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Collaborative Masters Program in Agricultural and Applied Economics for Eastern, Central and Southern Africa

Bernard Bashaasha

No 9513, 2004 Inaugural Symposium, December 6-8, 2004, Nairobi, Kenya from African Association of Agricultural Economists (AAAE)

Abstract: Program Genesis: Since the 1970s, African economies have under-performed and incomes have declined. Similarly, the agricultural sectors have malfunctioned and agricultural production shrunk despite over two-thirds of the population being dependent on agriculture for survival subjecting them to food insecurity, reduced incomes, massive poverty, unemployment and unsustainable resource utilisation. The decline in agricultural performance was brought about by numerous factors, including markets dynamics that tended to protect the agricultural products of developed nations at the expense of developing economies; persistent institutional weakness and market failures in Africa; poor linkage of policy results to policy making and implementation; poor understanding of environmental impact assessment and management skills for sustainable agricultural development; poor understanding of smallholder agriculture; and inadequate appreciation or understanding of the role of Science, Technology and Information in promoting rapid agricultural and rural development as well as overall economic growth and development. In response to the above situation and the realisation of the changing trends in markets, there arose the need to re-examine ways and means of managing and promoting agricultural development, which forms the backbone of many African economies. It was visualised that one way of tackling the problem was through enhancing capacity for policy analysis in agriculture in order to allow effective generation and supply of relevant information on agricultural production and marketing to policymakers. IFPRI and its 2020 Vision for Food, Agriculture and Environment established a network of researchers in agricultural economics in Eastern Africa in an effort of enhancing the capacity in policy analysis and research. The Regional Advisory Committee (RAC) was established to guide the network in undertaking competitive research grants among other critical activities. After one year in operation, the RAC realised there was a great shortage of skilled manpower to undertake policy analysis research in the region and established a Steering Committee to examine the problem. With financial support from the Rockefeller Foundation, an inquiry by Norman and Obwona was conducted, which revealed there was inadequate capacity for agricultural policy analysis, formulation and implementation. This was blamed on inadequate Agricultural Economics postgraduate training scholarships to overseas universities in particular and limited Governments support for postgraduate training locally due to budgetary constraints. The Steering Committee suggested that a sustainable cost effective capacity building mechanism was seriously needed to help resolve problems that were being experienced in institutions of higher learning. To put the mechanism in place, a conference involving Heads of Departments of Agricultural Economics in Eastern and Southern Africa, and other participants from the private and public sectors was convened in November 2002 to examine the future challenges to agricultural economics. The conference adopted that the heads of agricultural economics departments should formulate plans for strengthening agricultural economics training in the region through a Collaborative program. After the conference, heads of departments formed the umbrella body AEEB and started working on the collaborative masters program. The vision of this collaborative program is to train graduates with a solid foundation in economic concepts and methods for applied analysis in the public, civil society and private sectors, as well as offer opportunity for advanced academic pursuits. The main objectives of the program are to: advance Agricultural Economics as a core disciplinary course at MSc level in Eastern & Southern Africa; produce graduates who are conversant with problems facing the agricultural sector in Africa and with the capability to provide practical solutions; set up a system for upgrading the teaching and research capacity of faculties in the participating departments; as well as enhance a collaborative network amongst the many players in agricultural economics.

Keywords: Teaching/Communication/Extension/Profession (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Pages: 5
Date: 2004
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DOI: 10.22004/ag.econ.9513

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