The road to Maputo: 21-25 July 2014.
This is the second in a series of articles we are releasing as part of our 10 year anniversary. The author, Joyce Moock, is a former Associate Vice President of the Rockefeller Foundation and was instrumental in founding FORUM, the predecessor programme to RUFORUM. Click here to see our first release where we announced the anniversary celebrations.
In over a little more than two decades RUFORUM has evolved from a regional, crop-based network of five agricultural faculties into a blockbuster regional consortium of 32 universities in eastern, central and southern Africa. It is now a wholly African governed and managed network with a Secretariat, housed at Makerere University, which provides the platform for catalyzing change in African higher level capacity building.
The RUFORUM model is deliberately based on a high leverage concept that brings about broad change in universities. Through competitive sub-grants, specialized training sessions and intensive knowledge sharing, it exposes universities to both demand and opportunities to produce more relevant graduates and research to serve poor rural communities. RUFORUM’s learning network has been able to impact attitudes, curricula, pedagogical standards and university partnerships with smallholder farmers and with a wide assortment of agricultural development agencies. By operating in a network mode, RUFORUM creates economies of scale in delivering these services. To date, it has served over 1197 postgraduate students (1005 MSc and 192 PhD) and 2,340 faculty, with nearly 40% of the student grants awarded to women. Its Biennial Conferences attract over 600 participants from inside and outside Africa. Its impactful community action programs have drawn support from numerous funders. And the innovations keep coming. Most recently, nine of RUFORUM’s member universities have committed to host a graduate teaching assistants exchange whereby the host university waives fees and provides accommodation for PhD students and staff nominated by their universities. The sending universities provide travel, stipend and research funds. In turn, the host university is eligible to send staff for specialized training to a sister university under the same arrangement. Click here to view or download the full issue
In 2014, the Regional Universities Forum for Capacity Building in Agriculture (RUFORUM) celebrates 10 years as a network of universities and 22 years of addressing tertiary agricultural education issues in eastern, central and southern Africa. The Network was created to provide university support to the implementation of the Comprehensive African Agriculture Development Program (CAADP), an initiative by African Heads of States and Governments to revamp the agricultural sector and ensure food and nutrition security on the continent. During this period, RUFORUM has worked with universities, small farmers, policy organs and other partners to ensure high quality graduates and research that is relevant to sustainable agriculture and rural development in eastern, central and southern Africa. 2014 marks the tenth anniversary for both RUFORUM and CAADP.
RUFORUM has grown under the guidance of senior African professionals, from a crop-based Rockefeller Foundation programme (FORUM) into a regional broad-based consortium of 32 universities in 18 countries in eastern, central and southern Africa (see Box 1). Its strategic goals are based on two assumptions. First, development is more likely to occur where there is an active, well-informed critical mass of locally based agricultural professionals to conduct relevant problem-solving research. Second, the results of such research are more likely to be applied when based on strengthening a demand-driven research agenda – via linkages to smallholder farmers, community organizations, service agencies and policy makers to ensure research relevance and impact on the one hand and matching training and education to the potential job market on the other. Click here to read more on the RUFORUM Celebration@10
The 2014 RUFORUM Biennial Conference is the fourth in the series. Its main objective is to provide a platform for agricultural research to development stakeholders in Africa and elsewhere. The biennial aims to allow participants to exchange findings, experience, and lessons learned in order to improve the performance of the continent’s agriculture sector and impact on people’s livelihoods. It is especially dedicated to the network’s postgraduate students and their supervisors, grantees in RUFORUM’s member universities, and members of the RUFORUM alumni family. It is a platform for peer review, quality control, mentorship, networking, and shared learning.
This year’s biennial coincides with RUFORUM’s tenth anniversary and the African Union Commission decision to celebrate 2014 as a year of agriculture and food security in Africa and to mark the 10th anniversary of the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP). Thus, the 2014 Biennial will provide an opportunity to African universities, researchers, development practitioners, and others to reflect on progress over the last decade and device strategies or options for accelerating agricultural progress on the continent. RUFORUM anticipates over 300 participants from within and outside Africa. The 2014 Biennial will link stakeholders in agriculture to new products and trends, with a particular focus on strengthening partnerships for higher education in agriculture. Biennial participants will have an opportunity to showcase their contributions to agricultural development in Africa. Young researchers will be exposed to innovative agricultural research and will have an opportunity to strengthen their communication skills through participation in special workshops, poster sessions, and participation in panel sessions.Read more by clicking here