TETFund Partners FARA to Boost Agric Research, Others
By Elegbede Abiodun
The Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund) has partnered the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA), to establish and launch Agricultural Research and Innovation Fellowship for Africa (ARIFA) innovation platform in Nigeria.
ARIFA is aimed at producing a new generation of fit-for-purpose workforce to re-engineer the African agri-food sector to provide the change factor for rapid agricultural transformation in the next 10 years.
In the first phase of ARIFA, TETFund identified six institutions for the establishment of IPs, namely: Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University, Bauchi; University of Benin; University of Lagos; Michael Okpara University of Agriculture, Umudike; University of Maiduguri; and University of Jos.
In his remarks at the event in Abuja, the Executive Secretary of TETFund, Sunny Echono, explained that the fund’s intervention in ARIFA will impact on faculties and departments across Nigeria’s tertiary institutions resulting in the delivery of science-led solutions for improved livelihoods while sustaining and advancing academic excellence.
He explained that TETFund has supported over 120 scholars nominated by beneficiary institutions, with most of the phase one nominees rounding off their programmes this year.He added that the pre-admission process of the second phase of the programme has since commenced, and TETFund remains committed to supporting another 500 sets of fellows.
According to him, TETFund recognised the ARIFA model as an innovative strategy for revitalising pedagogy that will strengthen the institutional capacities of Nigeria’s tertiary institutions and contribute to building the knowledge-based economy through its centres of excellence (CoE) across the country.
“As we celebrate the return of the first contingent of ARIFA Fellows, I would like to reiterate the commitment of the fund towards sustaining the momentum of the programme, especially as we begin to see the impact of injecting the new fellows into our educational sector, who will power the engines of TETFund ARIFA Innovation Platforms (TAIPS) across the country.
“As you all know, agriculture is a critical sector in Nigeria, and we must continue to invest in research and innovation to ensure sustainable growth and development. The ARIFA fellowship represents a strategic stride in this respect, and we are excited to have these highly trained fellows join us in this endeavour.
“The fellows will be applying their different expertise and knowledge in TAIPS, which will be invaluable as we work to improve the productivity and competitiveness of our agricultural industry.
“So, I urge you to make the best of this three-day training and ensure that you continue to be part of the innovation ecosystem that we all envision towards strengthening Nigeria’s educational and agri-food systems,” he stated.
The Executive Director for FARA, Dr. Yemi Akinbamijo, said the launch of the programme is the beginning of realization of ARIFA training in Brazil.
He added that the ARIFA fellows that returned from Brazil will be planted back to their institutions from where they took off to Brazil.
While stressing the importance of agricultureto the development of Africa, Akinbamijo stated that more than 80 per cent of the working population in the continent derive their livelihood from agriculture.“So as the concept of AR4D is that you don’t do agriculture because you have nothing to do it is AR4D,“ he said.
One of the beneficiaries of the training, Jennifer Nwaiwu said: “I want to use this opportunity to appreciate FARA and TETFund for sending me to Brazil. There I got a lot of experience and knowledge on better ways to do things and better ways to do research. I got to handle and use many improved technology to do agriculture and it is a very big opportunity and I’m very grateful.
“This kind of his training in career path is going to be very impactful because coming back from Brazil, we expect that the knowledge we’ve acquired we are going to be implementing them here in Nigeria, considering the fact that Brazil and Nigeria are similar climate wise.”