The Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA) has been honoured in the prestigious 2015 World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) Project Prizes. The Centre won the e-agriculture category for its youth and ICT programme – Agriculture, Rural Development and Youth in the Information Society (ARDYIS).  The prize was presented in Geneva, Switzerland, during the WSIS Forum 2015, the biggest international event in the ICT for Development calendar.

CTA’s ARDYIS entry was proclaimed winner of the e-agriculture category at the prize-giving ceremony on May 26, following a round of online voting and a review by a panel of experts. The prize marks the second time that CTA has won a WSIS award. In 2013, the Centre’s Web 2.0 and Social Media Learning Opportunities programme was also named winner of the WSIS Project Prizes contest in the e-agriculture category.

Each year, a series of WSIS Project Prizes recognises initiatives that help to further the goals of bridging the global digital divide and ensuring wider distribution of the benefits that can be generated by information and communications technology (ICT). Launched by the United Nations in 2011, the awards span 18 categories and offer a platform to showcase success stories and models that can be easily replicated.

The CTA ARDYIS programme, a group of initiatives aimed at 18 to 35-year-olds living in African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries, seeks to connect young people with ICTs and promote their use for agricultural development and enterprise. Key activities include the Youth in Agriculture Blog Competition (YoBloCo Awards), which has so far attracted nearly 300 agricultural blogs, and the AgriHack Talent contest, which supports the development of ICTs, mobile apps and entrepreneurship in agriculture.

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e-Capacities is an online marketplace for the supply and demand of capacities in strategic human capital formation. The platform provides a real-time review of the levels of capacity and demand in each participating country and dynamically estimates the capacity gaps for use in priority setting and targeting of investments. eCapacities connects training providers, workplaces and graduates and allows them to interact with each other in contextualised and mutually beneficial ways. e-Capacities is a platform that tracks and reports on the supply and demand of skills and competencies in the agricultural sector in order to identify the gaps and the needs for support and investment in:

  • Capacity strengthening
  • Assisting employers with identifying and recruiting people with relevant skills
  • Helping guide career path planning
  • Facilitating graduate tracking and managing Alumni

The e-Capacities platform is operated by the Capacity Development Joint Action Group (CD-JAG) – a community of practice for learning, monitoring and joint action for institutional change in Africa. Click here to read more about e-Capacities.

QS Rankings: SU agriculture and forestry experts the most influential in SA. Photo Credit: Stellenbosch University

QS Rankings: SU agriculture and forestry experts the most influential in SA. Photo Credit: Stellenbosch University

Written by: Engela Duvenhage from Stellenbosch University

Where studies and research in agriculture and forestry are concerned, Stellenbosch University (SU) ranks as the most sought after and influential institution in South Africa. It is also ranked among the top 100 institutions worldwide in these fields, according to the QS World University Rankings by Subject for 2015.

SU is considered one of the world’s elite institutions in 10 of the 36 subjects featured on the list. This authoritative annual ranking serves as a useful guide for prospective international students. It indicates which universities are the most sought after and influential in specific fields of study. Institutions are measured based on their academic reputation, how highly regarded they are by employers, and their research impact.

According to Prof Danie Brink, acting dean for the Faculty of AgriSciences at Stellenbosch University, the results indicate the quality and applicability of the research undertaken in the faculty.

He thanked staff, co-workers, industry partners and postgraduate students for their contributions towards making Stellenbosch University a leader in agricultural research.

“We want to be increasingly involved in agricultural endeavours both in South Africa and Africa as a whole. Through our research and training we wish to contribute to the development of applicable technology, human resources and policy, in order to unlock the available potential in a sustainable manner for the benefit of society,” explains Prof Brink.

Most studies and research in agriculture at SU are conducted within the eleven departments of the Faculty of AgriSciences. These include the Departments of Agronomy, Forest and Wood Science, Conservation Ecology and Entomology, Genetics, Soil Science, Horticultural Sciences, Agricultural Economics, Plant Pathology, Animal Sciences, Food Science, and Viticulture and Oenology. The faculty is furthermore also home to the Institute for Wine Biotechnology and the Institute for Plant Biotechnology, as well as four SARChl Chairs – in meat science, wine biotechnology, plant biotechnology and postharvest technology.

The Department of Forest and Wood Science in the Faculty of AgriSciences is the only tertiary institution in South Africa to offer both graduate and postgraduate courses in wood product sciences, forestry and natural resource management. It attracts many postgraduate students from other African countries.

According to Dr Pierre Ackermann, chairperson of Forest and Wood Sciences, the Department’s success is due to the fact that activities are focused on the full value chain within forest and wood sciences, and not merely parts thereof.

“The Department is also in the unique position to effectively service forestry and processing industries locally and in the rest of Africa. This is done through capacity development programmes and research conducted by a small but talented team of lecturers and researchers,” he says. “Our continued cooperation with European and North American institutions further underlines the Department’s credibility.”

Seven South African institutions (UCT, Wits, UP, UKZN, Rhodes, SU and UJ) took part in the latest QS ranking. The SU consistently appears in the top five positions nationally. It scored top honours in Agriculture and Forestry; second in Biological Sciences, Chemistry and Mathematics, third in Medicine, Environmental Sciences, Development Studies and Geography and fourth in English Language & Literature as well as Law.

On an overall international level, SU is ranked in the following positions, performing best in Development Studies at #46; followed by Agriculture & Forestry – #51-100; English Language & Literature – #151-200; Geography – #151-200; Law – #151-200; Biological Sciences – #251-300; Medicine – #251-300; Environmental Sciences – #251-300; Chemistry – #301-350; and Mathematics – #301-350.

“Rankings can be problematic in certain respects, but they are the global academic currency of our time. The achievement is however a clear indication that Stellenbosch University is indeed a world-class institution that can compete with the best in the international arena. I would go as far as saying that the SU brand is still undervalued. The achievement is also an endorsement of the academic and research excellence of an institution that has distinguished itself as an active and relevant role player in a global context,” SU Rector and Vice-Chancellor, Prof Wim de Villiers said.

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This story has been reproduced from the Stellenbosch University website.


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