The 3rd AFAAS Africa-Wide Agricultural Extension Week 2017 had a number of side events and a record breaking more than 700 delegates. The main theme was “Scaling up Climate Smart Agriculture (CSA): integrating youth, women, and the digital revolution”
AFAAS’s goal is to enhance utilization of improved knowledge and innovations for improving productivity oriented towards individual and national development objectives. This goal excites me because it shows AFAAS’s passion for Africa. AFAAS is aligned with Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) and therefore contributes to African Union’s goal of delivering average growth rate of 6% GDP. Within the current AU thrust for enhancing CAADP momentum based on the Malabo declaration of June 2014, the specific focus of AFAAS is on knowledge and knowledge support for enhancing the utilization and adoption of productivity-enhancing technologies, value-adding processes and loss-reducing practices in the value chains within which smallholder producers are embedded.
The field visits were very educative for me and the participants because it was a real reflection of what was being discussed during the side events in closed rooms. Seeing young men and women actively participate in farm management as in Karkloof dairy farm was so inspiring. Delegates were grouped into five and visited five different field sites. This left the delegates enriched with application of modern farming technologies that address a multitude of issues like climate change and nutrition. This is the kind of strategy that should be applied to meetings/conferences on agriculture because it gives participants an opportunity to appreciate real application of the information shared with them. According to Edgar Dale, participants learn more than 90% if you ‘make them do’ rather than only ‘taking to them about,,,’. I’m in no doubt some delegates are going to replicate the technologies the saw in the field.
Academia are a cornerstone when it comes to development of new technologies and innovations to tackle emerging issues in agricultural development in Africa. This is why it was encouraging seeing quite a number of delegates from academia making presentations about their research on agriculture. The meeting was attended by professors, students among others who made oral and poster presentations. Political leaders were also there to allow for dissemination of information and development of conducive policies that can enhance agricultural development. The farmers who were present would definitely appreciate new technologies and also share their real-life experiences and stories regarding agricultural production. The only way for Africa to develop into a world’s food basket is when all parties are included in the planning process of the important issues that need to be addressed at national, regional and continental levels and I commend AFAAS for providing such a platform.
It is great that AFAAS with SASAE were able to host sessions for the awarding of best extension workers in South Africa. This was quite an interesting event that other civil society organization dealing with agricultural extension in Africa should borrow a leaf from. The awarding of the extension works based on their performance at their attachment areas or farms motivated so many agricultural extension service practitioners. I’m in no doubt so many of them are now passionate about their work.
The signing of the declaration ended with AFAAS AGM where some new members like Tunisia joined AFAAS. This shows the great appreciation of the forum by different countries. I was impressed interacting with different people with different capacities during the AFAAS AGM. This was not only resourceful for young men like me but also motivational to take lead in agricultural development in Uganda.
Finally, I visited AFAAS stall where UFAAS board members held a planning meeting to discuss about the UFAAS AGM and annual agricultural workshop ahead of the agricultural extension conference dubbed ‘Revalorizing extension’ in Washington D.C.
All in all, AFAAS is making great strides in the transformation of agricultural development in the continent. The various events were very interesting and intellectually stimulating in adoption of new technologies for the agricultural development in Africa.