Letter from the 2016-18 President of AAAPD
I would like to start by thanking you for your continued support and partnership with the Association of Agricultural Professionals in the Diaspora (AAAPD), since our official launch in 2008. It is your continued support and good partnership, coupled with a very devoted Board of Directors, that has ensured that our association continues to grow and experience success during the past 8 years, as we pursue our vision of "Transforming African smallholder agriculture through resource mobilization, intermediate technology intervention, information dissemination, and networking”. I am very honored to serve as the President for this new term starting Jan 2016.
The legacy of AAAPD began in 2006 when the Founding Board Members saw the need to form this association to act as a catalyst for agricultural development in Africa by tapping into the expertise of Africans in the diaspora. Our 1st President (2008-2011), Dr. Peter Jeranyama had a mammoth task to lead AAAPD from its inception to a point where we became known across Africa, USA, and Canada. Dr. Jeranyama is also a fulltime professor at Massachusetts University. Through his leadership we successfully received funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to get established, build our website (http://www.aaapd-africa.org/), and develop a database of African agricultural professionals based in the diaspora, capturing their areas of expertise which provide a resource for organizations/ institutes/private companies/individuals who access it for various purposes related to agricultural development in Africa. Currently, our database has over 2000 professional members with expertise ranging from Agronomy/Crop Sciences, Soil sciences, Animal sciences (Nutrition, Breeding, Health), Agricultural and Resource Economics/Policy, Agribusiness, and Biotechnology. These areas of expertise can be easily transferred to benefit Africa. Besides this, the association successfully engaged with various leading agricultural organizations and institutes based in Africa. This led to the establishment of partnerships and linkages between African diaspora and organizations such as RUFORUM, FARA, AU/NEPAD, AGRA, and several African Universities.
From 2012-15 we had our 2nd President (Prof Andrew Manu, Iowa State University) building the association further by expanding into Europe in 2012, where our new Branch was launched led by Dr. Linley Chiwona-Karltun based at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Uppsala, Sweden. In 2014, AAAPD and the sister branch in Europe hosted the first event in Sweden during the biennial Nordic Days Conference. With one of our main objectives of facilitating linkages between Western corporations/institutes/universities with similar African institutes and universities, we have successfully hosted several events at the World Food Prize conference held annually in Des Moines, Iowa, through the generous support of Monsanto Company, Iowa State University and Michigan State University. These events have provided a platform for various leaders from Africa (Dr. Strive Masiyiwa-AGRA; Dr. Makinde-UN/NEPAD; Dr. Lindiwe M. Sibanda-FANRPAN; Prof M. Rukuni-WALA etc.) to engage directly with potential partners in the US agricultural industry that included executives from private sector companies, donor community (Gates Foundation, USAID), and leaders from various US Universities. In Canada, AAAPD has continued to facilitate linkages and collaboration between African and Canadian institutions in a number of themes supported by the International Development Research Centre (IDRC, Ottawa) through various calls for proposals. In this regard, AAAPD has worked with RUFORUM to expedite these partnerships in response to IDRC initiatives, thereby continuing to support our shared goals for capacity building in Africa. In addition, several of our Board members have jointly developed curriculum with our partners in Africa for agricultural courses to be offered at African Universities, as well as facilitated study abroad programs for agricultural students at Iowa State University to study for one semester in Ghana and South Africa. Board members also participated in a NEPAD initiative to develop the African Agricultural Education and Skills Improvement Framework (AESIF).
As our association continues to grow, it has become even more important for us to strengthen the partnerships and linkages that we developed over the past 8 years. In this regard, I would like to recognize and appreciate the contributions and strong leadership of my two predecessors. Although we are currently experiencing a downward trend in the agricultural industry, with company mergers and cutbacks in the private sector, and reduced donor funding opportunities for development work, I would like to borrow a quote from Aristotle Onassis, “It is during our darkest moments that we must focus to see the light”. The light for Africa is its bountiful youth. Much of the future employment for the youth of Africa will be related to agriculture, farming and agribusiness. During my term as president of AAAPD, I would like to encourage all our members, partners, and friends to stay focused on strengthening our efforts to promote agricultural development in Africa because this has the greatest potential to ensure that the world can produce enough food to feed the rapidly growing population that will reach 10 billion by year 2050. Africa has the capacity to help feed the world, if we can stay focused on transferring the best technologies available to enable African farmers to maximize crop and livestock productivity.
We ask you all to join us and help to make 2016 -18 a great time period for;
- African farmers to benefit more from the various advanced agricultural technologies available today,
- African women farmers to be equipped with the skills, technologies and enabling environment to reap the financial rewards for their hard work in agriculture, while ensuring food security,
- Providing quality training and skills development for African youths on agri-prenuership covering production, processing, value addition, and marketing that will ensure that our African youth view farming as a profitable business and,
- Supporting more graduate students taking Masters and PhDs programs in Agricultural subjects (Agronomy, Biotechnology, Plant Breeding, Animal Breeding, Animal Nutrition, Agribusiness, etc.). This will involve facilitating enrollment and funding of African students at Universities in US, Canada and Europe where our AAAPD members can help as mentors and supervisors.
Please feel free to reach-out to me with any ideas/suggestions as I welcome your input. My contact email address is: firstname.lastname@example.org. We also invite you to visit our website regularly, for updates and opportunity information for you and the continent of Africa.
Dr Dianah Rumbidzai Ngonyama, PhD
Dr. Daniel Karanja (AAAPD Vice President, and Executive Director of the Partnership to Eradicate Poverty & Hunger in Africa, Washington D.C.)
Dr. Peter Jeranyama (AAAPD Director for Africa Outreach, and Professor at Massachusetts University)
Dr. Stephen Machado (AAAPD Director for Communication and Information, and Professor at Oregon State University, USA)
Dr. Linley Chiwona-Karltun (AAAPD-Europe President, and Research scientist at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU), Sweden)
Dr. Edmund Mupondwa (AAAPD Director for Canada Outreach, and Manager for Central Agric Econs Administration, Canada)
Dr. Thandiwe Nleya (AAAPD Director for Gender Issues)
Dr. Samuel Essah (AAAPD Director for Finance, and Professor at Colorado State University, USA)
Ngolia Kimanzu (AAAPD-Europe COO)