Knowledge for Development

Feature articles

Education and Training in Food Science and Technology to Enhance Food Security in Developing Nations

The population of Sub-Saharan Africa has been growing at an average annual rate of 2.7% in 2013, compared to 0.7% in 2013 for the USA. In 2014, the populations of Nigeria and Niger grew at annual rates of 2.8% and 3.9%, respectively. At the same time, the economies of many African nations have been growing at an annualized rate approaching 4% and urbanization and life expectancy have also been increasing. These trends have created new pressures, especially for achieving food security, fuelling the need for a more productive, diversified and competitive agri-food sector.


Building Capacity for Value Addition: The case of the Faculty of Food and Agriculture, University of the West Indies, St. Augustine, Trinidad and Tobago

Neela Badrie, professor at the University of the West Indies (UWI), St Augustine Campus, provides an exposé of the recent efforts aimed at remodelling the institution to serve as a state of the art agricultural and food research hub for the 15 country member states of the Caribbean region. UWI has a long tradition in championing the processing of locally grown produce and also hosts the Food Technology Unit of the Faculty of Engineering based in Trinidad and Tobago. In 2012, UWI's Faculty of Science and Agriculture was divided into the Faculty of Science & Technology (FST) and the Faculty of Food & Agriculture (FFA). FFA's strategic programming puts emphasis on nutrition, food safety and quality, tropical crop protection and utilisation, agribusiness and entrepreneurship. Areas of current research include food analysis, food preference and sensory studies, food fermentations, processing of root crops (dehydration and extrusion), and food product development (food formulation from novel components). The Faculty also boasts state of the art science laboratories (microbiology and food biology) and is equipped with a range of small-scale equipment suitable for the systematic study of operations involved in the food industry. In addition to participating in international research projects with the EU and Canada, the FFA plans to develop a 200-acre agricultural innovation park through a strategic cooperation agreement between UWI and China Agricultural University (CAU).  


Processing as a driver of agricultural development: the case of Makerere University Food Technology and Business Incubation Centre, Uganda

John Muyonga, shares insights on how the Food Technology & Business Incubation Centre (FTBIC), Makerere University is building a new breed of graduate agro-entrepreneurs in Uganda. The purpose of FTBIC is to develop new value-addition food businesses based on research conducted at the University and to support students to gain practical and entrepreneurial skills as well as contribute to the further development of the agro-food processing industry. Trainees (mostly new graduates) at FTBIC are offered access to processing facilities and provided with technical support in production, marketing and business management. Other food industry clients also benefit from the services which include product development, training in food processing, contract processing, food analysis and technical advice; especially on aspects of quality management, processing and packaging. The FTBIC has facilitated the development of 20 new food processing enterprises and expanded the variety of agro-based food products on the market. It has also helped to strengthen the linkage between food science and technology research, training and business within the university. Given the importance of agriculture to the economies of African and other developing countries, investment in agro-processing is critical to stimulating agricultural development. It can provide the much needed pull for catalysing and sustaining crop and livestock production systems.  


Building a new generation of agricultural scientists in Africa: networking universities – capturing economies of scale

In this feature article, Adipala Ekwamu, Malcolm Blackie and Joyce Lewinger Moock focus on the experiences of an African-led and -managed organization, the Regional Universities Forum for Capacity Building in Africa (RUFORUM), which aims to capture regional economies of scope and scale, to support innovative curriculum design, fill crucial gaps in the availability of postgraduate degrees, and ensure a quality standard for courses. RUFORUM, through its innovative programmes in its member university system and its established regional convening power is an effective advocate for transformation of tertiary agricultural science training and research. Currently, Africa records the lowest numbers of PhDs per 1000 inhabitants and the lowest contribution to global knowledge resources (∼2%). The recent surge of renewed interest in the agricultural sector as an engine of economic growth in Africa has resulted in many new initiatives and the strengthening of ongoing programmes that have been identified as successful. Operating in 18 countries, RUFORUM has a mandate to oversee graduate training and specialized networks in the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) countries. Under the guidance of senior African professionals, RUFORUM has grown from a crop-based network of 10 agricultural faculties into a regional broad-based consortium of 32 universities in Central, Eastern and Southern Africa.  RUFORUM assumes that development is more likely to occur where there is an active, well-informed critical mass of locally based agricultural professionals to conduct relevant research. Another assumption is that the results of such research are more likely to be applied by strengthening a demand-driven research agenda – via linkages to smallholder farmers, small- and medium-sized agro-based enterprises post the farm gate, community organizations and policy makers to ensure the relevance and impact of such research, and by matching training and education to the potential job market.In 2014–2018, RUFORUM will strengthen and scale its core activities, while stepping up its representational role for higher education. 


