innovation

UniBRAIN: The first ever full-fledged agribusiness incubator officially launched in Mali

The Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA) teamed up with its UniBRAIN partners to establish the West African Agri-Business Resource Incubator (WAARI).
WAARI was officially inaugurated on 23rd January 2014 in Selingue  province of Mali by Prof Moustapha Dicko, Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research, Government of Mali, in the presence of Dr William Dar, ICRISAT director-general.
WAARI is one of the six agribusiness incubators being established under the Universities, Business and Research in Agricultural Innovation (UniBRAIN) project of FARA, with the Agri-Business Incubation (ABI) program of ICRISAT’s Agribusiness and Innovation Platform (AIP) as the handholding and mentoring partner. The Danish International Development Agency
(DANIDA) is financially supporting this initiative in Africa.FARA –UniBRAIN is supporting other incubators in Africa. Some of the incubators are located in the following countries: Ghana, on Creating Competitive Livestock Entrepreneurs in Agribusiness Consortium (CCLEAr); Kenya, on Sorghum Value-Chain Development Consortium (SVCDC); in Uganda, on Afri Banana Product (ABP) Limited and on Consortium for Enhancing University Responsiveness to Agribusiness Development (CURAD); and in Zambia, on Agribusiness Incubation Trust (AgBIT).

FARA’s partners in UniBRAIN are the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) based in India, the Centre for Coordination of Agricultural Research and Development for Southern Africa (CCARDESA), in Botswana, the West and Central African Council for Agricultural Research and Development (CORAF/WECARD), in Senegal, the Association for strengthening Agricultural Research in Eastern and Central Africa (ASARECA), the African Network for Agriculture, Agroforestry and Natural Resources Education (ANAFE), in Kenya, and the Pan African Agribusiness and Agro Industry Consortium (PanAAC), in Kenya.

UniBRAIN pioneers a new approach to promoting agricultural innovation and improving tertiary agribusiness education in Africa.
The UniBRAIN initiative promotes innovation by improving the flow of technology and knowledge by removing barriers between actors in the value chains. It is the synergy and linkage between the diverse actors that catalyzes and drives innovations. UniBRAIN links university education, research and business in sustainable agriculture, with the following objectives:
1. To develop and implement collaborative programmes fostering innovation among universities, research institutions and the private sector.
2. To strengthen African agricultural innovation systems, which are expected to deliver the new and improved technologies that are required to improve agricultural productivity
3. To develop and implement improved and better contextualized undergraduate and postgraduate agribusiness teaching and learning.
4. To facilitate exchange of experiences and sharing of resources and knowledge.

The UniBRAIN Agribusiness Innovation Incubators function as training, research and advisory centres for small and medium enterprises (SMEs), start-ups and enterprises undertaking change and innovation. They are also businesses in their own right providing problem solving, testing and validation, and business development services to innovators and agribusinesses. UniBRAIN promotes a value chain approach so that the incubators will be able to support innovations to address constraints and opportunities at any point in the value chain. As such, the term private enterprise encompasses entrepreneurs and innovators across the board, including but not limited to farmers and producers associations, input suppliers and produce buyers, processors and marketers.

One of the key results of UniBRAIN model is the establishment of African Agribusiness Incubator Network(AAIN).The African Agribusiness Incubator network (AAIN) is recognized to establish knowledge systems for validation or affirmation that inform advocacy, sharing of experiences and networking in order to contribute to  the development of Agribusiness incubation in Africa.AAIN aims to work together as an African family of Agribusiness incubators bringing together incubator leaders, managers, and partnership with both state and non-state actors at continental level, to have the potential of providing Africa a strong policy platform that can engage globally with other incubators and organizations for mutual benefit.

More about UniBRAIN

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ICT for Agriculture – International Conference, November 4-8, 2013 in Kigali, Rwanda

#ICT4AG Conference kicks off tommorrow

African Perspectives

ict4agHow are ICT services boosting agricultural value chains? How can we establish a dynamic and enabling environment where ICTs for agriculture can flourish? Starting tomorrow on November 4 to 8, topics such as ICTs and value chains, advocacy and policy development will be discussed in Kigali, Rwanda, thereby assessing the impact of ICTs on farming, fisheries and livestock. 

Find all video reports at ict4ag.org/video-reports.

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FAMILY FARMING – a means to Promote Youth’s Involvement in Agriculture and Agribusiness

Andres Solari, his father and me, Olawale Ojo during Solari’s farm visit, during the GCARD2, Punta Del Este, Uruguay.

