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Participants in a plenary session

As part of mobilizing resources to scale out best practice research for development through partnership between research and non-research actors (nongovernmental organizations, private companies and farmer organisations), the Regional Universities Forum for Capacity Building in Agriculture (RUFORUM), organized a write-shop to develop proposals to respond to the 2018 Cultivate Africa’s Future – Phase 2 (CultiAF-2). The Write-shop supported by PAEPARD under the capacity building Work Package and the private sector and university engagement of the mastercard foundation Project “Transforming African Universities to meaningfully contribute to Africa’s Development (TAGDev) took place from 12 -16th February 2018 at Entebbe Imperial Botanical Beach Hotel. It gathered 33 participants from Burundi, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Uganda, and Zimbabwe. Participants consisted of representatives from RUFORUM member universities, NARIs, Farmers’ organizations, Private Sector organizations, and staff members from RUFORUM Secretariat and FARA.

The CultiAF-2 focuses on issues under 4 key research areas aligned to the regional priorities of the 2014 Malabo declaration on accelerated agricultural growth and transformation for shared prosperity and improved livelihoods for which the fund will focus.

  • Improved productivity and incomes for farmers and communities and decreased post-harvest losses.
  • Improved gender equity.
  • Nutrition and human health; and
  • Climate change and sustainable water management.
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Participants at the Write-shop

CultiAF-2 is expected to address real practical development challenges and research needs in 10 developing eligible African countries mainly in Eastern and Southern Africa – namely Burundi, Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. Specifically, the project will support cutting edge applied field and/or laboratory research projects with the potential to generate high impact and innovative results with particular impact on the food insecure with special interest in supporting innovative research with the potential for breakthrough results that can be effectively scaled-up and easily adopted by smallholder farmers, food processors, post-harvest handlers, and other value chain actors to improve food and nutrition security and achieve gender equality.

At the end of the write-shop which was organized into plenary sessions, topical presentations, peer reviews, and group work 16 concept notes were developed by participants.


By Gregory Ndwandwa Sikumba, RUFORUM alumnus
Email: gregorysikumba@gmail.com

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Gregory Ndwandwa Sikumba

I first developed an interest in research for development while studying for a bachelor’s degree in animal science at the University of Namibia. After graduation, I joined the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock Development in Zambia in 2008 as a Tsetse Control Biologist in Copperbelt Province. As a biologist, I realized that I needed to be skilled in research and survey design; data management and analysis; and statistical modelling in order to become a fully-fledged researcher. This strengthened my desire to enroll for postgraduate studies in Research Methods.

In 2010, after numerous unsuccessful attempts at applying for scholarships, I was awarded a RUFORUM scholarship to study a master’s degree in research methods at Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT) in Nairobi, Kenya.

I assumed I would easily transition to the course, but I was wrong. MSc Research Methods was taught in a modular system making it a very rigorous, though highly stimulating course. We were assessed every two weeks and exams involved critical thinking. Our cohort was diverse, with 32 students from nine different countries, but we were able to cope with the challenge of this diversity because many of our assessments required us to work in groups. I credit the training programme for giving us a unique opportunity to learn from one another and nurturing my soft skills in team work and conflict resolution.

Upon completion of my course work in 2012, I was awarded a graduate fellowship by the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), where I was attached to the East Africa Dairy Development (EADD) Project for my thesis research. The EADD is a regional dairy industry development programme whose goal is to help families living on small 1-5 acre farms lift themselves out of poverty through more profitable production and marketing of milk. My thesis research therefore was on “Socio-economic analysis of dairy feed technologies promoted in the Kenyan highlands”.

Reaping the benefits of the MSc Research Methods

The skills I acquired during my master’s training helped me to excel in my work as a graduate fellow and later as a consultant on dairy productivity, which I embarked on after graduation. As a fellow, I handled with ease large-scale data assessment to measure productivity, impact, and identify gaps in the dairy value chain for 3 countries (Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda). It was this experience that opened my eyes and made me appreciate the quality of analytical skills the MSc Research Methods course offers.

