Community Action Research Grants: Connecting Universities to Rural Producers
This is our sixth issue in a series of articles we are releasing as part of our 10 year anniversary. Download by clicking on the following issues to access the previous issues; RUFORUM Small Competitive Grants; GRGs – Graduate Research Grants (fifth issue) RUFORUM Network: Changing Pedagogical Paradigms, Priorities, and Practice (fourth issue), Briefing note on the 4th biennial conference (third issue), RUFORUM’s Developmental Roots (second issue) and RUFORUM@10 (first issue).
If agricultural transformation is to be a central component in achieving the African Agenda 2063, there needs to be a significant increase in the skills available in rural areas to ensure a radical improvement in the quality and focus of the services supporting the sector. Universities already house a wealth of highly qualified professionals and can produce the research and graduates to fuel sustainable agricultural growth and rural incomes, provided these universities are tasked, and equipped, to respond to actual demand, sharing their knowledge in ways that reach small farmers.
The Regional Universities Forum for Capacity Building in Agriculture (RUFORUM), through its network of 41 universities in eastern, central and southern Africa, is engaged in linking smallholder farmers and their servicing agencies much more closely with faculty and students. These links are both to enable the farmers to articulate their demands and also to make the ideas, research and skills of the universities available in ways that directly assist the farmers to increase output and profitability in sustainable ways.
In 2010 RUFORUM expanded its Competitive Grants (CGS) programme to incorporate 3 pilot Community Action Research Projects (CARPs). These $350 000 projects, each led by a professor as the principal investigator (PI), fund a PhD student, 3 M.Sc students and 10 undergraduate students to work with primary producers¹ in a participatory research framework, on a platform that includes other agricultural service agencies². These action platforms are expected to become an integral part of university outreach nationally, and the lessons learned are then shared across all the RUFORUM universities. Click here to view or download the full issue.
¹Including smallholder farmers, fisher-folk, foresters, and also small processors, traders etc
²Relevant service agencies providing inputs, advice, support etc – government, civil society, private sector and international.