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New consortium to spur agricultural education formed
  • New consortium to spur agricultural education formed

Copyright: Flickr/CGIAR Climate

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  • The alliance involves institutions in Africa, India and the United States

  • The members will share resources to help tackle food security issues

  • An expert says it could build the agricultural capacity of African institutions

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[NAIROBI] A new international partnership involving Africa, India and the United States has been launched with the aim to boost agricultural education to help address challenges of global food security, accessibility and affordability.

The initiative called “One Agriculture-One Science” was launched during an international consultative workshop organised in the United States last month (17-18 July) by the International Crops Research Institute for Semi-arid Tropics (ICRISAT) and the US-based University of Florida, the Michigan State University and the Iowa State University.

“While there are many complex factors that influence food security and sustainable agriculture development, it is clear that education in agriculture plays an important role in preparing farmers, researchers, educators, extension staff and others to make productive contributions,” says Guntuku Dileepkumar, knowledge sharing and innovation coordinator for ICRISAT’s South-South Initiative.

“This is a consortium of agricultural education institutes, research organisations and other related agencies that work towards addressing challenges of global food security.”
 
Guntuku Dileepkumar, ICRISAT’s South-South Initiative

 
He adds that addressing the necessary changes and adaptations in agricultural education is critical today to ensure food security and sustainable agricultural production in developing countries, citing that the partnership hopes to support agriculture with the latest advancements in technology and knowledge flow strategies.

“This is a consortium of agricultural education institutes, research organisations and other related agencies that work towards addressing challenges of global food security,” says Dileepkumar, adding that it will focus on agricultural disciplines such as crop, livestock, fisheries and natural resource management.

The partners include Indian Council of Agricultural Research, the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), a consortium of 42 universities in 19 African countries that aims to build regional capacity in agriculture, the US Agency for International Development and CGIAR centres, according a statement that announced the partnership.

Rufaro Madakadze, AGRA’s programme officer for education and training, says that the partnership will bring to Africa modern curricula, new methods for teaching and learning, thus ensuring that the continent is not lagging behind in agricultural knowledge.

“The major benefit will be institutional capacity building, staff and student exchanges to strengthen research capacity and build stronger collaborative partnerships that leverage on each other’s strengths and maximize on use of available resources for agricultural development,” Madakadze tells SciDev.Net, adding that this would help revitalise African tertiary massive open online courses (MOOC)  agricultural education.

But according to Dileepkumar, the partnership could face challenges such as inadequate funding and institutional barriers to accept new ideas to change the paradigm for information flow through new educational technologies.

Dileepkumar says that the funding of the partnership will begin with co-investment with resources of the members of the consortium, especially through shared open access educational resources, including MOOC (massive open online courses)

Rose Nyikal, an agricultural economist from Kenya’s University of Nairobi, tells SciDev.Net that the partnership cannot be timelier.

“ICRISAT continues to provide a pillar around which universities anchor and train their generations for the much needed education crucial in addressing food security issues, especially in Africa,” Nyikal says.

This article has been produced by SciDev.Net's Sub-Saharan Africa desk.

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