CMAAE Program Executive Committee (PEC) in Place

 

The CMAAE Program Executive Committee has been established. The committee comprises of members drawn from various organizations. The members are Harris Mule (Chancellor, Kenyatta University, Chair-PEC), William Lyakurwa (Executive Director, African Economic Research Consortium-AERC), Rajul Pandya-Lorch (International Food Policy Research Institute-IFPRI), Constance Freeman (Regional Director,

 International Development Research Centre-IDRC), Akin Adesina (Associate Director, Food Security Program, Rockefeller Foundation-RF), Josue Dione (Economic Commission on Africa-ECA), Isaac Minde (International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics-ICRISAT), Bernard Bashaasha (Chair, Agricultural Economics Education Board-AEEB, Ex-official), Willis Oluoch-Kosura (Program Director, Ex-official).

 

Inaugural Program Executive Committee (PEC) Meeting

 

The first meeting of the newly formed PEC was held on February 2nd 2006 at the Intercontinental Hotel, Nairobi, Kenya. The meeting discussed the progress of the implementation process of CMAAE program which started in September 2005, amongst many other issues. The PEC members were also briefed on the evolution of CMAAE since the planning stages of the program to the current stage of implementation.

 

It was observed that CMAAE has taken off commendably and in the right direction. However, there needs to be more resource mobilization from donors and well-wishers to relax the financial constraints coupled with the rising demand of Agricultural Economics training in Africa. In the first year of implementation alone, the program received a total of 202 applicants in the five accredited universities, out of whom 93 students were admissible. A number of students have deferred their studies due to inability to raise the required fees at the accredited universities. The program management is aggressively looking for donors to offer scholarships to deserving students.

Preparations for the Shared Facility

 

CMAAE program will offer students the opportunity to undertake specialized study in one of the following fields: Agriculture and Rural Development; Agricultural Policy and Trade; Agribusiness Management; and Environment and Natural Resource Management. The specialization courses will be offered at a shared facility in the University of Pretoria. A common course on Institutional and Behavioral Economics as well as two electives from a menu of courses will also be offered for each field of specialization.

The shared facility will start in late July and is expected to end in late November. Preparations are currently at an advanced stage. Advertisement for visiting lectureship at shared facility was widely circulated through the internet, media and participating departments between December 2005 and March 2006. Many applications were received by the Secretariat making the competition very stiff. The recruitment process of the lectures for the facility is now complete.

 

 Advertisement for 2006 Admission

 

The second intake of CMAAE students is scheduled for September 2006 and the advertisement for applications was placed in the program website www.agriculturaleconomics.net. The advertisement was also placed on the regional papers by the accredited departments. Potential students were requested to submit their applications not later than May 15th 2006. Applications were to be made to the accredited universities namely: Egerton University; Makerere University; University of Pretoria; University of Zimbabwe; and University of Nairobi. More information could be obtained from the program website given above as wells as directly from the accredited departments.

 

African Agriculture on Focus

Technology–Policy Gap and its Impact on Application of Animal Biotechnology in Sub- Saharan African Countries

Biotechnology Application in Animal Agriculture

It has been argued that conventional technologies are no longer able to provide sufficient levels of ever-increasing needs for food, fibre and better agricultural environment hence the need for application of agro-biotechnology. Agricultural biotechnologies have been developed as tools/techniques to boost productivity. Due to their ownership by private corporations, their usage has mainly been in developed nations with most farmers in Africa continuing to rely on conventional (or traditional) technologies.

 

Biotechnology refers to the scientific application of techniques that uses living organisms or substances from them for making/modifying products or improving plants/animals, or for developing microorganisms for serving specific purposes. The main components employed in biotechnology are genomics, bioinformatics, transformation, molecular breeding, diagnostics and vaccine technology and some of them involve the manipulation of organism’s DNA components. Modern biotechnology techniques and processes are applied for purposes of improving the production potential of plants and animals. Cell and tissue cultures are the commonly used techniques in Africa with genetic engineering being yet to gain profound utilisation due to regulations surrounding its application although there have been efforts to produce animal vaccines using the technology both in Kenya and Zimbabwe.

 

Globally, the major breakthroughs of biotechnology in the livestock sub-sector have been in the generation of techniques for disease diagnosis and manipulation of selected germsplasm for traits such as production, adaptation and improved feed digestibility. This has led to techniques such as artificial insemination and embryo transfer as integral part of the animal husbandry practices for many years. Recent applications of DNA engineering techniques target the development of new improved methods of diagnostics and vaccine production, animal breeding and improved nutrition through modification of microbes to improve rumen functions, and in reproductive physiology. However, low annual rate of genetic progress, lack of ways to separate the desirable from undesirable traits of breeding, and the impossibility of transferring

genetic information across species has hindered some of the intended achievements. It is hoped that with advancing biotechnologies and novel molecular genetics tools, some of these challenges will be overcome.

