Five farmers and two agricultural scientists have been recognised by Regional Universities Forum for Capacity Building in Agriculture (Ruforum) for their outstanding contributions to agriculture.
They were recognised during a meeting of ruforum in Kigali, last week.
According to Levi Nyagura, the Ruforum chairperson, the organisation is determined to take agriculture to the next level to improve livelihood in the country.
“These awards are to encourage other farmers and agriculture researchers to put more effort in the work they do, universities too have a role to play in targeting government projects to support the local communities in our countries,” Nyagura said.
Consolee Twambazimana, one of the recipients, is a potato farmer who popularised best practices in potato pests and disease control, and potato seed production in Kirehe District.
“I am so excited about the award and the money (Rwf500,000), this is a good motivation. I will not put my hoe down, I am very proud of it because it really pays off,” Twambazimana said.
The Prime Minister, Pierre Damien Habumuremyi, appreciated Ruforum’s contribution to the country’s agriculture development.
The organisation has trained more than 20 young Rwandans in agricultural sciences, at a cost of $520,000 (about Rwf340 million).
“I particularly thank Ruforum for having taken a bold step to reach out (to other players) and promote a broad agenda that is not only promoting the ivory-tower syndrome but views actors that are not engaged in the academia as partners in development,” Habumuremyi said.
Desire Kagabo, one of the awarded researchers and an official at Rwanda Agricultural Board, said the award steers the momentum for research in the country.
His paper was selected because it dealt with soil conservation technologies that are commonly used by the majority of smallholder farmers in Rwanda.
During the meeting, Ruforum also launched a book, Dirty hands, Fine Minds: The story of an Agricultural Research and Training Network in African Universities.
The goal of Ruforum is to see a vibrant agricultural sector linked to African universities which can produce high performing graduates and high-quality research responsive to the demands of Africa’s farmers for innovations and able to generate sustainable livelihoods and national economic development.
It also strives to strengthen the capacities of Universities to foster innovations responsive to demands of small holder farmers through the training of high quality researchers, the output of impact oriented research, and the maintenance of collaborative working relations among researchers, farmers, national agricultural research institutions and governments.