Climate Smart Agriculture and Biodiversity Conservation (Climate-SABC) progresses

 

Countries in the Eastern and Southern African region, which also possess a wealth of biodiversity, have experienced severe weather variability, crop failure and recurrent famine throughout their histories. To tackle the problems that arise as a result of climate change and the resultant droughts, floods, land degradation, losses of crop and biodiversity, famine, malnutrition and poverty, there is a need for greater awareness on managing the natural resources. These countries need a new integrated approach for advancement of improved technologies and good practices to manage crops and livestock, as well as the soil, land and ecological resources of the region.

Enhanced human capital is central to the development of much-needed, locally relevant scientific knowledge and technology to tackle major development challenges in African agriculture. Thus, investment in post-graduate education generates highly skilled human power for serving academic and research institutions as well as within the civil service and policy making institutions. In this connection, within the framework of African Center of Excellence II program, Haramaya University had proposed “African Center of Excellence for Climate Smart Agriculture and Biodiversity Conservation” to World Health Organization (WHO) and has won the grant to develop a postgraduate program concerning this particular issue. ‘Climate smart agriculture’ can be defined as innovative production systems that integrate crop and livestock genetic improvement with management practices that increase productivity in a changing climate, while enhancing the socio-economic and environmental sustainability of the agricultural landscape and the natural resource system ecology in the Eastern and Southern African region. It specifically embodies soil and nutrient management, water capture and use, pest and disease control, resilient ecosystem, genetic resources, integration of livestock-crop production, harvesting, processing, and supply chains.

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After the August 2016 in-house workshop held in Haramaya University (HU), progresses have been made. Implementation plan has been finalized, national steering committee has been formed, financial agreement and disbursement letter have been signed and audit report for the program has been cleared.

The center of excellence will be hosted by the College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences, of Haramaya University, which runs 12 Bachelor’s program, 25 Master’s programs, and 13 PhD programs in agriculture and allied fields.

The objective of the Centre of Excellence will be to produce skilled human capital through research-based quality post-graduate programs and short-term, skill-based training courses. The plan is the Project plans to upgrade the teaching and research facilities, support development and implementation of appropriate curricula and research programs through an integrated and holistic approach with HU partners from other universities in the Eastern and Southern African region and other parts of the world. At the Centre, Masters and PhD level training will be provided and applied research will be conducted focusing on generating climate smart agricultural technologies, intensifying agriculture, promoting and enhancing practices of climate smart agriculture, and exploring sustainable conservation and utilization of biodiversity.

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A doctoral (PhD) program to be offered under the auspices of the Climate Smart Agriculture and Biodiversity Conservation will have four sub-specializations (Crop Sciences, Livestock Sciences, Soil and Water Science, and Policy, Institution and Innovation Studies). Five MSc programs will be offered, with two new ones (Climate Smart Agriculture, and Biodiversity and Ecosystem Management) and three existing regional ones (Agrometeorology and Natural Risk Management, Agricultural Information and Communication Management, and Collaborative Master’s Program in Agricultural and Applied Economics).

In addition, short term training programs will be conducted targeting various stakeholders and partners, including technical staff, students, and faculties from regional, international, and national partners aimed at enhancing their knowledge and skills in climate smart agriculture and biodiversity conservation.

Research will be focused on priority areas (crop, livestock, soil and water, and policy, institution and innovation; agricultural information and communication, natural risk management, biodiversity and ecosystem management, agricultural and applied economics). In summary, the project is aimed at producing skilled human capital to tackle challenges posed by climate change through quality post-graduate education and research at HU in partnership with universities across the Eastern and Southern African Region as well as with other institutions of higher education in the other parts of the world.

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The Centre of Excellence is expected to enroll and graduate a total of 30 PhD students and 80 MSc students at the end of the project year, 2021.Partnerships with Jimma, Mekelle, Bahir Dar. Bule Hora, Oda Bultum universities and Ethiopian Institute of Agricultural Research (EIAR), Oromia Agricultural Research Institution (OARI), and from the private sector with Oromia Seed Enterprise, Oda Bultum Farmers’ Cooperative Union, Harar Brewery, Dire Dawa National Cement Factory, Hamaressa Edible Oil Share Company nationally; Makerere, Sokeine, Lilongwe universities and Regional Universities Forum for Capacity Building in Agriculture (RUFORUM), Association for Strengthening Agricultural Research in Eastern and Central Africa (ASARECA) regionally; and Purdue University, Wageningen University and Research Center (WUR); Kansas State University, Oklahoma State University, Technical University of Denmark, Copenhagen University International Center for Agricultural Research in Dry Land Areas (ICARDA), International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), International Water Management Institute (IWMI), internationally are expected.

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