 

 

In sub-Saharan Africa, the application of these technologies at farm level has not been realized. Studies on agricultural innovations show that effective adoption at the farmer and aggregate levels is influenced by several factors. These include: the educational process that extension practitioners use to equip individuals with the knowledge and skills necessary to use an innovation; supply (institutional process of technology generation and promotion) and demand (reasons for using a technology) of technological innovations; relative advantage and compatibility that determine the immediate and long-term economic benefits from using an innovation; access to credit and output prices; complexity, trialability, and observability that indicate the ease with which the potential adopter will learn and use the innovation; nature of farming environment (agro-climatic conditions, nature of prevailing farming systems, degree of commercialization and factor availability); land tenure systems; farm sizes; farmer characteristics; time lag required before getting returns/benefits from adopting the technology; management to maintain the technology working at farm level; initial capital investment; and social factors.

Conclusion and the way forward

 

Although Africa can derive numerous benefits from adopting livestock biotechnologies, there are various areas that require effective policy intervention in order to create an enabling environment for the adoption of developed livestock biotechnologies. Efforts should be directed to ensuring existence of effective institutions and policy frameworks relating to appropriate marketing systems, infrastructure, training, extension, credit systems, biosafety regulations, and land rights among others as a way of promoting biotechnology application at smallholder level for increased productivity and profitability. Globally, addressing issues of intellectual property rights, bio safety regulations and rules, fair trade, and effective and open communication between researchers, policymakers and technology users would be required.

 

From Oluoch-Kosura, W. 2005. Technology – Policy Gap and Impact on Application of Animal Biotechnology in Sub-Saharan African Countries. Paper for the All Africa Conference on Animal Agriculture, Arusha, Tanzania.

News from Participating Departments

University of Pretoria

 

The University of Pretoria received a total of 22 applications for the CMAAE program but only 7 were registered. The low number of registrations is partly related to inability of students to raise fees for the program at the University as required. The program kicked off in the first week of February 2006 and students will complete the first semester by mid June. They will then join the students from the other universities at the shared facility on the UP campus. Arrangements for the shared facility are virtually completed and the department looks forward to welcome everybody on the campus in Pretoria

Egerton University

 

The CMAAE program is currently running smoothly and the students are expected to finish their second semester in July. The students will then join others from the region at the shared facility scheduled at the University of Pretoria. Currently, the program has eight (8) students, three (3) of whom are female and five (5) are male. One student is from Malawi, while the rest are all from Kenya.

University of Nairobi

 

The department originally admitted fifteen (15) students in the program but one student deferred studies in the middle of the course reducing the number to fourteen (14). All the students are from Kenya. The 14 who are in the middle of coursework are expected to finish their second semester in July, after which they will proceed for the shared facility in Pretoria. The students are also developing their research concept notes with assistance from lecturers. Proposals are expected to be completed by the time the students come from the shared facility.

University of Zimbabwe

 

Fourteen (14) students were admitted into the CMAAE program in September 2005. All the students were from Zimbabwe. However, due to financial problems, three (3) students dropped off leaving eleven (11) continuing with the program. The students are expected to finish the first two semesters in time before joining the shared facility in late July.

Makerere University

 

The program is running well with the 2nd Semester expected to end on July 1st 2006, after which the students will proceed to the shared facility in UP. As a result of financial problems, the students’ numbers dropped significantly from the initial thirty five (35) to Seventeen (17). Thirty (30) students were from Uganda while five (5) were non-nationals. Of the current 17, only one non-national student is remaining in the program. Resource mobilization is therefore needed to assist deserving students fulfill their dreams of further education.

Academic Sub-committee Meeting

A meeting for the Academic Sub-committee was held on March 31st 2006 at the Hilton hotel, Nairobi, Kenya. The meeting which was chaired by Prof. Mark Odhiambo was called to address various issues including:  selection of lecturers for the shared facility scheduled for late July; pre-requisite courses and entry tests administration; accreditation of more departments to offer the program; quality assurance issues and other issues concerning preparations for the shared facility. The discussions were fruitful with a culmination of competitive selection of lecturers for the shared facility.

Accreditation Team Visits Bunda College, Malawi

The accreditation team, consisting of Prof. Mark Odhiambo, Prof. Anthony Panin and Dr. Bernard Bashaasha visited Bunda College, Malawi during the third week of April, 2006 for accreditation assessment. Bunda College had earlier applied for accreditation. The accreditation Report is awaited.

 

Competitive Research Grants Announcement

One of the main aims of the CMAAE program is to promote collaborative network amongst the many players in Agricultural Economics and related disciplines in Agriculture to undertake research to inform relevant policy. This year, the Secretariat called for research proposals from Academic staff of the participating departments of CMAAE to undertake country level analyses on the following themes: (1) The Impact of Drought in Sub-Saharan African Economies and Possible Drought Mitigation Measures (2) Achieving Market Competitiveness for Agricultural Production in Sub-Saharan Economies. Heads of Departments were requested to send the research proposals to the program Secretariat by April 30th 2006. Successful applicants will be notified by beginning of June, 2006

Appointment of Director for CMAAE Program

 

The Position of the Program Director for CMAAE was advertised in the Economist by the search agency Deloitte Consulting Ltd. The Recruitment process was completed by the end of March 2006 and Prof. Willis Oluoch-Kosura was selected as the Program Director. The AAEEN family congratulates Willis on this appointment and wishes him well as he undertakes his duties.

 
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