FARA ED Calls for the Modernization of Africa’s Food Production Systems Through Science at the AfricaHEWeek2016.

The Regional Universities Forum for Capacity Building in Agriculture (RUFORUM) convened the 5th African Higher Education Week and RUFORUM Biennial Conference 2016 in Cape town South Africa from 17th– 21st October, 2016.  RUFORUM is an institution that oversee graduate training and networks of specialization across Africa and primarily within the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA).

With the conference themed “Linking Agricultural Universities with Civil Society, Private Sector, the Governments and other Stakeholders in support of Agricultural Research for Development in Africa”, it brought together people from all strata to deliberate on moving forward the values of Research and Development on the continent.

fara-edSpeaking at the event in his good will message, Dr. Yemi Akinbamijo the Executive Director of FARA emphasized the growing dynamism of the operational context of African Agriculture.

Dr. Akinbamijo mentioned that during the past couple of months, almost all major continent-wide events have sounded the clarion call on the need to galvanize all efforts and move together in synchrony to respond to the demands of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), Comprehensive African Agricultural Programme (CAADPMalabo), Science, Technology and Innovation Strategy for Africa (STISA) and Agenda 2063.

He commented that “…FARA and the constituent Sub-Regional Organizations (SROs) had the 7th Africa Agricultural Science Week (AASW7) and FARA General Assembly which was a turning point in Agricultural Research, the African Green Revolution Forum (AGRF) spoke of seizing the momentum, the African Development Bank (AfDB) endorsed and out-doored its Agriculture Strategy and now RUFORUM – Indeed we’ve got more than a bee and a clover!…”. The red thread in all of these he explained, is the modernization of our food production systems using science.

Further, he observed that the path of a rising Africa is the path we all tread on a daily basis; this biennial conference is but one of the few tools in our hands.

Dr Akinbamijo applauded Prof Adipala Ekwamu, the Executive Secretary and the RUFORUM team for their continuous work at ensuring efficient Capacity Building in Agriculture.

He reiterated that wearing the Capacity Development and Outreach cap of the FARA Mandate, the AfDB-supported Technologies for African Agricultural Transformation (TAAT) and the African Agricultural Research Programme (AARP) are two initiatives that will further allow FARA to continue to support the work of RUFORUM as much as it is necessary.

“Africa has finally decided to take the bull by the horn by taking responsibility for the institutional and technical growth in its agricultural development. The signs of the times show a strong convergence of events too significant to be ignored”.

He commended the different donors especially the Master Card Foundation that supported RUFORUM and have helped put the wind back in the sail of agricultural education.

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The future of university funding and the Private Sector

rb2The factors needed for increased innovation at university level were discussed on Wednesday as the 5th African Higher Education Week and RUFORUM Biennial Conference 2016 entered its second day.

Acknowledging the importance of attracting private sector support, the day kicked off with a session titled Linking Universities with Private Sector for agri-business innovations.

Although the benefits – funding and outcome-based research – were obvious, some delegates pointed out that it would require institutions of higher learning to be more sensitive to the needs of business.

Keynote speaker NORAD  Director General Dr. Jon Lomoy acknowledged the important role that universities will play in shaping a prosperous future for Africa, but said the continent needs to be prepared to invest in institutions of higher learning.

“There is an enormous need to lift African investment in knowledge creation, in research and development,” he told delegates.

He warned that finding the funds won’t be easy, that it will likely require political battles and higher taxes, as well as increased reliance on funding from private sources.

This set the tone for the conversation that followed, in which Prof. Margaret Kamar, Consultant with Global Leaders Consultancy and Former Kenyan Cabinet Minister for Higher Education, Science and Technology, appealed to vice chancellors to take leadership in promoting the relationship between universities and industry.

She further argued for the private sector to be involved in shaping curricula to promote research with an end product in mind as opposed to research for research’s sake.

