RUFORUM’s new crowd-funding campaign for postgraduates

The Regional Universities Forum for Capacity Building in Agriculture, RUFORUM, has launched an ambitious crowd-funding campaign to raise money to train more postgraduate students over the next five years.

The campaign, to be run through the forum’s web platforms and social media as well as specialised fund-raising events, hopes to raise more than US$5 million by 2020 to train at least 150 master of science graduates from disadvantaged backgrounds across the continent.

Under the theme “Sponsor a student, sustain Africa’s agriculture”, RUFORUM hopes to scale up its efforts to increase postgraduate training, which have seen some 1,200 masters and 200 PhD students trained over the past 10 years in fields of agriculture in the 22 African countries that host universities collaborating with the forum, based in Uganda’s capital Kampala.

In a press statement last month, the organisation urged people to donate to the fund, which it said would have a huge impact on creating new technologies to boost productivity and profitability in Africa’s smallholder agriculture sector, which supports more than 150 million livelihoods.

“RUFORUM invites the general public to contribute generously to this noble cause to raise funds for training a critical mass of African graduates with strong commitment to developing innovations that reduce poverty and make Africa food-secure,” said programme officer Joan Apio.

To bridge the gender gap in expertise, Apio said, special consideration would be given to women while choosing beneficiaries for postgraduate study, in order to boost their numbers in the all-important sector. Out of the 1,400 postgraduates trained so far by RUFORUM, around 600 have been women.

Founded in 2004 by universities in Uganda and Kenya, RUFORUM has witnessed rapid growth in membership and programmes, with the number of affiliated universities currently standing at 55 from 22 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa.

The initiative has managed to attract substantial resources from international donors.