'Mainstreaming Tertiary Education in ACP ARD Policy Processes: Increasing Food Supply and Reducing Hunger' CTA/WUR Synthesis Workshop

Venue: CTA Headquarters, Wageningen, The Netherlands --Dates: 25-27 September 2013 --The role of universities and other tertiary education institutions in socio-economic development is being reconceptualised. They are increasingly being called upon to move beyond training and the pursuit of knowledge and become more strategic assets with strong forward and backward linkages to the productive sectors to expand their reach and increase their impact at community and national level. For pragmatic reasons, CTA and Wageningen UR in collaboration with ACP universities, partner networks and organizations have chosen food and nutrition security as the initial content domain to determine the extent of engagement of ACP tertiary education institutes in ARD policy processes. This is one of the most pressing issues nationally, regionally and internationally and universities are currently looking for ways to (re)orient their education and training, research and community outreach programmes to remain relevant.  -- Download the poster

Wednesday 25 September 2013 - Friday 27 September 2013

CTA/WUR/ACP universities audit university food and nutrition security programmes

Several countries have developed food and nutrition security policies but food insecurity, hunger and malnutrition remain a challenge. In some cases, national universities have contributed to the elaboration of national and regional policies but their curriculums are not necessarily aligned with them. The Education and Competence Studies Group and the Centre for Sustainable Development & Food Security of Wageningen University and Research Centre, the Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation ACP-EU (CTA), ten universities in Africa, Caribbean and the Pacific and African regional university networks (ANAFE, RUFORUM, TEAM Africa) collaborated in developing the Auditing Instrument for Food Security in Higher Education (AIFSHE) open source tool.


CTA/WUR/ACP Universities launch Food Security Audits

The CTA/WUR project on “Mainstreaming Tertiary Education in ARD Policy Processes” is gaining momentum. Food security audits of university programmes to determine how they are aligned with food security policies and programmes have begun. Professor Arjen and Drs. Bello, Wageningen University and Research centre in collaboration with Dr Newton Nyairo, Kenyatta University conducted the first audit at Kenyatta University, Nairobi, Kenya in early February. The AISHE tool that was co-developed by CTA, WUR and partner universities and networks, was used for undertaking the audits.   Dr Nyairo said “In my opinion and in the opinions of our guests, it was a successful event. We managed to gather both students and lecturers and we had good facilitation in carrying out the self-assessment”. Audits were also conducted at Sokoine University, Tanzania and The University of the West Indies, St Augustine Campus, Trinidad and Tobago during the month of Ferbruary. The audit of the University of the South Pacific’s curriculum, research and outreach programme will take place in Fiji in early March 2013.   Earlier:


Innovations in tertiary education - How can universities respond to Kenyan needs?

For Kenya, integration of science, technology and innovation (ST&I) into national production processes is central to the success of the Government´s policy priorities and programmes based on new innovative ideas, as outlined under Kenya Vision 2030. Traditionally, universities played a key role in the process of economic growth, as both a source of new knowledge and as a trainer of scientists and engineers who work in industries and laboratories. However, global competitiveness, the attainment of sustainable development goals and the need for timely responses, require dynamic institutions with a demonstrated capacity and willingness to innovate.   For Kenya to fully realize the national goal of becoming a knowledge-based economy, provision of a favourable policy environment which emphasizes the universities’ pivotal role in the research and innovation process and necessary financial resources for R&D is a prerequisite. The universities also need to enhance collaboration with industry to be able to respond to the challenges and contribute to speeding up the innovation process. Ensuring the relevance of doctoral education, accessing financial support for research and having the right people is key.  The author is firmly convinced that tertiary education institutions must have a central role in the change process and that R&D funding needs to be increased. The Kenyan R&D sector including research institutes, universities, technical and vocational education and training and innovators will benefit and be able to focus on the national priority areas in a global context.


