A key aspect of FoodAfrica has been capacity building at different levels. This has meant inviting different stakeholders in different roles to take part in various types of capacity building activities, from farmer trainings to advanced PhD work. Lately, also the data itself collected in FoodAfrica has raised a lot of interest. Students at the University of Makerere in Uganda were trained by FoodAfrica researchers on value chain and market information making use of the data.
FoodAfrica WP6 has mostly worked with local farmers, providing them with information on market prices, weather alerts and extension information, through the intervention implemented as part of the randomized control trial (RCT). As a result of the RCT a large amount of data on market information of Ugandan farming household now exists. In addition to the analysis FoodAfrica has done, this data could potentially be used as secondary data by a number of students interested in learning about and analyzing markets in Uganda. WP6 therefore liaised with the University of Makerere in Kampala to organize a training course on value chains and market information, using the RCT data as a case study.
The training was organized in early October as a three day course. 35 students, mostly master level, were selected from a high number of applicants with the excellent support of our local coordinators, Alice Turinawe and Rosemary Isoto from Makerere University. FoodAfrica researcher, Senior Research Fellow Nick Minot from IFPRI was responsible for the overall training, with support from colleagues from Natural Resources Institute Finland (Luke) on specific issues. Senior Specialist and FoodAfrica coordinator Mila Sell focused on gender in value chain analysis and Research Professor Jarkko Niemi on impact evaluation methods.
A successful training is a base for future collaboration with African universities
The students were interested in the subject and very active both in the lectures and group work sessions. In groups they chose an issue or a commodity and designed a potential project, taking into consideration all aspects of the value chain. After the gender lecture they continued group work wearing their “gender glasses”. For analyzing markets a number of Excel exercises were held. For the analysis of the actual market information data from Uganda, Stata software was used. Many of the students had recently started using Stata, so getting new input on its use, including a number of commands, was very useful.
– The feedback from students was very positive, although it was generally agreed that three days was too short a time for the topics covered. We realize the training was just a drop in the ocean, but our hope is that it will at least have given the participants some basic skills and ideas on which to build. The good experience and collaboration with the University of Makerere will certainly be a base on which future collaboration can be built, both for trainings and for developing joint project proposals, Mila Sell says.
A similar study has also been conducted within FoodAfrica in Ghana. Therefore, a training will be organized also in collaboration with the University of Ghana in Accra.
– We will make use of the lessons learned in Uganda and compile a course with slightly less topics, and a lot of time for practical group work and exercises, Mila Sell says.