Within the context of the Agricultural Research and Innovation Fellowship for Africa (ARIFA) programme, the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA), as the Secretariat of this programme, convened the 10th ARIFA Steering Committee (SC10) meeting on 21st February 2023 at the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund) premises in Abuja, Nigeria.
The meeting was convened to review the progress made since the programme commenced in 2021, review the financial reports, endorse the workplan for 2023 and to map out the strategic direction for the programme beyond 2023.
FARA is the current Chair of the Committee. The FARA team was led by Executive Director (ED) Dr. Yemi Akinbamijo, who was received by Arc. U. Wogu. Director, Executive Secretary’s Office) representing the Executive Secretary (ES) of TETFund, Arc Sunny Echono. Other senior members of the Fund present at the meeting were Barr Abubakar Adamu, Director Academic Staff Training and Development (ASTD) and his team, as well as staff from the Directorate Research & Development and Centers of Excellence. Joining online were from Brazil, Professor Vladimir Iorio of Federal University of Viçosa (UFV), representing both UFV and the Brazilian Association of International Education (FAUBAI), who updated the meeting on the status of students currently in Brazil under phase I of the program. Also joining online was Prof Ana Isabel Ribeiro from Universidade de Lisboa ((ULisboa) Portugal, who provided an update on the offers available to ARIFA from ULisboa.
From the first cohort of fellows (ARIFA I), 14 of the 120 fellows have graduated, with more than 40 of expected to finalize by the first half of the current year.
The progress report points out that following the ARIFA symposium held in Viçosa, Brazil, in April 2022, TETFund undertook to expand the ARIFA program in Nigeria by increasing the number of fellows by an additional 500 covering M.Sc., PhD, postdoctoral and sabbatical trainings and expanding knowledge areas beyond agriculture to other STEM-based disciplines. It was reported that an online portal had been developed where 895 nominees have so far been granted access, of which 646 have filled their placement forms and uploaded their credentials for different categories of the fellowship – PhD (231); post-doctoral fellows (212), MSc (156), Bench work fellows (47). These are composed of 509 male applicants and 137 female applicants, with 181 below 35 years of age while 465 are above 35.
Key decisions during the meeting are as follows:
- Endorsement of the ARIFA phase II workplan, under which 500 Nigerian scholars are being screened for Postdoc, PhD Sandwich, PhD, and MSc positions in over 40 Brazilian universities. FAUBAI has offered 346 MSc, 84 sandwich, 263 PhD and 507 Postdoc positions to ARIFA fellows.
- Endorsement of ULisboa as a member of the ARIFA Partnership Platform (APP). ULisbon is offering 46 MSc, 49 PhD, 38 Postdoc and 81 regional mobility positions.
- Reaffirmation of the Unique value proposition of ARIFA, namely that fit for purpose graduates are trained and equipped to apply knowledge and skills to resolve local problems and harness opportunities through enterprise within the context of African agricultural research for development, contributing to the attainment of CAADP Goals.
- FARA should continue to pursue strategic alignments to scale the Nigerian model of ARIFA in the Republic of Liberia, Ghana, South Africa, Kenya, and the COMESA regional bloc.
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