FAO and RUFORUM link students and local communities for enhancing sustainable agriculture and reducing rural poverty in Africa
In 2018 the Regional Forum for Capacity Building in Agriculture (RUFORUM) implemented the Community-Based Field Attachment Award (CFAPA) program, which was supported by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) for promoting youth support for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and in particular, SDG2 – End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture.
CFAPA program is designed as graduate student placement in rural community to apply, scale-out and disseminate thesis research findings which can contribute to the increasing of the sustainability and resilience of small-scale agriculture, improving livelihoods and reducing rural poverty. The program aims to:
- Provide an opportunity for the student to link academic work with the experience of rural community and engage in knowledge exchanges with local farmers;
- Provide local implementing agencies (local government, rural institutions, farmers groups, NGOs etc.) with the specialized knowledge of the student to scale out the research findings and promote new approaches for improving livelihoods and reducing rural poverty;
- Provide the student with practical skills to apply research findings in development-related field projects, engage with local communities and generate innovative solutions to improve rural livelihoods.
In 2018 after competitive selection process, 10 students from RUFORUM member universities received grants to implement their field projects in rural communities in Benin, Uganda, Kenya and Lesotho. For 6 months, students interacted with local farmers to exchange knowledge and develop innovative solutions for enhancing nutrition and food security, improving sustainable agriculture and livestock production practices, strengthening collaborations along local food-value chains for rural income generation and other themes.
To disseminate their research results and promote innovative approaches, students targeted a wide range of stakeholders from rural communities, including farmers, agricultural traders, farmer associations, community health institutions, veterinary and extension services and rural community leaders, with a particular emphasis on women, youth and small-scale farmers. Students organized interactive workshops and trainings, presentations and radio shows to increase the outreach. Students also produced short videos to document their field work.
Annex 1. Increasing commercialization and profitability of indigenous chicken production through innovation platforms in Omoro district, Northern Uganda
Aryemo Irene Penninah, a student of Gulu University in Uganda, wrote her Master thesis on Commercialization and profitability of indigenous chicken production, and she was awarded a grant to disseminate her research findings and train local chicken innovation platform members in Omoro district. During her university research she learned about several issues which have had a negative impact on the commercialization of chicken production in the area, including poor management of chickens that lead to high mortality rates, lack of understanding amongst farmers how food value chains function and limited relations between different actors along local agri-food value chains.
To increase commercialization and profitability of chicken production, Aryemo trained local farmers on strategies to increase flock size and enhance chicken management practices, explained about production and marketing activities to increase farmers’ incomes and organized activities to inform rural community how to keep the innovation platform alive through facilitation of business to business linkages amongst different actors along the chicken production value chain.
Annex 2. Sustainable multiplication of improved common bean seed in favour of smallholder farmers of Buhimba and Kiziranfumbi sub-county Hoima district, Uganda
Nicholus Mbabazi, a student of the University of the Free State, Uganda, received an award to disseminate his research findings on sustainable multiplication of improved common bean seed for small-holder farmers.
The field attachment focused on adoption and multiplication of improved beans aimed at climate change adaptation to capitalize on the high farmers’ perception and awareness levels about climate change and stimulate appropriate climate change adaptation strategies. Through trainings and workshops, student provided climate information to farmers to inform timely planting, encouraged adoption of improved and drought tolerant seed varieties and promoted soil conservation practices like the use of fertilizers that are effective at increasing resilience of the smallholder farming systems. He also presented sustainable strategies including farmers’ group formation, which can ease access to credit, to encourage smallholder farmers to adapt to climate change and climate variability.
Through trainings, the student sensitized around 300 smallholder farmers on bean sustainable production practices and also did two radio presentations in local language on sustainable bean production to enhance outreach.
Annex 3. The list of implemented Community-Based Field Attachments in 2018