How to educate in a changing world? Towards competence-based tertiary agricultural education

According to Wals et al. ‘continued globalization and digitalization are not only affecting how we think, what we know, who to believe and how we act, they also affect the role of education in society’. In this regard, they attempt to answer ‘what do we educate for in such a world when things change so fast and knowledge becomes obsolete before you know it?’ For example, Wageningen University started changing their identity by positioning themselves as life science universities, which aspire to contribute to a better world and improved quality of life.In this feature article, Wals and colleagues provide a brief review of some trends in Tertiary Agricultural Education (TAE) within Europe and examines the world-wide shift from traditional transmissive to emerging transformative development of more dynamic competencies in a real-world setting. They note that a number of new competencies are required including: interdisciplinary problem-solving, addressing multiple stakeholder interests, participatory approaches in innovation, interactive methods in conflict resolution, responsive actions regarding community needs, critical media literacy, and social responsibility in entrepreneurship, to name a few, along with those that still connect to specific content areas (e.g. animal science, plant science, environmental science and agro-technology).   This overarching innovation taking place in tertiary agricultural education in Europe is referred to as Competence-based Education and Training (CBET). A synthesis of the requirements for new graduates as defined by the public and the related competencies that are considered relevant is presented. A case study of the ten-step re-design of the MSc curriculum in horticulture at the Jimma University Agricultural College (JUCAVM) in Ethiopia is showcased.Photo:  Jimma University Agricultural College (JUCAVM); source:


CTA / WUR / ACP Universities begin audits – Mainstreaming tertiary education in ACP ARD policy processes: Increasing food supply and reducing hunger

CTA, Wageningen University and Research centre (WUR) and ACP partner universities will begin audits of ACP university teaching, research and outreach programmes as part of the joint project Mainstreaming Tertiary Education in ACP ARD Policy Processes: Increasing Food Supply and Reducing Hunger which was launched in 2012. The audits will take place in February 2013 in Kenya, Tanzania, Fiji and Trinidad and Tobago. These will be followed by audits in Burkina Faso, Niger and Senegal in March/April.The project-team comprising experts from WUR and the ACP partner university will carry out the institutional analysis, using the Auditing Instrument for Sustainability in Higher Education (AISHE) which the team members have developed. This includes a review of the curriculum that supports ARD policy objectives as they relate to food security. This will also provide an overview of events and trial and error activities that have been occurring in the past. The following questions will be answered: What is being done within the university to address the increase of food supplies and the reduction of hunger? What portfolio of activities and provisions (including, policies, capacity development efforts, existing curricula with courses, modules, research programmes, community outreach, etc.) are already in place for trying to achieve the prioritized ARD goals?


Report of the CTA/WUR Inception Workshop on ‘Mainstreaming Tertiary Education in ACP ARD Policy Processes: Increasing Food Supply and Reducing Hunger’

Download below the report.Find out more about the inception workshop (programme, presentations, etc.) here.Several regional policy frameworks have been launched in the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Group of States to improve agricultural performance as well as the food and nutrition situation. At the continental level in Africa, the Comprehensive Agricultural Development Programme (CAADP) provides a framework for African countries to develop their national agricultural development policies and strategies and investment plans. In the Caribbean, the Jagdeo Initiative for transforming Caribbean regional agriculture, the Caribbean Community Agricultural Policy and the Caribbean Regional Food and Nutrition Security Policy and Action Plan have been endorsed at the highest political level. The Pacific Plan was drawn up to guide the developments in the Pacific region.CTA and WUR in collaboration with ACP partner networks, organisations and universities have chosen food security as the initial content domain to determine the extent of engagement of ACP tertiary education institutes in ARD policy processes. The report of the inception workshop held at CTA Headquarters on 18-21 September 2012 to generate consensus, understanding and commitment with respect to the methods for mainstreaming tertiary education in ACP ARD policy processes with a focus on 'Increasing Food Supply and Reducing Hunger' is now available. A key message from the workshop is that TAE's see and recognize the urgency for changes so that they can fulfil a more relevant, leading role in food security, as well as create and retain a new generation of agricultural scientists.


Building Africa-wide capacity in Biosciences

Biosciences provide powerful new ways of improving crop and livestock productivity while minimizing threats to environmental and human health. Problems that so far proved intractable to conventional agricultural research might well be solved in the future by two interrelated fields in the biosciences. These are genomics, which determines DNA sequences that make up the genetic blueprint of organisms, and bioinformatics, computer-based analyses of the vast amount of genetic information produced by genomics.


