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RUFORUM 10th Anniversary: African universities must be more responsive to societal challenges

August 11, 2014

The 4th Regional Universities Forum for Capacity Building in Agriculture (RUFORUM) Biennial Conference was held from July 19-25 in Maputo, Mozambique under the theme "The Role of Networking and Harnessing Innovations In Higher Agricultural Education". CTA is a long-standing RUFORUM partner with networks across Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific regions, as well as Europe.

AIFHSE-Tool-Working-Group-Session

Higher Agricultural education is becoming increasingly important, especially in sub-Saharan Africa. Networks and innovations are critical in supporting core missions of training and research. Due to the significant increase in the demand for higher education in the last two decades, the conference emphasized the importance of improving networking and strengthening the engagement of higher agricultural institutions in innovation systems. In particular to improve areas of teaching, research and outreach for greater impact. For example, in Kenya the number of public universities has grown from 7 in 2010 to 32 in 2014. Other challenges confronting many universities concern the increasing number of students in the faculty of agriculture (e.g., from 100 students to 1,200 students) who have insufficient laboratory accommodation (e.g., from 40 students/week to 450 students/week), and inadequate computer facilities (1 computer available for 4 students).

Overcoming these challenges call for a model embraces regionalization and collective action. For example, two of RUFORUM's successful programmes is the implementation of RUFORUM's Research Methods (MSc) and Food Science and Technology (PhD) graduate programmes.

2014 African Year of Agriculture and Food and Nutrition Security in Africa

The RUFORUM Biennial was also held within the framework of the African Year of Food and Nutrition Security. In 2010, CTA launched a collaboration with its partners including the Centre for Sustainable Development & Food Security of Wageningen University and Research Centre (CSD&FS) and regional universities networks and RUFORUM to provide adequate responses for transforming Tertiary Agricultural Education for addressing developmental challenges.

Olivier-Bello

During the two days (19-20 July 2014) pre-conference side event, CTA exposed over 40 deans and senior university officials to the Auditing Instrument for Food Security in Higher Education (AIFSHE) tool to garner their feedback on the utility of the tool and methodology for increasing university engagement, quality and relevance in addressing the FNS challenge.

Read more about the AIFSHE tool.

Judith Francis, Senior Programme Coordinator, Science & Technology Policy and Chair of the CTA-led workshop shared ACP lessons on FNS programmes from Africa-EU Science, Technology and Innovation Bi-regional Cooperation. As CTA's official voice at this conference,