New GFAR Steering Committee sets agenda to meet Sustainable Development Goals

gfarDuring a two-day meeting on 8-9 February 2017, members of the Global Forum on Agricultural Research (GFAR) Steering Committee met at the GFAR host organization, FAO in Rome, to set the agenda for this global forum on agri-food research and innovation, towards helping to meet the UN’s 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). GFAR has undergone a major transformation and now brings together a vibrant and fast-growing community of self-declared Partners in GFAR (presently 433 partner organizations), who recognize that these complex challenges can only be met through working together for success. The Forum’s Steering Committee now comprises 34 elected representatives, from across 13 sectors involved in agricultural research and innovation at international, regional and local levels. Prof. Agnes Mwang’ombe of the University of Nairobi is among the new Steering Committee Members, representing the Higher Education Constituency.

Through the meeting in Rome, members of the Steering Committee agreed on the key areas of focus to be addressed in the next GFAR Medium-Term-Plan. Based on the challenges determined through the GCARD3 process and the need to deliver towards the SDGs, the Steering Committee identified the following GFAR key focus areas in 2018-2021:

  1. Enable and empower sustainable rural communities: Poor communities have little say in their own future, nor the innovations needed to get there. Communities need to be able to determine their own futures,through tools such as foresight,farmers’ rights advocacy and capacity development, and to drive and ‘own’ the research, innovation, policies and support needed to achieve their desired sustainable futures.
  1. Increasing knowledge flow for development impact: Innovation systems operate as complex webs, yet links between their elements are often fragmented and disconnected. Multi-stakeholder research and innovation platforms must be fosteredat different levels, to create more effective and equitable systems, capable of collectively generating, accessing and using the knowledgeand resources required for successfully meeting the SDGs.
  1. Supporting transformative learning and youth leadership development:Neither formal nor informal education are as yet meeting the needs of youthfacing global challenges. Comprehensive transformative learning and leadership development schemes are needed, to develop not only academic skills, but also intellectual, spiritual and emotional development,toinspire and equip our youth with the knowledge, skills and attitudes to meet their aspirations, access resources and mobilize themselves to create sustainable rural development.
  1. Changing value systems and metrics to deliver the SDGs:“Agricultural Productivity” has long been the core driver of agricultural research and innovation. However, the SDGs set out much wider development objectives and indicators, all impacted by, or on, agriculture and food systems.Meeting these requires re-thinking the values and metrics for agri-food innovation, and demonstrating delivery towards SDG social, environmental and economic impacts.
  1. Enabling sustainable rural enterprise: Agriculture is often seen as unattractive and in decline and there is a global exodus of rural youth. Sustainable rural enterprise development can address this challenge through using agriculture and food innovation, new developments such as ICTs, value-added linkages to consumers/markets,and supportive policies and inputs,to create new rural enterprise opportunities, particularly for resource-poor women and youth.

Steering Committee members recognized that within this frame, there is tremendous opportunity for a wide range of new and existing networked action towards specific SDG outcomes. The Members set out initial ideas for their actions within each area of focus. These will be further elaborated through input from GFAR Partners in the coming weeks to shape proposed collective actions as the draft GFAR Medium Term Plan 2018-2021.

Also at the meeting, current GFAR Chair, Juan Lucas Restrepo, confirmed his intention to step down, due to an anticipated change of role. The Committee appointed Shantanu Mathur of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) as interim Vice-Chair.

Adapted from the document: Key points summary for GFAR Steering Committee members to share with their constituency

Kenyans, Rwandans and Ugandans: Blog to Win a Trip to Washington, DC

Deadline: December 02, 2016-January 15, 2017 | Online

Agriculture is the backbone of the East African regional economy, as it accounts for about 32% of the region’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Growth in the agriculture sector helps raise incomes, create employment opportunities, reduces poverty, and accounts for about 70% of employment opportunities in Kenya, Rwanda, and Uganda. Despite being a field vibrant with innovations driven by young people, those engaged in agriculture are typically elderly, and the number of youth with jobs in agriculture continues to drop. Why are young people shying away from agriculture? How can agriculture be made ‘cool’ for the youth? It’s your turn to have your say. Tell us, in no more than 500 words, what you see as opportunities for youth to prosper in agriculture and agro-business.


Now in its third year, the #Blog4Dev Contest is an ideas-sharing platform for youth in Kenya, Rwanda, and Uganda. This year, the World Bank wants you to share your thoughts on youth and agriculture.

For a chance to win a trip to Washington, D.C. in April 2017, discuss the following question in an original blog of no more than 500 words:

To farm or not to farm: What opportunities exist for youth to prosper in agriculture and agro-business?

Submit the blog post in English by January 15, 2017 here:


Must be a Kenyan, Rwandan or Ugandan citizen residing in your home country, and be aged between 18 and 28, and the blog post must be written in English.

Selecting Criteria:

A panel of judges made up of World Bank staff in Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda will review the submissions to determine the winning entries.

The winning submissions will be selected on the basis of the following criteria:

  • Originality and creativity
  • Clarity
  • Practicality
  • Potential for scale-up


Seasonal Greetings from RUFORUM


The RUFORUM Secretariat appreciates your continued support and wishes you a Happy Holiday as we look forward to more fruitful partnerships in 2017.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

RUFORUM participates in Regional Consultation on Higher Education in Africa

Right to left: Dr. Peter Materu of The MasterCard Foundation; Hon. Mary Teuw Niane, Minister of Higher Education and Research, Senegal and Prof. Etienne Ehile, Executive Director, Association of African Universities at the Meeting Opening Ceremony

Right to left: Dr. Peter Materu of The MasterCard Foundation; Hon. Mary Teuw Niane, Minister of Higher Education and Research, Senegal and Prof. Etienne Ehile, Executive Director, Association of African Universities at the Meeting Opening Ceremony

RUFORUM participated in a Regional Consultation on Higher Education in Africa hosted by the Association of African Universities and the Government of Senegal. The Meeting, which took place on 21-22 November 2016 in Dakar, Senegal, was sponsored by The MasterCard Foundation. It brought together key stakeholders in the higher education sector in Africa and other global actors to pursue two main objectives: 1) Develop a common understanding of the priorities and approaches that should be adopted to improve the relevance and quality of higher education in Africa; and 2) Develop a common understanding of how development partners can complement ongoing efforts, with a view to improving the relevance and quality of higher education in Africa.

In attendance were key stakeholders from regional and continental higher education institutions, African university vice chancellors, development partners, student representatives, and representatives from universities in the US and UK. The meeting was also graced by the Minister of Higher Education and Research in Senegal, H.E. Mary Teuw Niane, who chaired the opening session.

Discussions during the meeting focused on the key trends influencing the higher education sector in Africa as well as challenges. The insights and recommendations arising from these discussions will feed into The MasterCard Foundation’s wider education and learning strategy for Africa.

During the meeting, RUFORUM also used the opportunity to consult with stakeholders on the messages to deliver to the Committee of 10 African Heads of State and Government championing education, science and technology in Africa.