This is a regional program for students from Central, Eastern, and Southern Africa. It is taught at Makerere University in Uganda. Investing in plant breeding is a matter of urgency because of the diverse needs of the Africa’s farming community and persistent poverty and food insecurity. Recent surveys by the Forum for Agriculture Research in Africa (FARA) and the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) as well National Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers all advocate for increased development and use of science and technology to address the continent’s persistent hunger and poverty. Similarly, the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and others have conducted studies which all point to the very limited capacity in terms of high level trained plant breeders especially in sub-Saharan Africa. This has led to limited variety releases and general weakened innovations systems yet these are critical for enhancing productivity to address food insecurity and livelihood issues. Africa’s human resources suffer from severe attrition due to socio-economic reasons and diseases such as HIV/AIDS. Indeed, rebuilding the continents’ human resources may require investment levels similar to what China, South-east Asia and the emerging economies of Brazil and Argentina undertook to strengthen innovations systems for agricultural sector expansion and science-led growth of their economies. Thus the design of the PhD programme took into account experiences from other countries, especially Brazil, where significant science and technological innovation progress has been achieved through the tri-partite linkage amongst universities, research institutions and the private sector. The design also took into account the widespread capacity gap in the region and the fact that isolated cases of expertise exist across the region which could be harnessed to produce a quality graduate programme. Scooping visits were also made to Europe, South Africa and USA to learn about institutional arrangements for delivery of quality PhD programmes, leading to adoption of strong course based PhD training that involves engagement with other leading experts in the training. The design benchmarked the PhD Programme with PhD programmes at Swedish Agricultural University and Stellenbosch University in South Africa. It also established a Regional Academic Advisory Board and partnership with the Uganda National Agricultural Research Organisation and the CGIAR centres operating in the region. Additionally the programme built on lessons from the AGRA supported University of KwaZulu Natal Plant Breeding Programme and identified training of especially university staff at PhD level as its niche (as opposed to the AGRA focus on building capacity for research institutions). To take advantage of the experience and expertise of the KwaZulu Natal PhD programme, the programme has engaged faculty from KwaZulu Natal in teaching delivery.
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