Among the many highlights of my participation at the Second Global Conference on Agricultural Research for Development (GCARD2)  with the theme FORESIGHT AND PARTNERSHIP FOR INNOVATION AND IMPACT ON SMALL-HOLDER LIVELIHOODS at Punta del Este, Uruguay on 29th October to November 1, 2012, one experience that I would not forget very quickly was the visit to the Solari Family Farm in MonteVideo Rural in Uruguay.

Andres Solari a youth and one of the children of Mr. Solari gave a tour of the farm. The seventeen (17) hectares farm was been cared for and operated by the Solari family. These included Andres, his brother and sister, his parents and regular assistance from three of their cousins.

The farm grows peaches, apples, nectars and oranges. The processing section which is right there on the farm produces wines, jam and juice.

Touching was the fact that Andres and his siblings judiciously joined their parents in the daily running and operation of the farm business. “My mother started this farm in 1998” he said while giving a tour of the farm and sharing the history of the farm. The sister and mother handles the marketing and sales aspect of the  farm while Andres, his brother and father work on the farm itself with the support of their cousins and hired labour when necessary.

A showcase of one of the main themes of the conference itself which is PARTNERSHIP was dislayed by the Solari’s family farm. The farm works hand in hand with the National Agricultural Institute and the Department of Agronomy in the University of Uruguay. One aspect of the partnership is the reduction of the use of pesticide by provision of biological pest control at reduced cost. This partnership makes it possible for the products of the farm fit for export and allows for sustainability of the farm and environment. These factors : active involvement of the family members in the business, partnership with research bodies and cooperatives have made high productivity possible for the Solari family farm and these has bagged them so many awards such as the Sociedad Uruguay Dehortifruiticulun Award in 2005, LATU Sistemas in 2006 and right during the visit an Award of Recognition by INIA (the National Agricultural Institute).

The commercialization of their products through retailers, supermarket and joining other growers makes exporting possible for them. As a matter of fact, as at the time of the visit the mother was away in Italy to attend the Slow Food Fair which is one of the so many international fair the farm attends to expand their market base.

The example of Andres is one that African youths and families can learn from. So if you have parents that have farms: are you joining them to make it a sustainable business enterprise? Do you share your professional skills either as an accountant, HR manager, engineer and so on to improve the activities on the farm thus increasing profitability? Taking a clue from the example of Andres and his family can go a long way to elevate poverty in families both in Nigeria and Africa as a whole.

First Published on YPARD

”I Left Nigeria Once, I will Leave Again”

Gathering Woods for Ramial CHIPS Production at the Songhai Centre

“I Left Nigeria Once, I will Leave Again” – Many might wonder what I am talking about. But before I tell you where I left for and why, let me give you a brief background on my journey into Agriculture. As a young boy, I grew up around computers. From an early age I could handily clone, with my own hands and with no help, a desktop computer courtesy of learning from my father. Little wonder then, that I wanted to study to be an Electrical and Electronics Engineer. But as life would have it, I got admitted into the University to study Agricultural Engineering instead (A full 5 years of agriculture).

The first two years of my curriculum was very holistic in nature. I had to do course work on all the sciences, maths, biology, chemistry, English etc, it was so difficult to see or feel the agriculture in all we were doing. However, third year came along and I began to a get a glimpse of the picture. Course works even though more of theoretical knowledge was becoming interesting and agriculturally inclined. By virtue of my interactions with some of my lecturers, I began to see that there was a lot of work and opportunities in Agriculture. I must say my interest was sparked. By the beginning of my second semester of the third year, I had picked special interest in Biogas production and agro processing. Thus with so much determination I started scouting for a place I could learn both within and outside my country.

Leaving Nigeria

It did not take long before I stumbled upon the Songhai Centre for Production, Research, Training and Development in Sustainable Livelihoods situated in Porto-Novo, Benin Republic a neighbouring country to Nigeria. Thus in my second semester of my forth year, while my colleagues were in the banks, oil companies and doing all sort of jobs to cover for the six month internship duration. I left for Benin Republic to learn. My stay at the Songhai Centre turned out to be for me not just a learning ground about Biogas but a whole lot. I got a taste of farming, research, rural development, food processing/packaging and the sales of farm produce in it various form. I was opportune also to work side by side with over 200 young people with different dreams and aspiration about ensuring food security in their various countries. I also for the first time practiced some of the theoretical knowledge I had. It was indeed an experience.