Mr. Hugh Campbell, General Manager of HORTGRO Science South Africa, made the case for organisations that act as a middleman between the private sector and universities.

He told delegates when you link in with an industry that has specific objectives, you need to have objective-based research and encouraged them to consider mutual benefit and relevance when building a relationship with a business.

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Her Excellency Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma thanked for her Leadership role in driving Africa’s Agenda

By Pauline Atim, Social Media Reporter

H.E Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma (Left), Prof. Peter Mbati, VC University of Venda

H.E Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma (Left), Prof. Peter Mbati, VC University of Venda (Center) and Prof Wim de Villiers Rector and Vice-Chancellor of Stellenbosch University (Right)

In light of her impending retirement from the African Union Chairmanship, Her Excellency Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma was treated to a dinner by RUFORUM, during the Africa Higher Education Week in Cape Town, South Africa. The dinner was held as a token of appreciation for the support, guidance and advice her office has provided to RUFORUM network.

Amongst the distinguished guests was the RUFORUM Board Chairperson Prof. Mabel Imbuga who appreciated the work her Excellency has done at the African Union Commission (AUC) and her support of RUFORUM to implement the Agenda 2063, which spells of the African dream to develop the capacity of farmers to provide enough food for the continent, thus removing Africa from the paradox.

Dr. Mary Shawa, Principal Secretary for Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Welfare in Malawi, also thanked Her Excellency for the bringing of the AUC closer to RUFORUM since 2014 and allowing RUFORUM lead the Science, Technology and Innovation Strategy for Africa (STISA) coordination. She, however, mentioned that agricultural technologies that are modern and yet smallholder farmer-friendly are still lacking even though they are still necessary to improve the African economy and meet the SDG’s. She also noted that information packaging for ordinary smallholder farmers is still poor.

Interestingly, the controversial, yet critical topic that has rocked South African universities, ‘Fees Must Fall’, was brought up in conversation during the dinner. The Vice Chancellor of the University of Venda, Prof. Peter Mbati noted that despite the negative media coverage, South African Vice Chancellors have been meeting to discuss the issue not just amongst themselves but also with the Ministry of Education as well as President Zuma. He further stated that despite the challenges, their aim is still to provide quality degrees not just for South Africa but Africa at large. Thus, there is need for more dialogue with all stakeholders involved. He also lastly stated that the partnership with AUC is the biggest for RUFORUM and thanked Prof. Adipala for the great work he has done to build RUFORUM.

Her Excellency Zuma thanked the guests for allowing the African Union Commission to be a part of the RUFORUM family. She noted that RUFORUM is not just about farmers but also about research to improve farmers and the future of Africa. She further noted that innovation and technology are the lifeline of agriculture giving examples of Universities in Russia and Italy that are excelling through innovation and technology. Furthermore, expansion of teaching spaces through technology is greatly needed in order to train young people to solve community problems and innovate around it. Thus it important for Heads of State, Ministers to support RUFORUM and for RUFORUM itself, to support communities. She finished her speech with thanking RUFORUM and indicating that, there is need for innovate ways to cover up the huge gaps if Africa is to achieve Agenda 2063.


Showcasing Excellence in Youth Innovations in Africa


RUFORUM celebrated the success of young African entrepreneurs who have come up with innovative solutions to address food insecurity and poverty-related challenges on Wednesday morning.

A panel of 15 young people from across the continent showcased their businesses, which addressed a diverse range of issues, including ICT support for smallholder farmers, agri-processing and even capitalising on waste.

The young entrepreneurs were congratulated by African Union Chair Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, who said she was very impressed and wished them success.

She reminded the young innovators that their future is also the future of the continent.

“Your dreams are not just for you; they are your dreams but they are empowering all of us,” Dlamini-Zuma said.

South African youth farmer Dimakatso Sekhoto, who said she ended up in farming “by mistake” after a career in finance, closed the session with an impassioned plea for support of young people in agriculture.