Vice-chancellors of 130 African universities have pledged to mobilise resources for continental initiatives that would support human capital development as well as increase Africa’s capability in research, innovation and entrepreneurship with the aim of bettering agricultural productivity.
Under the Regional Universities Forum for Capacity Building in Agriculture (RUFORUM), the VCs work, not only with their national governments, but also with the African Union Commission (AUC), to identify actions and initiatives to improve the sector. They aim to transform agri-food systems across the continent for the betterment of the African people.
“Higher education is acknowledged as one of the greatest equalisers, given its potential for transformational change to lift millions out of poverty. We will ensure that the results of investments in university education, training, research, innovation and outreach programmes, in particular including highly skilled personnel plus the technologies they generate, are used to stimulate local and continental-wide economic recovery and socio-economic development,” said the VCs in a statement.
Among other things, the vice-chancellors will ensure that funds mobilised and made available to universities will be used to finance faculty and students working on priority food systems transformation areas.
This will be done in partnership with actors including smallholders, small and micro enterprises, and the disadvantaged, among them women and refugees, to build trust in the institutions as active participants in Africa’s social and economic progress, according to the statement read by Dr Florence Nakayiwa, the deputy executive secretary of RUFORUM.
“Universities have a duty to ensure that agriculture became attractive to the youth by producing the right research and development throughout the value chain of the sector,” said Professor George Kanyama-Phiri, vice-chancellor of the Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources, Malawi.