The Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA) and Universidade Federal de Viçosa (UFV) have initiated discussion on a strategy to build capacity of African youth in agribusiness and agricultural science using an innovation platform model known as Junior Business Group (JBUG), which is one of the programs coordinated by Centro Tecnológico de Desenvolvimento Regional de Viçosa (CenTev) (Technological Center for Regional Development of Viçosa). CenTev promotes interaction between academia, the public sector, private companies and society, leading to the development of leadership, entrepreneurial and managerial skills among students for the development of the city of Viçosa.
The discussion took place at the office of the Vice Chancellor of UFV, Professor Nilda de Fatima Ferreira Soares, when FARA’s Executive Director, Dr Yemi Akinbamijo visited her on 7th of May 2018. The partnership between FARA and UFV has evolved, having started in Des Moines, Iowa at the margins of the World Food Prize event of 2017. Since then, the two institutions took a decision to support the bold vision of the combining the power of Brazilian technologies and experiences with potentials of Africa’s huge natural and human resources to contribute in the transformation of Africa’s Agriculture under a win-win situation.
Crafted within the South-South collaboration framework, the FARA-UFV partnership will be domesticated under a new program dubbed Holistic Empowerment for Livelihood Program (HELP). The objective of the Program is to strengthen human and institutional capacities for Agricultural Research for Development (AR4D) in Africa, through various activities including the training of young Africans in Agric-based Brazilian Universities and Research Institutions at postgraduate level as well modular training in public and private centers of excellence. The UFV has emerged to be Brazil’s referral institution and Centre of Excellence in Agriculture with more than half of EMBRAPA scientists being UFV Alumni. With world class knowledge pool of faculty and facilities and an increasing foray in international agricultural education, UFV demonstrates interest in opening opportunities to support systematic and institutional capacity development initiatives of Africa.
In this context, FARA and the UFV staff are developing a HELP component using JUGS designed to creature solutions around 45 value chains. FARA-UFV JUBG concept to offer modular trainings and mentorship to young Agripreneurs from different African universities to develop entrepreneurial skills around different agricultural value chains for livelihood and empowerment.
As discussions on modalities of the program move one, it is expected that the training activities commence by early 2019 in preparation for Africa Agricultural Science Week, when significant mileage in the program would have been covered.