The FARA Essay Competition was introduced in line with a series of celebratory events hosted in November 2014 by FARA to appreciate the efforts of forum members in strengthening African agricultural innovation.
Students of agriculture programmes in African tertiary institutions were given a chance to win $1,000 and a trip to South Africa by writing a 500-word essay titled ‘The Role of Agricultural Innovation in Creating Food Security in Africa’. (A representative of the winning student’s school will also be sponsored to go to South Africa). The competition commenced on October 9, 2014 and ended on the 30th.
Essays were submitted by over 200 students from 41 institutions across Africa:
University of Benin; University of Ngaoundere; Makerere University; University of Ibadan; University of Ghana; Ekiti State University; Université Assane Seck de Ziguinchor; University of Nairobi; Institut Supérieur des Sciences Environnementales; Gulu University; Federal University of Agriculture Abeokuta; University of Pretoria; Université Gaston Berger de Saint-Louis; Kenyatta University; Obafemi Awolowo University; International Fertilizers Development Center; Istitut Technique Superieur; University of Mauritius; University of Rwanda; Université d’Abomey-Calavi; University of Dschang; Rwanda University College of Agriculture, Animal Science and Veterinary Medicine; Dedan Kimathi University of Technology; Midlands State University; Federal University of Technology, Akure (FUTA); University of Zimbabwe; University of Eastern Finland/Forestry Research Institute; Ardhi University; Ladoke Akintola University of Technology; University of Ilorin; Ahmadu Bello University; Nnamdi Azikiwe University; Enugu State University of Science and Technology; Sokoine University of Agriculture; University of Port-Harcourt; University of Nigeria, NSUKKA; Arab Academy For Science and Technology and Maritime Transport; University of Zambia; Botswana College of Agriculture; Arab Academy for Science and Technology and Maritime Transport and Egerton University. Countries represented are: Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Senegal, Rwanda, South Africa, Benin, Cameroon, Burundi, Uganda, Mauritius, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Tanzania and Egypt.
297 essays were received via the FARA Facebook page and 11,983 votes were cast in three weeks of public voting. The ten essays with the most votes were shortlisted. Experts at the FARA Secretariat reviewed each essay and a final winner was announced on November 7, 2014.
The winning essay is :
Name: David Gitaumwangi
Department and School: Food Bioresources Technology; Dedan Kimathi University of Technology (DeKUT)
The issue of food insecurity in Africa is not and cannot be solved by one factor. The whole society has to join hands grouped into government, large and small scale farmers and educational institutions to pull together and shut in unison this calamity. The higher the degree of harmonizing this groups we achieve the easier and faster we solve it. Let us therefore think big, start small and start now.
Other shortlisted essays are :
Name: Yesashimwe Nehemie
Department and School: Forestry and Nature Conservation; University of Rwanda-College of Agriculture, Animal Sciences and Veterinary Medicine
Youth innovators, those who are aware of this fast- advancing world, are the feeders of Africa in future. Our parents have tried, but they aren’t really able to go further in changing the status of food insecurity. Although we avoid staying on farms, technology can make us go there!
Name: Ani Isaac Ugochukwu
Department and School: Agricultural and Bioresource Engineering; Enugu State University of Science and Technology
Innovation as defined by Merriam-Webster Dictionary is ‘the act or process of introducing new ideas, devices or methods’. To create food security in Africa, existing agricultural methods needs to be modified and new polices, technologies, designs, devices and methods introduced into the system so as to affect the desired change.
Name: Dominique Xavio Imbabazi
Department and School: College of Agriculture, Animal Sciences and Veterinary Medicine
Country: University of Rwanda
In Africa, agricultural innovation is showing the potential in creating food security. Improving harvesting skills to reduce field loss, introduction of good storing infrastructures can increase the quantity. In addition climatic change control agricultural extension sensitization and proper use of fertilizers will be the key to food security.
Name: Naomi Nzisa Kyalo
Department and School: Agricultural Economics and Agribusiness Management; Egerton University
Food security is a point of concern for the world at large. In Africa the case is no different. With most of the population living in adverse poverty, access to safe and healthy food is just but a dream. It is this state that has pushed stakeholders in the agriculture value chain to come out and find lasting solutions. Market information has been identified as a critical point in spearheading the campaign for a food secure Africa. For a while now research has focused solely on production and therefore farmers produce good quality, up to standard produce but lack avenues to trade. It is with this in mind that innovations on market information were developed.
These innovations not only seek to provide farmers and stakeholders with essential information but also empower the farmer to trade and compete at both regional and global markets as we cannot ignore the fact that agriculture is the engine for economical development in Africa. Use of ICT`s for instance has enabled farmers to access information on market prices, market patterns as well as weather patterns to enable them to make informed decisions. In addition e- agriculture has given farmers the opportunity to trade in the foreign market and make an income therefore act as an incentive. The major challenge we face is most of these innovations require a certain level of education background and technological expertise yet most of the rural farmers are illiterate. This makes it difficult for these innovations to adopted and be beneficial. This dilemma calls for the government to support the private sector and NGO`S through offering public education programmes. It is evident that if these innovations are to be used and adopted all stakeholders in the public and private sector have to play a role and work together.
Name: Olalekan Sipasi
Department and School: Animal Science; University of Ibadan
The sustenance, growth, development and productivity of man depends on what he eats. In order to meet the requirement of the ever increasing population of Africa, of course there should be a commensurate increase in food production, among which livestock and its products is germane.
The people who have achieved, who have become large, strong, vigorous people, who have reduced their infant mortality, who have the best trades in the world, who have an appreciation of art, literature, and music, who are progressive in science and in every activity of the human intellect, are the people who have used liberal amounts of milk and its products (E.V. McCollum)
Name: Atuheire Brian
Department and School: Botany Department; Makerere University
Food security in Africa has remained unattainable and this has been the case for years. However Africa has got many resources that can be turned into tools to fight this food deficit, but this could be only if Africa changes its ways in agricultural production that mainly depends on the natural conditions and therefore new methods should be enhanced such as agricultural innovation and as such we could have a food secure Africa. Having better innovations such as using modern methods of farming, irrigation, using pesticides and fertilizers could actually solve this huge problem
Name: Guimbang Babette Abanda
Department and School: Faculty of Biological Sciences; University of Ngaoundere
Africa’s productivity of its livestock has not yet reached its full capacity, mainly due to prevalent infectious diseases. Selecting animals with a high degree of resistance would be valuable for breeding campaigns. Modern innovations in science enable us to screen for those animals by genetic biomarkers.
Name: Shola Olumodeji
Department and School: Department of Animal Science; University of Benin
Food security is rising to the centre of global discourse and existing evidence points to that, it has become an issue of national policy as well as public concern. This essay explores the role of proven agricultural innovations that has resulted in overcoming the food security challenges facing Africa.
Name: Salihu Ruth
Department and School: Department of Biological Science; Ahmadu Bello University
If agricultural experts will stay on the farm, everyone with new ideas help to contribute to secure food for Africa, Africa will not only have food but will feed the world. Knowledge-intensive agriculture will be a plus to the young and agile farming age, if we all take up our responsibilities.