Whereas the grant facility was earmarked primarily towards training of Masers students from six African countries in plant breeding, MUK’s Director of research and graduate training David Okello lauded AGRA for supporting renovation of the farm school.
Okello said: “AGRA is a unique development partner. When other partners give you money for example research, it is strictly for that cause and never anything else. But they (AGRA) have provided funds for research, refurbishment of classrooms, labs, as well as paying staff salaries on top of the curriculum review exercise.”
AGRA is a dynamic African – led Partnership working across the African continent to help millions of small scale farmers and their families lift themselves out of poverty and hunger.
According to AGRA’s program officer, Rufaro Madakadze, the programme is an integral part of a continental agenda pursuing “a uniquely African green revolution that will transform African agriculture into a highly productive, efficient, competitive and sustainable system that assures food security and lifts millions out of poverty.”
Rufaro told The Sunrise that the training program was developed in 2008 by the regional Universities forum for capacity building in Africa (RUFORUM) in response to the critical need for well trained plant breeders in the East African region with primary continuing support provided by AGRA.
AGRA has since supported 52 students from its target countries of Ethiopia, Kenya, Mozambique, Rwanda, South Sudan and Uganda.
But this time round, only three lucky leading African universities of Kwazulu Natal in South Africa, Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana and Makerere University have been selected to host a the program which Rufaro says has a practical hands-on approach tailored to train students with active linkages to both national breeding programs and seed companies.
The program is expected to impart skills in classical breeding and data management among others while increasing exposure to modern cultivar development approaches through internships with leading seed companies with a view to spur the growth of an emerging African seed industry and make public sector breeding more effective in delivering improved varieties.
Dr. Richard Edema, a senior lecturer and molecular plant virologist who is coordinating the program, told The Sunrise that the program has so far 30 resident students coming from a wide range of African countries including among others, Kenya, Benini, Rwanda, Tanzania, South Sudan.