“African Universities are in a change process- they are no longer ‘ivory towers’, but part of practitioners championing rural transformation in Africa”

RUFORUM Exhibitions during the FARA @15 Celebrations

RUFORUM Exhibitions during the FARA @15 Celebrations

Over the years, it has become increasing important for the RUFORUM Secretariat to strengthen its brand as the focal point for Agricultural Capacity Building for Africa referred to as “Training the next Generation of Scientists for Africa”. To achieve this, the Secretariat works with its member based universities to realize its vision – “a vibrant agricultural sector linked to African universities which produce high-performing graduates and high-quality research responsive to the demands of Africa’s farmers for innovations and able to generate sustainable livelihoods and national economic development”.

Exhibitions are one of the channels that the RUFORUM network uses to profile its activities and innovations to consumers of its products and services and the wider public. The exhibition platform during the “Celebrating FARA @15” conference, 24-28 November 2014 that took place in Johannesburg, South Africa, provided an opportunity for the RUFORUM Secretariat and member Universities to profile their  R&D activities.  A total of seven (7) exhibition booths were occupied by the RUFORUM network at the “Celebrating FARA@15” week. RUFORUM Secretariat arranged for seven universities from the network to participate in the exhibition, namely; Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources (LUANAR) from Malawi; Kyambogo University from Uganda; University of Eldoret from Kenya; University of Nairobi from Kenya; Makerere University from Uganda; University of Zambia from Zambia; the RUFORUM Secretariat hosted in Uganda also had an exhibition stand. Click here to download full report

Written by Jon Spaull – SciDevNet

This film focuses on the work of researchers from Makerere University, Uganda, in Rakai district, an area of the country whose farmers are particularly prone to climate change-induced water vulnerability. As part of the WATERCAP project, they have helped transform local people’s lives. Through the introduction of low-tech innovations, the farmers now enjoy year-round access to safe water for both farming and domestic use. And the researchers have been able to augment their academic training with knowledge gained from working alongside the farmers in the field.

WATERCAP, a collaboration between Makerere University, Egerton University in Kenya and the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences in Austria, was funded by the Austrian Development Agency. Operating in Kenya and Uganda, it has aimed to increase the capacity of participating universities to contribute to the mitigation of climate change in smallholder agriculture. It was also designed to use the interaction with local communities to improve university curriculum and ensure research is more relevant to farmers’ needs.

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WAAt a prominent meeting of African Union (AU) officials and higher education actors from across the continent, held at the Birchwood Hotel and OR Tambo Conference Centre in Johannesburg, South Africa, between 23-24 November, the Regional Universities Forum for Capacity Building in Agriculture (RUFORUM) announced a landmark operational move to Western Africa.

As part of a consultation exercise with Deans and Principals of African Schools and Faculties of Agriculture and related Sciences, the announcement heralded the development of the organisation’s new five-year strategic business plan for 2016-2020.  The decision to expand its operational coverage from traditionally Eastern, Central and Southern Africa was reached following ground-breaking recommendations from RUFORUM’s biennial conference held in Maputo, Mozambique, in July this year and by the signing of a memorandum of understanding with the AU Commission.

Having recently extended its research and training linkages to several countries in Western Africa, RUFORUM will now focus more closely on three anchor countries – Benin, Ghana and Nigeria – as part of a phased growth plan that has seen its higher education network increase from 10 universities in five African countries in 2004, to 46 universities in 22 nations, with the additionally announced admission of: University of Pretoria, South Africa; Nelson Mandela Institute of Science & Technology, Tanzania; University d’Abomey Calavi, Benin; University of Cape Coast, Ghana; and the University of Port Harcourt, Nigeria.

Commenting after the announcement, Professor Adipala Ekwamu, the Executive Secretary of RUFORUM, remarked: “This landmark decision by RUFORUM is a great day for agriculture in Western Africa.  It augments RUFORUM’s role as the voice of higher agricultural education across the continent, as part of a phased organisational expansion that builds upon our existing shared institutional experiences and extends our collective footprint.” Download full press release

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