African agriculture on a journey of transformation

24 November, 2014 by (comments)

On 16 October, which coincidentally was World Food Day, Julius Byamukama, product manager of a food-processing company in Uganda’s southwestern Kabale District, travelled to the nation’s capital, Kampala, to put the finishing touches on an application for government certification of a new line of tasty and nutritious products. Once granted, this will open the door to national markets, greatly boosting demand for the products and the local sorghum used to make them. With increased demand, farmers and others working in the sorghum value chain will gain new opportunities to raise their incomes and strengthen their capacities.


Jeniffer Twebase and Julius Byamukama.

Many of these people, including Julius, are linked with the Bubaare Innovation Platform Multipurpose Cooperative Society, Ltd. In just a few years, the innovation platform’s membership has grown to more than a thousand, 70% of whom are women, including its manager, Jeniffer Twebase, who also serves in local government as the district’s agricultural production and marketing officer.

The group’s journey to success was made possible by the CGIAR Sub-Saharan Africa Challenge Program, which is led by the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA) and supported by the European Union through the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD). With the aim of testing an approach called “integrated agricultural research for development” or IAR4D, the program operates in three sites across Africa, with a different sub-regional organization coordinating the work in each one. In the Lake Kivu Pilot Learning Site – which encompasses the work of Julius, Jeniffer, and many others – the Association for Strengthening Agricultural Research in Eastern and Central Africa (ASARECA) designated CIAT to coordinate the effort on its behalf in collaboration with more than two dozen partner organizations in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Rwanda, and Uganda.

Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA) website.

The results of their collective effort are being presented in the last week of November at meetings organized by FARA in Johannesburg, South Africa. Marking the Forum’s 15th anniversary, the meetings will focus on “science-led agricultural transformation.” Work in the Lake Kivu site has already been extensively documented in a recent FARA book and a special 2013 issue of the African Journal of Agricultural and Resource Economics. During the FARA meetings, CIAT will also share the stories of Julius Byamukama and several other individuals contributing to the work in a document titled Building a people paradigm.

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Filed Under: Africa @en, Agro-ecology and Economics @en, Regions