Harnessing Research to Intensify Agricultural Outputs

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The Australia Awards short course on Increasing Development Impact of Agricultural Research opened on Monday 2 September, in Nairobi. Jonathan Ball, Australia’s Deputy High Commissioner to Kenya, officially launched the course.

In his address, Jonathan called on the participants to use their knowledge and skills to influence decision makers, to cut down challenges that stifle the development of farming. ‘Research work is fantastic! However, there’s significant bureaucracy that does not encourage new strains of seeds or ideas. As you go through the course, you will explore solutions on how we can improve agricultural outputs, well-being of farmers and food security in Africa. Part of your challenge is to convince farmers and those that have a say in how agriculture is done in your countries, on new technologies and trends that are worth trying’ he said.

The course facilitator Prof Robyn McConchie reiterated the need to address the increasing challenges facing the agricultural sector to eradicate poverty. ‘Despite significant investments in financial and technical support, we have not seen huge increases in agricultural productivity. Agricultural growth is too slow and yield increases are marginal. Our job within the next four weeks is to develop ways to turn agriculture into a wealth creator for the rural poor. Especially women who lack technical skills but are the key providers of agricultural outputs.’

Through the course, Mesfin Dejene Ejigu, a Senior Researcher with the Ethiopian Institute of Agricultural Research hopes to gain skills and knowledge to help him ‘effectively undertake high-impact agricultural research in Ethiopia.’

Dr Adekemi Shokalu, a Chief Research Officer at the National Horticultural Research Institute in Nigeria expects to ‘conduct demand-driven and results-oriented research for better outputs.’ He also hopes to learn how to facilitate multi-stakeholder processes as he usually works with different groups of people.

The course brings together 25 participants from across 14 African countries including Cameroon, Comoros, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Madagascar, Malawi, Mozambique, Nigeria, Somalia, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda and Zimbabwe. Notably, 52 per cent of the participants in the course are women.

The course is facilitated by the University of Sydney in partnership with the University of Nairobi.  Other leading agricultural institutions lending expertise in the delivery of the course include Kenya Agricultural Livestock Research Organisation, International centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology, and Soil Cares amongst others.

Picture: Jonathan Ball, Australia’s Deputy High Commissioner to Kenya interacts with participants at the IDIAR short course.

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