The MasterCard Foundation and RUFORUM Invest in Innovative Agricultural Training in Africa

MC+RUFORUMThe MasterCard Foundation and the Regional Universities Forum for Capacity Building in Agriculture (RUFORUM) will collaborate to test new models of agricultural education in Africa.  The eight year commitment of US$ 27.1 Million from MasterCard will focus on smallholder farmers, connecting university education to the needs of rural communities to meaningfully contribute to Africa’s growth and development. Gulu University (Uganda) and Egerton University (Kenya), both early adopters of the RUFORUM approach, will be the key implementers of the program.

This eight year project will support the training of 220 (110 undergraduate and 110 post graduate) economically disadvantaged students from across Africa.  Students will benefit from leadership training to ensure that they become Africa’s next generation of agricultural leaders.  The Program will further provide opportunities for transformative action research using the expanded RUFORUM Community Action Research Program (CARP+) to enhance university-led community impact. The CARP+ will include supplemental focus on Technical Vocational Education and Training (TVET) institutions to enhance gains through greater collaboration and joint action between universities and TVET institutions. The Program will be scaled out through a series of competitive challenge programs and policy to other universities in Africa.

This funding supports RUFORUM’s broader objective to train the next generation of agricultural scientists within Africa. It also strengthens RUFORUM’s vision of achieving ‘a vibrant agricultural sector linked to African universities that can produce high-performing graduates and high-quality research, responsive to the demands of Africa’s farmers for innovations, and able to generate sustainable livelihoods and national economic development’. The partnership between RUFORUM and MasterCard Foundation will help fast track the achievement of this vision.

Click here to download full press release.

International Conference on Enhancing Sustainable Agricultural Production and Marketing Systems through Science, Technology and Innovation

Dates: November 29-December 02, 2016.


Agriculture remains a key pillar in economies of many Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) countries. Despite many efforts to improve agricultural productivity and food security systems, several SSA countries continue to grapple with the twin challenges of poverty and food/nutrition insecurity. Majority of rural population live below the poverty line and face declining crop and livestock productivity.

Although great milestones have been witnessed in the world since the first green revolution, most small holder farmers especially in SSA are still trapped in subsistence farming with limited commercialization and slow rates of technology diffusion. Their agricultural production systems are still characterized by poor and declining/stagnated yields, high susceptibility to pests and diseases. Read more

African universities need bankable ideas

Copyright: Betty Press / Panos

Copyright: Betty Press / Panos

African universities face huge, intersecting challenges. As a result, they are struggling to adapt.

Firstly, enrolments are rising without universities increasing their capacities to deliver quality education aligned to the continent’s needs.

Secondly, raising revenue through fees clearly isn’t the answer to funding shortfalls: the policy of co-financing education through tuition fees has failed to yield enough money over the years. Instead, private universities have mushroomed, mostly offering arts-based courses, which are cheaper to run. Public universities have also ramped up arts course enrolments at the expense of science, technology, engineering and mathematics. [1]

A related consequence is that staff are overburdened by their teaching loads and pay little attention to research. This is partly why Sub-Saharan Africa produces only one per cent of all global research. [2]

Thirdly, the introduction of tuition fees that began in the 1990s has continued to lock out poorer students who cannot pay. This amounts to lost talent the continent desperately needs.

The answer may lie in shaking up how universities approach businesses, including informal ones. Universities will be better able to make meaningful contributions to society by working with the private sector to develop innovations people actually need and want.
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Strengthening University-Private Sector Partnerships in Agriculture – The Fifth RUFORUM Biennial Conference and African Higher Education Week

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Over 600 delegates, including 300 graduate students, 60 university Vice-Chancellors, policy makers, development partners and several delegates from all over Africa, Asia, Europe and America will convene at the Fifth RUFORUM Biennial Conference and African Higher Education Week during the week of 17-21 October 2016 in Cape Town, South Africa. Key Speakers confirmed for this conference include; Her Excellency Ameenah Gurib-Fakim, The President of Mauritius, Her Excellency Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, African Union Chair and Reeta Roy, The President and Chief Executive Officer at The MasterCard Foundation.

Higher Education has been highlighted as a critical component of implementing the Science, Technology and Innovation Strategy for Africa (STISA 2024), and the African Union Agenda 2063. The RUFORUM African Higher Agricultural Education Weeks and RUFORUM Biennial Conferences, conceptually, focus on providing a platform for African Universities and other higher education stakeholders, including graduate students, to discuss and tackle ‘frontier’ issues that are critical in transforming African Universities towards enhanced relevance for development in Africa, particularly through postgraduate training. The Conferences showcase RUFORUM students’ and other cutting edge university-led research in Africa.

The Fifth African Higher Agricultural Education Week and RUFORUM Biennial Conference will be held 17-21 October 2016 in Cape Town, South Africa along the theme “Linking Agricultural Universities with Civil Society, Private Sector, Governments and other Stakeholders in support of Agricultural Development in Africa”. The Conference is co-organized with the Agricultural Research Council (ARC), Centre for Coordinating Agricultural Research in Southern Africa (CCARDESA), and six RUFORUM member universities in South Africa namely Stellenbosch University, University of Free State, University of Fort Hare, University of KwaZulu-Natal, University of Pretoria and University of Venda.

The event will feature distinguished speakers, plenary sessions, parallel side meetings, an exhibition, and merit awards in agricultural education, research and innovation. For the first time, the conference will place special emphasis on university-private sector partnerships.

“For too long, universities in Africa have operated in a bubble, opaque to the needs of the private sector. Investment in higher education will give us less returns if our products do not address the market demands”, said Prof. Adipala Ekwamu of RUFORUM. “Learning about the issues surrounding university-stakeholder collaborations and crafting how to nurture, grow and maintain these partnerships is the focus of the Fifth RUFORUM Biennial Conference and African Higher Education Week ”,  he added.

The conference is open to all stakeholders in higher education and agricultural development in Africa. Graduate students in agricultural and related sciences, researchers, academicians, development practitioners, philanthropists, civil society, private sector institutions and policy bodies are hereby invited to participate. A call for abstracts is now open for participants who would like to present papers at the event.

Information about registration, application for side events and exhibitions is available on the conference website. You can also join the conversation on Twitter using #AfricaHEWeek2016 and follow @ruforumsec for updates.

Click here to download the press release.