Reverse Engineering for SDGs

Dr. Kakoli Ghosh, Strategic Program on
Sustainable Agriculture Management Team, FAO Ms. Loreta
, Partnerships Officer, Division of
Partnerships, FAO

By Kakoli Ghosh and Loreta Zdanovaite
ROME, Feb 20 2019 (IPS)

When young people from small towns and villages seek higher
education they have to usually migrate to big cities leaving their
local communities behind. On completion of their degree from the
Universities, they generally prefer staying in cities, in search of
a good job and a successful career. Though this is a standard
practice, it is also a case of lost opportunities, especially for
students who pursue higher education in agriculture. Here is

Mobilizing local farmers in for sustainable practices for common
bean production, Uganda

Agriculture covers a range of subjects from agronomy and dairy
science to plant and animal health–and for many small -holder
farmers and producers, there is a tremendous need for infusion of
new knowledge and innovations to upgrade farming practices to
improve income and livelihoods. However, there is usually a lack of
availability of such support for them in a timely manner. At the
same time, all Master’s level students studying agricultural
sciences have to conduct research and prepare their dissertations
on topical issues as part of their courses. Could it be possible to
incentivise students to return to their communities for some time
to look at local agriculture problems with fresh eyes and share
their new knowledge? Can such reverse engineering accelerate
problem solving at a local level and spur innovations? What would
entice young people and their local community to create such
knowledge linkages?

An small initiative was carried-out with the partner
RUFORUM1 to try this out to strengthen linkages
between academic knowledge and its ground-based applications. The
goal was to promote youth support for SDG2- End hunger, achieve
food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable
agriculture. Graduate students from African agriculture
universities were offered a six-month Community-Based Field
Attachment2 to share their knowledge and research
experience with rural communities and receive feedback from
communities on their specific research areas. The expectation was
that such an interaction would provide graduate students an
opportunity to a) link academic work with experience of rural
community, b) increase practical skills to apply research findings
in development-related field projects as well as c) provide local
agencies, farmers groups and organizations with the specialized
knowledge that can generate innovative solutions to improve rural

Demonstrating vaccination of New Castle Disease vaccine for
chickens, Uganda

There was a high response from students, however, based on
available resources five each of male and female graduate students
from RUFORUM member universities from Benin, Uganda, Kenya and
Lesotho were selected for implementing their field projects (Table
1). During their stay with the rural communities, those students
interacted with local farmers, village institutions and community
elders to discuss and share their knowledge and work together to
develop locally- based solutions. With the guidance of their
professors as mentors, they reached out to a range of local
stakeholders including farmers, agricultural traders, farmer
associations, community health institutions, veterinary and
extension services and rural community leaders to disseminate their
research and also learn from them. They organized interactive
workshops and trainings, made open-air presentations and hosted
radio shows to increase outreach and share experiences. (Box 1).
All participants provided regular reports of their progress to the
RUFORUM Secretariat, who provided the necessary monitoring of the

This limited exercise has provided us with some interesting
insights. It is clear that there is a genuine interest among youth
to contribute to their local communities. The various topics of
their projects on child nutrition, crop production and animal
health among others, addressed a pertinent need in that community.
The interactions allowed them to link their theoretical knowledge
with practice on the ground. Both local communities and academic
institutions expressed willingness to undertake more of such
knowledge-exchange partnerships as it was a win-win. In future,
perhaps such experiences could help universities to design
short-term courses to address local issues and nurture innovations.
If such initiatives were at scale and sponsored by local
institutions, they might also encourage return of educated youth to
agriculture in Africa and beyond. That would surely accelerate the
implementation of Sustainable Development Goals.

Table 1. Student projects for Community-Based Field
Attachments in Africa

1 The Regional Universities Forum for Capacity
Building in Agriculture (RUFORUM) is a network of 105 universities
in 37 countries in Africa,
2 Special Call for Applications: Ten RUFORUM
Community-Based Field Attachment Programme Awards

The post Reverse
Engineering for SDGs
appeared first on Inter Press Service.


Dr. Kakoli Ghosh, Strategic Program on
Sustainable Agriculture Management Team, FAO
Ms. Loreta Zdanovaite, Partnerships Officer,
Division of Partnerships, FAO

The post Reverse
Engineering for SDGs
appeared first on Inter Press Service.

Source: FS – All – Ecology – News
Reverse Engineering for SDGs