By Dr. Koech Oscar Kipchirchir, RUFORUM-ICRISAT postdoc student
In 2017, I was awarded a Field Attachment Programme Award (FAPA) by RUFORUM to support my field attachment internship at the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) in Kenya. My research interest was on utilisation of sorghum as a source of food and feed in an integrated production system. The main focus was to demonstrate the advantage of crop-livestock integration in arid and semi-arid environments, by comparing the use of animal manure as fertilizer and the crop residue as animal feed versus conventional fertilizer use. The title of my research is, “Effect of organic and inorganic fertilizer regimes and levels on grain sorghum (Sorghum Bicolor L. Moench) growth, yield and feed quality”.
Being the early years of my career since completing my PhD two years ago, I was looking for an opportunity to be involved in research with a CGIAR programme in order to gain skills in research, grant management and post-graduate supervision in addition to growing my professional network. I picked a master’s student in my faculty who had a tuition scholarship from the University of Nairobi, but lacked funds for research to be my research assistant. Her name was Miss Dorcas Kagwiria. The main aim of this arrangement was for me to be the student’s supervisor so as to improve my supervision skills. She in turn was to help me collect and manage data for my research experiment, with a focus on sorghum agronomy (fertility, pest and disease management) while I focused on sorghum growth and productivity as an animal feed resource.
The Regional Universities Forum for capacity Building in Agriculture (RUFORUM) is working jointly with the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) to implement an e-learning hub intended to facilitate access to e-learning resources on food, agriculture and sustainable development. This undertaking will enhance access to the online resources by students, staff and researchers at African universities. To facilitate dissemination among African universities, the e-learning resources will be accessed through a link on the RUFORUM website (www.ruforum.org) that will connect to the FAO e-learning centre where all courses can be accessed free of charge and at the individual’s convenience.
The FAO e-learning resources aim to build the capacities of scientists and development practitioners and provide up-to-date quality knowledge on a variety of topics in the areas of food and nutrition security, social and economic development and sustainable management of natural resources.
A mixture of multimedia content, targeted learning strategies, dynamic screens, interactive tests, exercises with feedback and illustrative case studies will make often complex topics accessible both to the new and more experienced learners wishing to update their skills. Learners and users will also find links to recommended readings and other valuable reference sources. This joint undertaking aims to improve knowledge exchange, capacity building and advocacy initiatives in order to strengthen the technical competences and institutional capacities of higher education institutions in Africa to better contribute to agricultural development on the continent.