Bach Home

After the six months, I came back to my country and university for my final year. And I just could not wait to practice and share the knowledge and skills I had acquired abroad as it were. Till date, I have engaged in advocacy and capacity building with youth, letting them know that agribusiness is that tool that would transform the face of agriculture in Nigeria and that only when they key themselves in now can they make impact. I have worked with older farmers through the farmers association and helped out in some of their project. Through social media I have shared knowledge and information on the things I have learnt overtime. Presently, I also teach high school student agricultural science as part of my voluntary one year service to my country under the National Youth Service Corp (NYSC) Scheme and after that I am going to leave Nigeria again.

Leaving again

I want to study and learn more, pursue my graduate studies in Food Security and Rural Development. I want to be equipped to help both young and old engage in the best, innovative and sustainable agricultural methods and practices. Sad to say I cannot get this in my country. Remember my five years in the university was mostly theory. I need more exposure and innovative knowledge that would stand the test of time and solve the problems Nigeria and Sub- Saharan Africa has in terms of food insecurity. But I am definitely going to be back. The future is bright and can only get brighter when young men and women in Nigeria and Africa are ready to be the hands and forces of change against poverty and hunger.

In the next five to ten years and even now, Nigeria and Africa would need young professionals who not only have gone through the university wall but who are knowledgeable about practical and sustainable means to ensure food security. And YES I want to be one of those young professional and for me to effectively achieve this I would leave to learn, leave to research, leave to network and partner and YES I would come back home to Nigeria and to Africa to support change.

As the 2013 International Youth Day gets near with the theme, ‘Youth Migration: Moving Development Forward’. I have migrated once and would do so again soon to indeed move development forward.

Give us a breather!

The message at the FARA-led “Africa side-event” held on the 28th October 2012 at GCARD2 was about Catalyzing Innovations and Entrepreneurship for Agricultural Research and Development”

Increasingly organizations engaged in ARD are calling for greater focus on innovations and the innovations systems approach to increasing agricultural productivity, food security and economic growth. As the world focus is shifting towards innovations, so also is it focusing on entrepreneurship as a tool for promoting agricultural innovations. Initiatives that have however risen for global, regional and national discussions have hitherto failed to integrate the role of the youth as promoters of innovations and entrepreneurship.

Speaking at the event, the Executive Director of FARA and Chairman of GFAR, Prof. Monty Jones, reiterated the need for stakeholders in ARD such as ASARECA, AFAAS, RUFORUM, PAFFO, NASRO, CCARDESA, CORAF/WECARD, RUFORUM, ANAFE, CTA, CGIAR and PANGOC amongst others to work together towards achieving the common goal of agricultural transformation by aligning their efforts to the AU-NEPAD’s CAADP framework. He also agreed that currently Africa faces the challenge of aging farmers and aging scientist in agriculture.

For the youth to be engaged in agriculture, incentives need to be created to ensure that they find agriculture a lucrative and sustainable livelihood. This demands a shift in mindset and will require conceited effort at the continental, sub-regional, national and local government levels.

As the GCARD2 plenary sessions commences, we hope that youth engagement in agriculture will take center stage.

Blog post by Olawale OJO and Idowu EjereImage

The message at the FARA-led “Africa side-event” held on the 28th October 2012 at GCARD2 was about Catalyzing Innovations and Entrepreneurship for Agricultural Research and Development”

Increasingly organizations engaged in ARD are calling for greater focus on innovations and the innovations systems approach to increasing agricultural productivity, food security and economic growth. As the world focus is shifting towards innovations, so also is it focusing on entrepreneurship as a tool for promoting agricultural innovations. Initiatives that have however risen for global, regional and national discussions have hitherto failed to integrate the role of the youth as promoters of innovations and entrepreneurship.

Speaking at the event, the Executive Director of FARA and Chairman of GFAR, Prof. Monty Jones, reiterated the need for stakeholders in ARD such as ASARECA, AFAAS, RUFORUM, PAFFO, NASRO, CCARDESA, CORAF/WECARD, ANAFE, CTA, CGIAR and PANGOC amongst others to work together towards achieving the common goal of agricultural transformation by aligning their efforts to the AU-NEPAD’s CAADP framework. He also agreed that currently Africa faces the challenge of aging farmers and aging scientist in agriculture.

For the youth to be engaged in agriculture, incentives need to be created to ensure that they find agriculture a lucrative and sustainable livelihood. This demands a shift in mindset and will require conceited effort at the continental, sub-regional, national and local government levels.

As the GCARD2 plenary sessions commences, we hope that youth engagement in agriculture will take center stage.

Blog post by Olawale OJO and Idowu Ejere