 onwards and led it from 1993 to 2007, building it into an international research powerhouse that, to date, has produced eight vaccines.

Babiuk’s commitment to mentoring the next generation of researchers is equally impressive as he not only supervised more than 50 PhD students and more than 50 Post-doctoral fellows, he also created a unique-in-North America graduate program in vaccinology with ethical and social concerns arising from the production and use of vaccines in various populations.

Read more of Dr Lorne Babuik’s career and achievements.

The GCHERA World Agriculture Prize award ceremony will take place on 18 October at the RUFORUM Conference. Source: http://www.gchera.com/2016-laureate-announced/

African Doctoral Academy Summer School Next intake 9-20 January 2017


Summer School 2017 – programme and fees

The Summer School is drawing near and we’ve had a few requests around our programme for 2017.

While we are putting the finishing touches on our programme, I would like to share some of the highlights of the coming Summer School with you. The 8th annual Summer School will take places from 9 – 20 January over two weeks. As always, the focus is firmly on offering high quality research interventions and methodology training for PhD candidates, their supervisors and researchers.

Please read on for a sneak peek into the initial programme and fees structure, so you’re ready to book. We’ll be adding a number of courses during the next few days before publishing the full programme and opening the registration.

Core Programme

In addition to some new and innovative courses, rest assured that we’re again presenting the ‘core’ courses that are typically in demand with our participants.

Preparing for the PhD: This introductory course addresses a number of the difficulties new PhD candidates are often faced with. We work through the PhD process, taking you from the proposal and background to your study through to dealing with your examiner feedback and everything in between. Included is a Postgraduate Toolkit that will help to guide you as your move through your research and dissertation writing.

If you’re attending Preparing for the PhD, the following two courses would also help you in designing your studyInterviewing and Qualitative Data Analysis remains one of our most popular courses, presented by ‘resident’ expert, Prof Max Bergman. Prof Bergman, the chair of Social Research and Methodology at Basel University, Switzerland is also widely published in the field and the current chair for the World Sustainability Forum 2017 conference to be held in Cape Town in January 2017. We will also host Prof Tim Guetterman, an applied research methodologist, from the University of Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA offering a complimentary course in Designing a Mixed Methods Research Study.

Data Analysis: This year sees the release of a new version of ATLAS.ti. Version 8 will not just be a regular upgrade. It is re-programmed from scratch and has a whole new look and feel, and we have been fortunate to again have Dr Susanne Friese present the course for the us. She was also very involved in the remodelling of the programme and this would be a golden opportunity for existing trainers to receive training on the new programme. Due to the new version being phased in, there will be no advanced course taking place at the coming Summer School. We will again host an introduction to SPSS (Dr Cindy Lee Steenekamp), and a more advanced SPSS course by Dr Nelius Boshoff.

Furthering your writing/publishing and supervision skills: for those candidates that are at a stage where they are generating articles from their dissertations, we are offering Writing and Publishing from the PhD with Dr Ruth Albertyn. You will be offered the opportunity to work with a writing coach that will not only give you valuable tips and tools for writing a successful article, but also help you refine your draft. Prof Jan Botha will be facilitating our competence course on Doctoral Supervision. Read more

Improving productivity of indigenous chicken in Northern Uganda


By Christine Nakkazi

Over 80% of rural households in Northern Uganda keep chicken, mostly local breeds kept under the free-range production system. However, these indigenous chicken exhibit low turnover and low growth rate due to poor management and inadequate feeding which challenges their ability to play their role as sources of food security and income.

The Enhancing Local Chicken Productivity through Strategic Breeding and Nutrition Management in Northern Uganda (ELOCHIP) Project, funded by the Regional Universities Forum for Capacity Building in Agriculture (RUFORUM) under the Competitive Grants System, sought to enhance the productivity of indigenous chicken in this region through improved nutrition and breeding.

As a graduate student and member of the research team, I was engaged in the nutrition and chicken management component of the project. My research aimed at improving the performance of indigenous chickens through improved feeding and management. Since the majority of farmers left their chicken to scavenge freely, the birds did not meet their nutritional requirements for optimal growth and production because scavengeable feed resources were scarce, highly variable and of questionable nutritional value. Therefore it was prudent to identify local feed resources in the area, determine their chemical composition, formulate diets, and encourage farmers to adopt better management systems of rearing indigenous chicken such as semi-scavenging and intensive systems.

Formulating nutritious diets

Together with 120 farmers, the project team identified the local feed resources available for feeding chicken as well as the management practices in Northern Uganda and used this information to design feeding strategies. The research revealed that feeds were not compounded into simple diets. Farmers were indiscriminately providing energy-rich grains such as maize, sorghum, millet to all chicken groups. After determining the chemical composition of the local feedstuffs, the team formulated diets with varying levels of protein and energy and tested them on-farm to select the diet that resulted in best growth performance of the indigenous chicken. Farmers were engaged at all stages of the research and were trained on aspects of improved flock management such as brooding, disease control, record keeping, and synchronized hatching.

Because of the increasing market demand for indigenous chicken, some farmers sought to commercialize their production. These farmers made use of the diets recommended by the study under the intensive management system. They were further trained on how to synchronize hatching and brood using locally made pots as a source of heat to allow the mother hens an early return into lay. With these improvements, the chicken reached market weight in 4.5-5 months compared to the 6 month minimum required in the traditional management system.

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