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Friday, January 27, 2023
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Research set to unlock agricultural productivity

Story by Peter Chivhima

INNOVATION and research have been identified as key towards increased agricultural productivity in Africa.

The annual general meeting for the Regional Universities Forum for Capacity Building in Agriculture (RUFORUM), which was officially opened in Harare this Wednesday, saw calls being amplified for Africa to unite and invest in research and innovation to unlock the full potential of the agriculture sector.

“In Africa we still rely on animal power for our agriculture purposes and due to this, the continent remains food insecure. The continent still imports food. We need to stand up as Africa. The agenda of agriculture in Africa is critical and it needs us to unite. Our universities need to play a leading role in promoting agriculture,” said Professor Abebe Haile Gabriel, FAO’s Assistant Director General and Regional Representative for Africa.

“Food security should remain a priority in Africa. Our governments need to support science and collaboration with universities so that we focus more on human capital development,” said Josephine Joseph Lagu,South Sudan’s Minister of Agriculture.

The Zimbabwean government views the 5.0 education philosophy as a game changer in the country’s efforts to industrialise and ensure food security.

“I want to thank our President for promoting the heritage based education 5.0 model. In the past we used to base on education 3.0 which focused on producing graduates who were good in theory but our President encouraged us to turn into education 5.0 which is producing graduates who are able to produce goods and services,” said Professor Amon Murwira, the Minister of Higher and Tertiary Education, Innovation, Science and Technology Development.

The forum was also attended by Vice President General Retired Dr Constantino Chiwenga who recognised the importance of the universities in driving industrialisation.

“Institutions of higher learning are leading from the front. Here in Zimbabwe we witnessed how universities played a critical role in fighting Covid-19 pandemic. Universities were on the forefront supplying PPE and this enabled the country to save a lot of money,” he said.

RUFORUM is a network of major African universities whose mandate is to strengthen the quality and relevance of postgraduate training and research in agriculture, science, technology and innovation through activities designed increase agricultural production.

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