Innovation: Filling the gap in the South

This monthly newspaper is dedicated to enhancing the visibility of the University Partnerships in Cooperation and Development program of the Association of Colleges and Universities of Canada. This issue includes the following articles:Innovation in support of agriculture, by D. Paquette-Legault (with French translation).This article reports on a succesful intervention in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where genetically improved seeds and innovative on-the-ground training techniques have helped feed 1,200 farming families and helped ensure food security in a region of Africa where until recently people were totally dependent on food aid. Development 2.0: Harnessing technology in the South, by M. Béchard. This article concerns the ways that interactive, Web 2.0 tools can be used to support NGOs’ work in international development. The author investigates how technology and low-cost ICTs such as mobile phones can revolutionize people’s lives in the South. Innovative pedagogies and technology in Tanzania, by M. Farr. University-industry collaboration: Jump-starting innovation, by A. Pereira. This article considers how through research and innovation the Institute Development Research Centre helps remove barriers and create mutually advantageous situations to fuel economic development in the South.Author: Uniworld/Unimonde October 2009 issue


Women’s participation in agricultural research and higher education – key trends in Sub-Saharan Africa

Female farmers play a vital role in African agriculture, accounting for 60 to 80 percent of the agricultural workforce. However, agricultural research and higher education are disproportionately led by men. There is an urgent need for a greater representation of women in the field of agricultural science and technology (S&T) in Sub-Saharan Africa. Female scientists, professors, and senior managers offer different insights and perspectives to help research institutes to more fully address the unique and pressing challenges of both female and male farmers in the region. Gender-disaggregated data on S&T capacity are scarce, often lack sufficient detail, and focus more generally on S&T rather than on agriculture specifically. Data are not always comparable due to different methodologies and coverage. The ASTI initiative and the CGIAR G&D program partnered together to address this information gap. This brief summarizes the key results from their benchmarking survey of 125 agricultural research and higher education agencies in 15 Sub-Saharan African countries.Read the online pdf.


New Dossier: Reshaping Tertiary Agricultural Education

Globalization and rapid advances in information and communication technologies are expanding the opportunities for collaboration and networking while simultaneously spurring competition among firms, nations and regions. Agricultural science graduates are expected to be critical thinkers, multi-disciplinary problem solvers and team players who are also “work ready”. ACP universities are challenged to produce these quality graduates while increasing their efficiency, relevance and effectiveness, in responding to societal needs. Yet, resources – financial and human, are dwindling and demand and competition among national, regional and international universities for staff, students and funding are increasing. In this dossier, attempts are made to find answers to how best to reshape tertiary education in agriculture to meet future needs of ACP agricultural sector. Dr. Paul Kibwika, Makerere University, Uganda and Dr. Arjen Wals, Wageningen University & Research Centre, The Netherlands, plea for academics and scientists to break out of routines that reinforce the status quo, engage with students and the wider society and explore creative and unorthodox ways of solving complex problems to create learning platforms for change. Professor Michael Madukwe, Dean Faculty of Agriculture, University of Nigeria, Nigeria, provides a cluster approach to rethinking the way agricultural education is delivered. Background information on strategies, best practices and case studies for reshaping ACP tertiary education is presented through links to related websites and relevant publications. Visit the new dossier >>


Descending the Ivory Tower and re-making higher education in the era of (un)sustainability

We live in an essentially ‘systemic world’ characterised by multiple causation, interactions and complex feedback loops, yet the dominant educational structures are based on fragmentation rather than connection, relationship and synergy (Sterling, 2001). Universities, confronted with 21st century challenges must therefore not only rediscover, build on and share indigenous ways of knowing and acting, but generate and or adapt new concepts and practices that will contribute to creating a world that is more sustainable. Academics who still believe that universities are Ivory Towers must be willing to make a paradigm shift so that universities become an integral part of the communities that support them. Hence, a challenge to those involved in shaping higher education in agriculture and life sciences in the ACP region is to revisit institutional practices, examine the disciplines and provide more synergy and become more accountable for economic and human development.


Reshaping ACP Tertiary Education in Agriculture

The vital contribution that higher education must continue to make to the development process is increasingly recognized, especially given the growing awareness and acceptance of the role of science, technology, and innovation in economic renewal (UN Millennium Project, 2005). Recently, the Inter-Academy Council (IAC) highlighted the important need for universities in developing countries to become vibrant centres of excellence capable of propelling their nations into the knowledge economy (IAC January 2004; and IAC June 2004). The emerging trends suggest urgency in rethinking and reshaping the way agricultural education within the ACP regions is delivered, particularly at the tertiary level. The focal points that will play a role in the process are grouped into clusters: Knowledge; sustainability; globalization; collaborating, strategizing and funding, and dealt with in some detail hereafter.