partnership

The Role of Partnership in Agricultural Research for Development.

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To enhance agricultural development in Sub Sahara Africa and especially Nigeria where i come from a lot has to be put into research. Research will not only enhance productivity for farmers and processors , it will also aid in coming forth with best practices, more technologies and methodology to develop rural areas and meet their needs when it relates to their livelihood via agriculture.
Funds, infrastructure, work environment, human resource etc are all keep to producing quality research result especially through universities, NGOs, research centres and agencies. But aside theses Partnership is paramount to enhance research. This is especially true considering that we not live in a global village where we all face common problems and challenges ,besides the exchange of information among researchers is paramount in today’s world.
More often than not it has been discovered that researchers do not team up on issues. Many researchers have been found to be working on the same subject but do so at individual levels. Even institutions of learning have been found wanting in this regard where institutions in same country all work individually on the same research area instead of pooling resources and man power together.
It is however important that researchers learn the need for partnership. This is especially important for our next generation of researchers the youth. Young researchers have to come to the realization that by working with one other either at individual level or at institutional level they can achieve more than working sole. Partnership allows better and more production of result. It enables collective pursuit of individual goals or interest.
Another angle to the benefit of partnership is the fact that it helps parties derive individual benefits. For example, when researchers partner at institutional level it could result in benefit for both parties such as new equipments or even laboratories or workstation for participating institution.
Partnership also allows for pulling together a large bulk of resources that an individual researcher would have had to pay for. Partnership can lead to cooperation between governments; private businesses and the civil society making sustainable development possible as all relevant sectors have a share.
One can however say that the challenge faced is how to choose a partner. In an instance where no relationship existed between interested parties working together might be difficult. However, the sources available have lightened the task. For example, Google Scholar can be found useful in identifying potential partners and what research areas or topic they find appealing. Also professional networking website like Linkedin which is globally accepted can also be a good point to start with our search. Another method could be to look into past studies that are relevant to research topic one is working on and reach out to them. Attending conferences, workshop though sometimes expensive is a good way to meet in person. Researchers interact a lot at conferences and events thus it is a good avenue to foster relationships that will lead to collaborations in the near future.
In all an individual researcher has to show a readiness for partnership to be able to get one. Only collective efforts can get us moving and progressive in the fight against hunger, poverty and food insecurity.

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

WAYS NIGERIA UNIVERSITIES CAN OPTIMIZE THE STUDENT INDUSTRIAL WORKING EXPERIENCE SCHEME (SIWES) PROGRAM TO BOOST AGRICULTURAL RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT (ARD).

Today, I watched as students in their fourth year in my university (Federal University of Technology Akure, Nigeria) picked up their log books for the six month SIWES program. This is generated some thoughts in my head as it relates to the development and sustainability of agriculture among young people especially those studying courses related to agriculture.

The Student Industrial Working Experience Scheme (SIWES) was established by the Industrial Training Fund (ITF) in 1973 to solve the problem of adequate practical skill, preparatory for employment in industries by Nigerian Undergraduate and Diploma students of tertiary institutions. The scheme was designed for duration of six months for university undergraduates. During this period, every student is expected to acquire all necessary practical skill and orientation, as well as technical knowledge needed to adequately develop national man-power and human resources.

Based on these facts, I proffer the following suggestion to boost Agricultural Research and Development:

  1. Partnership With the Government: The universities can partner with the government by having an agreement with them that they would accept a certain number of students to intern with the Ministries of Agriculture, Ministries of Environment and Agricultural Research Bodies owned by the government. This would afford the students the opportunity to learn new things, practice what they have learnt over the years and get exposure. They could also engage in ongoing projects and be of help to the facilitators.
  2. Full Usage of University Farms and Research Centre: Oftentimes, universities have farms, the university could expand these farms and take in some students to work during the SIWES program. The farm can initiate various mini-project and research works under proper supervision that would engage the students, thus promoting skill acquisition and capacity building in ARD.
  3. Partnership with Privately Owned Agro-based Industry: Most times, student battle with getting placement in companies and industries to carry out their internship. Some even spend as much as three to four months out of the six months before getting a placement. Another set of students, even go ahead to work in places having little or no relation to their course of study. Considering these fact, the university can partner with industries and farms privately owned to take in the student during the SIWES program as part of their Corporate Social Responsibility.
  4. Payment of Monthly Stipend: In Nigeria, a stipend of about 100Dollars (15,000 Naira) is paid after the entire six months. Sadly, for the past four years it has not even been paid. Arrangement should be made to make sure it is paid and can also be reviewed that something is paid monthly rather than at the end of the whole program.
  5. Proper Documentation of Activities: The Universities should take in proper and well detailed reports of the student’s activities during the SIWES program. Their report can be a base for further research work or re-modeling of existing agricultural practices and research work.

The agricultural Sector in Nigeria can have sustainable development when young men and women coming out of the tertiary institutions have the required skills and knowledge to work with when they leave the four walls of the universities. If these suggestions can be implemented I believe there would be considerable advancement in Agricultural Research and Development.