Skilling graduates to support multidisciplinary research – RUFORUM trains 100


The Master of Science Degree in Research Methods hosted by Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT) is one of the six collaborative regional master’s degree programmes established by the Regional Universities Forum for Capacity Building in Agriculture (RUFORUM). Launched in 2009, the programme was established in response to the large unmet demand in the labour market for professionals skilled in agricultural research methods. In November 2016, the programme graduated 14 master’s students which brings to 100 the total number of graduates who have been equipped with interdisciplinary research methodology skills. The graduates have been drawn from Benin, Burundi, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Rwanda Sudan, Uganda, Tanzania, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

The 2016 MSc Research Methods graduates at Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology categorised by gender and nationality

No. Name Country Gender
1 Immaculee Abingoye  Mayugi Burundi Female
2 Funga Assefa Ethiopia Male
3 Jirata Megersa Tadesse Ethiopia Male
4 Caroline Oywer Kenya Female
5 Somanje  Chifuniro Malawi Female
6 Sophia Isala Namibia Female
7 Donatien Ntawuruhunga Rwanda Male
8 Christopher  Joice South Sudan Female
9 Martin Mwale Zambia Male
10 Johnson Kimambo Tanzania Male
11 Mdemu  Siha Tanzania Male
12 Efrance  Najjuma Uganda Female
13 Wilson Mambo Uganda Male
14 Alma Muropa Zimbabwe Female

Graduates from the course have returned to their home countries and constitute a pool of mid-level practical professionals engaging in policy analysis, research, graduate teaching in Biostatistics and Biometry, consultancy services in data analysis and reporting, and design of Monitoring and Evaluation tools for impact evaluation. Some of the graduates have opted to further advance their qualifications in the field and enrolled for PhD programmes.

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Enhancing Collaboration and Quality in Postgraduate Training: Joint Module Training Delivery in RUFORUM Regional Programmes


In its efforts to strengthen the quality of post graduate training programmes and partnerships, RUFORUM and the member universities are using a combination of innovative approaches in the curriculum design and delivery of the regional postgraduate training programmes. A case is the RUFORUM multidisciplinary PhD programme in Agriculture Rural Innovation (ARI) which is hosted simultaneously by three RUFORUM member universities (Makerere University- Uganda, Egerton University – Kenya and Sokoine University of Agriculture – Tanzania) using same curriculum and content. The PhD ARI Program is implemented in collaboration with three other European universities namely Montpellier Sup Agro in France, Wagenigen University in the Netherlands and University of Copenhagen in Denmark.

With financial support from Carnegie Cooperation of New York, RUFORUM supported the joint implementation of field based module on Participatory Methods and Action Research for innovation in livelihoods and agricultural systems offered under the  PhD Agricultural and Rural Innovations (ARI). This module is unique in delivery as it brings together students from the three universities in Africa and three universities in Europe to a Common facility.  This year’s field training took place in Rakai District in Uganda. A total of 18 students and five academic staff from the consortium spent two weeks in the field to learn together with farming communities. The students were from Africa (DRC, Ethiopia, Ghana, Nigeria, Rwanda, Tanzania, and Uganda); Europe (France and Spain); and Latin America (Guatemala). Female participants represented 31.6%. The diversity of students and staff was a learning resource that enabled substantial cross learning and complementarity of skills.

Above: PhD students in Rakai Working with Communities

Above: PhD students in Rakai Working with Communities

The joint module provides valuable insights on how scientists could engage with communities to undertake research for development. This gives opportunities to students to rethink and nest their research into development challenges of communities as well as apply some of the tools learnt in their own research.

Below there is an anecdotal testimony from one of the students of the field module: “The course offers a different approach to research diversity such as agro-ecological zonation, farm strategy model, and innovation histories as an alternative to statistical representativeness. The most exciting are the hands-on tools and combined approaches such as the use of GPS, GIS, Innovation Histories and Trends which we used to comprehensively understand the communities and their livelihood dynamics. At the end of the course we had an exciting feedback session to provide insights on possible innovative solutions for improving livelihood of these communities. It was good to note the keen interest of the NGOs and policy makers working in the area to take on the suggestions and implement them. I also appreciated an opportunity for co-learning, experience sharing, and team work with fellow classmates from various countries and cultures”.  Mrs. Dorcas Loga Okello

A number of spillover effects have emerged for this arrangement which include; opportunities for joint supervisor of the students by European and African staff hence sustaining partnerships, cross cultural learning, assured consistent quality of the ARI brand (student) across the participating universities. Click here to read more.

Engaging smallholder farmers in cassava value addition in Northern Uganda through community engagement approach


By Sam Elolu[1]

Cassava Project

Cassava is a key staple in Uganda and is increasingly gaining popularity as an income generating crop. The Regional Universities Forum for Capacity Building in Agriculture has engaged university-based research teams to generate innovations and solutions to constraints along the cassava value chain. This storyline features one of the graduate students working with a research team at Gulu University that is focusing on improving the protein and micro-nutrient content of gari (cassava meal) for primary school feeding in North and North Eastern Uganda. It also addresses value addition in cassava as both a food crop and income generating crop.

As a graduate student, my thesis research is based on the understanding that nutrition is key for the proper growth and development of children and pre-requisite for achievement of full human potential. To secure food security and nutritional sufficiency, there are many opportunities and avenues for fortification of staple crops such cassava. Recognising the importance of child nutrition, the Government of Uganda is encouraging provision of school meals (including breakfast for primary school pupils). The use of local foods to provide nutritious and affordable meals for the economically disadvantaged regions of the country is therefore a key intervention that will contribute to the increased school attendance, better nutrition and educational achievement.

The research seeks to optimise the formulation of gari using soy beans and mukene (silver fish) to improve its protein and micronutrient content, assess the acceptability of the nutritionally improved product among primary school children, and test the effect of fortification on the keeping quality of gari.

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Working with the communities to address child malnutrition: experience of a young researcher


prossy2One year after completing my undergraduate studies at Gulu University in 2013, I enrolled for a Master’s in Food Security and Community Nutrition at the same university with a scholarship from the Regional Universities Forum for Capacity Building in Agriculture (RUFORUM) through their Graduate Research Grants (GRG).

The unique design of the masters’ programme that includes a component of community engagement, in line with the university’s vision of community transformation, gave me the opportunity to take on new challenges. Through a community attachment, I came to appreciate community experiences and engage with them in finding solutions to their problems.

My turning point came through a visit to Gulu Regional Referral Hospital, organised by the university. This visit awakened me to the reality of the nutritional crisis in rural households. The number and state of malnourished children was astonishing and compelled me to undertake my community placement in the Nutrition Ward at the hospital.

During the attachment, I helped manage malnourished children admitted to the hospital for nutritional therapy. I also counselled caregivers with regard to nutrition, family planning and provided general psycho-social support. Working at the hospital has been a life changing experience and created in me the desire to tackle the problem at source.

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