The Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA), the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund) of Nigeria, and the Universidade Federal de Viçosa (UFV) hosted the First Agricultural Research and Innovation Fellowship for Africa- (ARIFA) Symposium, between April 28th and 29th, 2022 in the historic city of Viçosa, Brazil. The ARIFA Symposium brought together, for the first time, over 50 ARIFA fellows currently undergoing postgraduate training in different disciplines in six Brazilian universities. Also in attendance were six Faculty Focal Leads (FFLs) from TETFund Centers of Excellence (CEO), representatives of participating Brazilian universities, and Vice-Chancellors from Nigerian universities.
While declaring the event open in his intervention, the Chief Guest of Honor – His Excellency Prof. Mohammad Markarfi, Nigerian ambassador to Brazil, reiterated the Nigerian Government’s commitment to supporting initiatives that have improved their core of food and nutrition, which ARIFA encapsulates. Highlighting the agro-eco cultural intersections that present Brazil as a natural partner to Nigeria, the Ambassador encouraged the fellows to remain dedicated to pursuing their studies as they understudy the Brazilian cultural ethics within the context of the Science, Technology, and Innovation (STI).
In his welcome remarks, Professor Demetrius David da Silva, Rector of the Federal University of Viçosa, who was represented by Professor Raul Narciso C. Guedes -Dean of Post Graduate school, welcomed the ARIFA fellows and participants, expressing the commitment of UFV to continue to play a leadership role in the implementation of ARIFA in Brazil and the Global South as a whole.
While addressing the Symposium, Arc. Sonny S.T. Echono (FNIA), the Executive Secretary (ES) TETFund, lauded the concept of ARIFA, and the choice of Nigeria to lead the pack under the initiative as a model that can be scaled across the continent. He further expressed TETFund’s readiness to expand the program beyond the agriculture sector to other STEM-based disciplines, targeting at least 500 fellows in the next two years in Nigeria. The intended theory of change is that the infusion of six hundred fit-for-purpose fellows into the Nigeria academia would open up a fresh stream of capacities and twinning opportunities to build institutional capacities within the South-South Technical Collaboration context. The new stream from Brazil should provide fresh impetus to strengthen the pedagogic delivery of all participating public tertiary institutions in Nigeria.
While thanking all partners, particularly the UFV team that hosted the Symposium, the Executive Director (ED) of FARA, Dr. Yemi Akinbamijo, stated that ” Africans cannot continue to graduate thousands of agriculturists each year while food imports continue to riseIdentifying the Brazilian collaborative advantage as an attempt at a pedagogic retooling of the African academia one person at a time, he urged the fellows to continue to imbibe the culture of excellence as they form part of the success stories that can be replicated back home. He further expressed gratitude to the government of Brazil for lending a helping hand to Africa, through ARIFA, in the spirit of the south-south collaboration and shared cultural heritage.
ARIFA is a continental Initiative for Africa under the SSTC led by FARA, and currently implemented with funding support from the Government of Nigeria through the TEDFund, in partnership with Brazilian Universities