Agricultural higher education project calls for proposals

The Regional Universities Forum for Capacity Building in Agriculture (RUFORUM) in collaboration with the governments of Cameroon, Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Malawi and Mozambique and the World Bank have launched a call for proposals for a multimillion dollar higher education agriculture project intended to boost human resource capacity for the transformation of agriculture.

The Strengthening Higher Agricultural Education in Africa (SHAEA) initiative, which kicks off in June 2019, aims to grow a pool of “competent and relevant” human resources to accelerate agri-food systems transformation.

The project seeks to fill critical identified gaps in terms of knowledge and skills necessary for revitalising agriculture in the region, including in the fields of agribusiness and entrepreneurship, agri-food systems and nutrition, rural innovation and extension, risk management and climate change data, and policy analysis and management.

Universities from the six African countries which meet the eligibility criteria and are interested in becoming a Regional Anchor University (RAU) are invited to submit applications in partnership with tertiary education institutions, including post-secondary agricultural vocational institutions and key agricultural sector actors, both public and private.

RAUs will be picked through a competitive selection process and will provide agriculture and food related education and training, blended with cross-disciplinary approaches, including “experiential learning” and applied research.

The project will also try to foster university linkages with the agricultural sector at regional and national levels, and forge university partnerships with private and public entities in the agriculture sector, both within and outside Africa.

“The proposed SHAEA project will support the governments of the participating countries to collectively address challenges in these regional key gap areas, with interventions that include helping selected universities establish a strong culture of collaboration and partnership between higher education institutions, and other tertiary education institutions, with the agriculture sector”, according to an earlier statement.

The selected RAUs will become regional hubs for innovation and training and are expected to instigate “real” development impact; and help develop a culture of results-orientation and accountability in institutional management, through a “results-based financing mechanism,” it added.

An independent evaluation committee and the steering committee will be constituted to select universities that will act as RAUs.

The project will be governed by a regional steering committee that will include representatives of governments from participating countries, and will be managed by a regional facilitation unit based at RUFORUM headquarters in Kampala, Uganda.

Selection of universities will be based on criteria that will include the institutions being from one of the eligible countries, but which have International Development Association (IDA) funding availability.