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Academia crucial in articulating the aspirations of a hunger free Africa

Unlocking the potential of the youth is key to transform Africa’s agriculture

FAO Representative in Kenya, Gabriel Rugalema addressing participants of the RUFORUM 2018 @FAO/Abebe Banjaw

29 October 2018, Nairobi - The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) called upon leaders of the academia to double their effort to achieve Africa’s aspirations to be a hunger-free continent by 2025 through knowledge generation, quality education provision, policy advice and innovation that can address the challenges of the grassroots.

Addressing African ministers in charge of education, political leaders, the private sector and the youth delegates of the Sixth African Higher Education Week and Regional Universities Forum for Capacity Building in Agriculture (RUFORUM) Biennial Conference 2018, FAO Representative in Kenya, Gabriel Rugalema hailed the academia being a leader in the agricultural transformation discourse.

“There is no better place than higher education to propel the implementation of regional and global commitments, such as Africa’s Agenda 2063 and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).  This is done by tailoring research and training programmes to existing social and economic realities to help solve societal problems,” he said.

“FAO stands firm to provide support to the academia in your effort to create strong partnerships with public and private sectors, and to seek resources to enhance their capacities towards improving the performance of the agriculture sector,” he stressed.

During the plenary session, South African Minister of Higher Education Hon. Naledi Pandor remarked that Africa should get on moving with the implementation of Agenda 2030 with robust planning and programming that can emulate existing interventions in the agriculture sector.

“In doing so, higher education should be strengthened to support evidence-based planning, implementation, and monitoring and evaluation of the transformation Agenda, which Africa has embarked on,” she highlighted.

The plenary centred on the role of universities and research institutions to shape policies and programmes towards making agriculture a dynamic and attractive sector for the youth.

RUFORUM, a consortium of 85 universities in Eastern, Central, Western & Southern Africa, has the mandate to oversee graduate training and networks of specialization in Africa. It closely works with the African Union for strengthening science, technology and innovation capacities in Africa. In 2017 FAO partnered with RUFORUM to catalyse policy debates around the issues related to food and nutrition security and sustainable food and agriculture systems.

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