Written by Prossy Nandudu – New Vision
The growing population in Africa calls for more innovation in research to come up with crop varieties that are high yielding and tolerant to pests and diseases and effects of climate change.
This is the reason why the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) in partnership with Makerere University Agriculture Research Institution Kabanyororo (MUARIK) are sponsoring a total of 30 students from all over the region for a Master’s Programme in Plant breeding and Seed systems.
AGRA will be offering the finds while MUARIKI will offer the premises and facilities and is taking on students from Rwanda, Uganda, S.Sudan, Benini, Malawi, Kenya, and Ghana among others.
The sponsorship package worth 2.6 million US dollars will cover tuition fees for the students for the entire programme, internship costs and facilitation of supervisors among others.
According to the programme officer, Education and Training (PASS) at AGRA, Dr.Rufaro M. Madakadze, this is aimed at building capacity among African Scientists to develop improved varieties to cater for the increasing demand for improved seed varieties in Africa.
Madakadze said that one of the challenges that have been failing African scientists from progressing is lack of literature and training material for plant breeders.
“We discovered that some of the teaching aids were too old and irrelevant to the present situation. Some areas didn’t have lab equipment so this is an opportunity for students build their confidence,” said Madakadze.
She adds that the programme will not only train plant breeders but will also make sure that they interact with Agro processing Industries especially those into seed trade for better advice especially to consumers.
The programme was initiated by the Regional Universities Forum for Capacity Building in Africa (RUFORUM) in response to the critical need for well-trained plant breeders in the East African Region.
“The regional Programme is designed to produce plant breeders effective and efficient at new variety delivery, wide stakeholder input into the curriculum and programme design participation of lectures from outside the university including other countries supported by RUFORUM,” explains Madakadze.
The advantages of training within the East Africa region, rather than in US or European universities include lower costs, allows Sponsorship of more students, there is better retention of graduates in the region, and an instructional focus and context that is more relevant to their own country among other benefits.
The Coordinator of the Programme at MUARIK, Dr.Richard Edema, explained that researchers grow old, some die some retire leaving out a huge gap therefore such programmes will create a new breed of scientists to continue with research to produce food.
Under the programm, AGRA is helping them redesign the curriculum; helping in facilitating lecturers in addition to connecting the entire compass on wireless internet for students to access notes electronically.
The principal of the college of agriculture sciences and environment Prof.Benard Bashasha said that since it is only Makerere University, offering MSc in Plant breeding, they will be hosting students from other universities interested in the programme.
This article has been reproduced from the New Vision, a Ugandan Newspaper publication house.
During the week of 13 – 17 the April, 2015, the RUFORUM Secretariat together with development partners will be meeting in Stellenbosch University meeting to contribute towards the RUFORUM Strategic Business Plan 2015-2020. Setting the scene for this meeting, are reflections from Prof. Malcolm Blackie, an Independent Consultant and a member of the RUFORUM International Advisory Panel.
CAADP and agricultural transformation
The successful transformation of agriculture has been at the core of impressive change in China, India, Indonesia, Brazil, Mexico, and Argentina. Fundamental to this achievement has been building capacity in all aspects of agricultural change – from technology development and transfer through infrastructural development and the processing of agricultural commodities into consumer products – to create dynamic research and technology transfer institutions that are focused on finding solutions that suit their local context – environmentally and socio-economically. The World Bank’s 2008 World Development Report, published just before the massive food price rises of 2007-8, demonstrated that increasing agricultural labour productivity was three times more effective at reducing poverty in developing countries than growth in non-agricultural productivity. This requires increasing smallholder productivity, linking farmers to markets and boosting non-farm jobs in agricultural areas.
African policy makers recognise the importance of a productive agricultural sector key driver of national growth, and have set ambitious targets for major increases in agricultural productivity, employment, and profitability. The Comprehensive African Agricultural Development Programme (CAADP) provides the framework for continent-wide agriculture policy. CAADP aims to achieve at least a 6% growth in the agricultural sector to reduce poverty and food insecurity in Africa – an ambition which will require world-class services in outreach, credit delivery, technology development and transfer, value chain development, and other key sectors; especially given the complexity of many African farming systems. This will require increased investment in physical infrastructure so that farm households are connected to input and output markets. Crucially, this also needs to be supported by appropriate investment in human capital to deliver the services that are necessary to achieve growth, and to address current and future issues within the sector. Africa thus urgently needs to build strong analytical capacity for directing agricultural development.
Highlights from the discussion paper
- CAADP and agricultural transformation
- The RUFORUM challenge
- Doing more with little
- Small grants, agricultural transformation, and the Great African University
- The role of network universities
This piece has been extracted from the discussion paper by Prof. Malcom Blackie during the RUFORUM Strategic Business Plan Meeting held at Stellenbosch University Institute for Advanced Study this week. Click here to download the full discussion paper Investment in higher education.
In the mid ‘90’s, Rockefeller Foundation helped selected FORUM university faculties and departments create special computer labs and networks, equipped with CD-ROM, in order to access bibliographic and abstracting databases in the agricultural sciences, particularly TEEAL, the full-text CD-ROM agricultural library of about 130 journals. RUFORUM has continued to work with its network—organizing training workshops and subsidizing subscription costs. Because these universities have recognized the importance of TEEAL, more than half of them are paying for their own subscriptions, now that RUFORUM is no longer covering the costs.
Information Training and Outreach Center for Africa (ITOCA) in collaboration with Albert R. Mann Library, Cornell University would like to invite applications from eligible institutions for acquiring TEEAL sets. A total of 132 sets will be awarded to institutions in six African countries (Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Ghana, Nigeria, Tanzania and Uganda). The five highlighted countries are RUFORUM countries of operation and we encourage our member universities to apply.
- The institution is located in one of the following countries:
- Burkina Faso,
- Tanzania or
- The Institution has an Agriculture or related fields department or specialises in Agriculture and related fields.
- The Institution does not have a TEEAL set OR
- The Institution would like to upgrade their existing TEEAL set
Eligible institutions who would like to acquire a TEEAL set for their library should complete the application form on page 2 and submit for consideration. All applications will be assessed by a panel with members from ITOCA, South Africa and Albert R. Mann Library, Cornell University.
All applications should be submitted by 30 June, 2015. Only fully completed application forms will be considered. The outcomes of applications will be announced by 30 July, 2015. TEEAL_INSTITUTIONAL_Grants_2015_application_form.
General enquiries can be addressed to:
Subject: TEEAL Institutional Grants