The Regional Universities Forum for Capacity Building in Agriculture (RUFORUM), established by ten Vice Chancellors in 2004, is a consortium of 157 African universities operating within 40 countries spanning the African continent. RUFORUM is coordinated by a Secretariat hosted by Makerere University in Kampala, Uganda. The organisation evolved from its predecessor, the Forum on Agricultural Resource Husbandry (FORUM) program of the Rockefeller Foundation. RUFORUM is registered as an International Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) and has mandate to oversee graduate training. In July, 2014, RUFORUM signed a cooperation agreement with the African Union to support the implementation of the new African Union for Science, Technology and Innovation Strategy for Africa, 2024 (STISA 2024).
RUFORUM supports universities to address the important and largely unfulfilled role that universities play in contributing to the well‐being of small‐scale farmers and economic development of countries throughout the sub‐ Saharan Africa region. The consortium has several unique features for building Africa’s innovation capacity and for engaging universities in development process and practice;
- It is owned and managed by Africans;
- It derives its agenda largely from the continent wide policy frameworks especially of the African Union‐New Partnership for African Development (NEPAD) Comprehensive African Agricultural Development Programme (CAADP), The African Union Science, Technology Innovation Strategy for Africa (STISA 2024); The African Union Policy Framework on Revitalising Higher Education in Africa; the Sub regional Multi–Country Agricultural Productivity Programmes; The National Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers (PRSPs) of the member States and Governments and constant review of global trends and foresight planning to ensure Africa has the required capacity for global competitiveness;
- It allows for joint action by the member universities. This is enhanced through joint faculty appointment for the 60 universities, payment of local fees by graduate students and national mechanisms (National Forums) which ensure wide stakeholder participation in the RUFORUM programmes; and,
- The consortium provides a wide array of training opportunities for stakeholders, and is in the process of establishing credit transfer mechanisms among the member universities.
Why RUFORUM Exists
- Realize economies of scope and scale trhrough academic exchanges including fostering region centers of excellence to train the next generation of agricultural scientists.
- Provide an effective platform for University support to smallholder farmers through likages with national agricultural research systems, the private sector and rutal communities.
- To champion national and regional policies to support efective postgraduate agricultural training and research.
The RUFORUM ethos is framed in terms of the following values and principles:
- Inclusiveness – by promoting both a balance in the gender of researchers (faculty, student and partner agencies) and in the inclusion of a gender perspective in the project proposals;
- Social responsibility – by promoting links with, and understanding of, conditions in rural areas and to expose students and faculty to the rewards of service through the projects supported;
- Long term change – through a focus on systemic change and capacity building;
- Sustainability - through awareness of the environmental impact of the proposed research
- Diversity – by recognising and valuing differences and similarities in perspectives, by ensuring an appropriate balance between generic and disciplinary approaches to problem solving;
- Creativity – by providing faculty and students with opportunities to develop innovative solutions both in addressing the problems faced by smallholder farmers, and in managing research projects in remote areas;
- Collaboration – through the multi-agency teams encouraged through the CARP and to a lesser extent the GRG. Through these teams RUFORUM is dedicated to the emergence of pro-active networks and better communication which is further consolidated through the establishment of a National Forum;
- Excellence – through an independent selection of the best proposals and a mentoring and monitoring system to ensure quality in its programs and awards, through encouraging such systems in all member faculties, and through building the reputation of the research and networking that emerges from the CGS;
- Equity – by investing in the member institutions which are under-represented in grant awards so that they may compete effectively in the future;
- Enhanced human capital - by encouraging timely graduation and commitment to serving African development