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Higher education players must collaborate to enable science, technology and innovation to drive and direct the transformation of agri-food systems in Africa. This was the central message of FAO at the 18th Annual Meeting of the Regional Universities Forum for Capacity Building in Agriculture (RUFORUM), held in Harare on 12-16 December 2022. More than 1,300 delegates and stakeholders in higher agricultural education across the continent Ministers, development partners, university leaders, students, private sector leaders, farmers and young innovators gathered to discuss the achievements, opportunities and challenges in strengthening agri-food systems in Africa.

“The collective perspectives shared at this forum should inspire the formulation and implementation of home-grown, agriculture-led, knowledge-based economic development initiatives,” said His Excellency Emmerson Mnangagwa, President of the Republic of Zimbabwe.

The delegates reaffirmed that agriculture will drive economic development on the continent and that universities have a key role to play in spreading science, technology and innovation.

“The agri-food systems agenda must be jointly owned, by making it the centerpiece of the work we all do,” said Abebe Haile Gabriel, FAO Assistant Director-General and Regional Representative for Africa, in a keynote address at the opening ceremony. . He stressed the importance of science, innovation and investment that must drive the transformation of agri-food systems and the pivotal roles that universities must play in this process.

“We must do all we can to strengthen agri-food systems in Africa to ensure we can feed our people and support our economic development,” said Professor Adebala Ekwamu, Executive Secretary of the RUFORUM Foundation. He called on all African governments to work with African universities to develop scientific solutions for Africa and strengthen the agricultural value chain while promoting inclusiveness.

FAO also contributed to the 18th RUFORUM Assembly by sharing its approach to capacity development and e-learning methodologies, introducing online resources and tools including the FAO e-Learning Academy, AGORA, and the latest publications in Transforming Agri-Food Systems In Africa.

FAO continues to strengthen the capacities of member countries to be better prepared to address global challenges and make progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in collaboration and partnership with academia, research institutions, partners and other stakeholders.


FAO and RUFORUM formalized their partnership through a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in 2017 and continue to collaborate to develop the capacities of RUFORUM member institutions across the continent, which currently has 163 universities operating in 40 African countries as of December 2022, to improve food. Security and Nutrition in Africa. The collaboration focuses on knowledge sharing and experience sharing, developing institutional capacities and technical competencies of RUFORUM member universities, engaging the academic and research community in evidence-based policy processes, and advocacy and awareness-raising among African youth.

At this year’s RUFORUM AGM, FAO’s Abebe Haile-Gabriel receives an award recognizing these outstanding contributions to Africa’s development throughout his career, his efforts to ensure the integration of higher education into agricultural development in Africa, and the mobilization and alignment of development support for strengthening agri-food systems. In Africa.

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of the FAO Regional Office for Africa.

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