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Training extension staff in collecting GPS coordinates using mobile devices

Complementary to my experience working in the field, the master’s degree provided me with rigorous training on identifying gaps in the agricultural value chain and developing research proposals using an integrated approach. Moreover, the curriculum was in line with my interest in sustainable intensification of agricultural technologies for small holder farmers and has greatly facilitated my career in research for development.

Working with the team of highly skilled multidisciplinary scientists at ILRI and its partner organisations, as well as JKUAT faculty staff gave me exposure and contributed to my growth as a scholar. I have gained invaluable experience in monitoring, learning and evaluation, report and scientific writing and research proposal development. I am now competent in designing surveys with modern data collection methods (using tablets and mobile phones), participatory research methods, econometric analysis, and developing models.

Finally, and most importantly, after completion of my master’s degree, I got an ILRI/DAAD Scholarship in 2014, under the AFRICA RISING Project, to pursue a PhD in animal nutrition at the University of Nairobi, which I hope to complete soon.

Final reflections

The MSc Research Methods offers excellent preparation for a career either in academia or in research for development. However, being new, the course needs to be marketed in order for stakeholders to appreciate it and to make its graduates marketable to employers.

For me, the course has been a launch pad to greater things and I count myself lucky to have pursued it. Through it I have grown socially, academically and made friends across Africa. I now look to the future with lots of optimism as I already see the numerous opportunities that will open up for me upon graduation from my PhD studies; all thanks to the seed that was sown by this RUFORUM Regional Programme.

The Master of Science Degree in Research Methods hosted by Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT) is one of the six collaborative regional master’s degree programmes established by RUFORUM. Launched in 2009, the programme was established in response to the large unmet demand in the labour market for professionals skilled in agricultural research methods. To date, the programme has graduated more than 100 graduates from 15 African countries

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CGIARAddis Ababa, Ethiopia (19 February, 2018) – Over 130 participants from 25 countries met to confirm partners and priorities at the launch meeting of the CGIAR Research Program on Grain Legumes and Dryland Cereals (GLDC). Dr Peter Carberry, Director of GLDC, set the framework from the start, underlining that the Program’s approach is how it can add value to what is already being undertaken. Linking initiatives and building on each other’s strengths will be a key focus of the approach.

Ethiopia’s Minister of Agriculture and Natural Resources, H.E. Dr. Eyasu Abraha Alle, who inaugurated GLDC, supported the value chain approach noting that, “grain legumes and the sorghum and millets are what have been termed as ‘Smart Food’ because they are: Good for you, Good for the planet, and Good for the farmer. However, they have received less attention and their value chains have not been as well developed. We need to do something different! Through partnerships like GLDC, we will build this whole industry from the consumer end and also develop the food processing industry and connect this right back to the farmers.” He also challenged the team, “We have to work furiously for the drylands. Tackling the drylands means being climate smart. Grain legumes and dryland cereals are well adapted to the drylands and naturally nutritious. I challenge the CRP to come up with a strategy for the drylands of Ethiopia. These are Smart Foods and we need to diversify our diets with them.”

Jointly launching the Program was Dr Nigel Kerby, Board Chair of the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics, who congratulated the whole team behind GLDC: “As Chair of the ICRISAT Board and on behalf of ICRISAT which has pulled together the partners and prospectus for this Program, I take great pleasure in joining the 44 partner institutions and the Minister of Agriculture and Natural Resources for the launch of GLDC. I am very impressed by the commitment shown by the over 130 delegates at the launch, from many different disciplines and their belief in GLDC. I wish great success to the team over the next five years and beyond.”

GLDC’s vision is to deliver improved rural livelihoods and nutrition by prioritizing demand-driven innovations to increase production and market opportunities along value chains. The program supports research for development purposes on six legumes (chickpea, cowpea, pigeonpea, groundnut, lentil and soybean) and three cereals (sorghum, pearl millet and finger millet). It will focus on the semi-arid and sub-humid dryland agroecologies of sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. The Program is a partnership of CGIAR centers, public and private organizations, governments and farmers worldwide.

Find a complete Press Release here Partnering to effectively strengthen whole value chains-GLDC Press Release

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