The International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) with several national and international partners are implementing a development into research project, “N2Africa- Putting Nitrogen to work for smallholder farmers in Africa” in eleven African countries including Uganda. The project seeks to build sustainable partnerships and expertise in nitrogen fixation to improve soil fertility, increase productivity, food security, nutrition and income through improved grain legumes for smallholder farmers. In Uganda the project is implemented in northern, eastern and southwestern Uganda.
Women are integral and critical players in the grain legume value chains in these regions. However due to gender dynamics at community and household level, women receive limited support and hence limited benefits from their efforts in these value chains. This also translates to poor household diets and poverty amongst most of rural women farmers. It is from this standpoint that the N2Africa project wishes to engage a graduate student to conduct an in depth study to unravel the gender issues and dynamics in the grain legume value chains for groundnut, climbing bean and soyabean in the project areas in northern, eastern and southwestern Uganda, and to identify opportunities for establishing women-led businesses along the grain value chain. Click here to download the full call.
Prof Wim de Villiers, Dean of the University of Cape Town’s (UCT) Faculty of Health Sciences, was appointed the new Maties Rector and Vice-Chancellor by the Stellenbosch University (SU) Council earlier today.
De Villiers (55), a Matie alumnus and medical doctor who studied and worked in England and America for 21 years, succeeds Prof Russel Botman, who passed away unexpectedly in June. He becomes the University’s 12th rector (although the title of this post has changed a number of times through the years). He will take office in 2015, but the exact date is not known yet [1 April has since been confirmed]. In the meantime, Chief Operating Officer Prof Leopoldt Van Huyssteen will stay on as acting Rector and Vice-Chancellor.
“I feel honoured and am very thankful for this opportunity,” De Villiers said about his appointment. “Stellenbosch is a jewel in the crown of higher education in South Africa, and with the right leadership and good teamwork we can reach new heights, both locally and internationally.”
Mr George Steyn, Chairperson of the SU Council, said De Villiers’s appointment heralds a new era for the University. “We are looking forward to Prof De Villiers breaking new ground – also in the run-up to our centenary in 2018. Not only is he an excellent academic and manager, but he has the necessary insight and vision to be a worthy successor to Prof Botman.”
De Villiers was “born and bred in Stellenbosch”, the youngest child of the late Prof AB de Villiers, who would later become Dean of Law at SU, and Mrs Gera de Villiers (née Klomp) of Kroonstad. He matriculated from Paul Roos Gymnasium in 1977 with top marks in the then Cape Province, and passed his MBChB at SU cum laude. He received the Francie Van Zijl and Chancellor’s medals for academic achievement.
He decided to “spread his wings” and obtained a DPhil in Immunology at Oxford University, England, in 1995. He then went to America to gain more experience – at the University of Kentucky Medical Centre in Lexington. He later also obtained a master’s degree in health-care management from Harvard University.
“I thought I would stay for 18 months, but it turned out to be 18 years! It was worthwhile, though.”
In the USA De Villiers practised as a gastroenterologist and also established himself as a respected researcher in this field. He was included in the publication Best Doctors in America, and held a number of senior positions at the University of Kentucky, including Head of Gastroenterology, and Administrative Head in the UK HealthCare organisation with an annual budget of more than $1,2 billion.
“Then the pull of the fatherland became too strong to resist,” and he accepted the dean’s post in Cape Town in July 2013. Now he is looking forward to the next chapter in his career. Read more
As the first PhD student successfully placed under the RUFORUM Graduate Teaching Assistantship (GTA), Mr Anthony Mwije shares his experience of the programme. When I saw the RUFORUM GTA advert, I knew my chance to enroll for PhD studies in a University of my choice had arrived. Immediately, I started working on my application for the GTA as well as admission to Stellenbosch University. I was successful with both applications and have now joined the laboratory and research group at the Faculty of AgriSciences, Stellenbosch University which comprises a team of my supervisors, Dr. Elmi Lotze and Dr. E. W. Hoffman. My research is about the “Dynamics of sunburn reduction in apple fruits upon application of calcium and boron minerals.”
Sunburn is a form of heat and temperature stress that negatively affects fruit and vegetable farming. With increased incidence of drought, brought about by climate change and global temperature rise, it is important to find sustainable solutions to protect crops and reduce production costs. Farmers have attempted to reduce sunburn in crops by using shades, irrigation and spraying reflective substances on fruits, but these have not been sustainable and are expensive. My PhD study will, for the first time, investigate the possibility of reducing sunburn in apples by spraying their leaves with mineral nutrients to to boost antioxidant activity or stabilise plant cells in the fruits. I am pleased to be the first GTA Fellow and I am proud to be associated with the history of this exciting fellowship. I am also happy that I will attain PhD training at Stellenbosh University, one of the top universities in Africa and I hope I will be of immense use when I return to my Department.
Mr Mwije holds a First Class Bachelors degree in Agriculture (Crop Science) and a Masters degree in Crop Science both from Makerere University obtained in 2009 and 2014, respectively. He works in the Department of Agricultural Production, School of Agricultural Sciences at Makerere University and specialises in Plant Physiology and Biotechnology. The RUFORUM Graduate Teaching Assistantship (GTA) was initiated by 42 African Vice Chancellors whose universities are members of RUFORUM. It aims to build the capacity of their staff members in order to accelerate the production of PhDs in the agricultural sector in Africa. Within the GTA mechanism, the sending university provides upkeep and research fees for their staff member (PhD student) while the receiving/host university assigns teaching responsibilities to the student and waives tuition fees. Applications for GTAs are open throughout the year. Details of the application procedure are online at: https://blog.ruforum.org/2015/03/31/phd-training-opportunities-under-the-ruforum-graduate-teaching-assistantship-program