African Education Shifts Focus to Agri-Food Innovation

by Adenike Adeodun

In recent years, African higher learning institutions, notably universities and polytechnics, have started focusing on innovation alongside traditional academic roles. This change is evident in their strides in food preservation research, which is crucial for better food supply chains.

Notably, Zimbabwe’s educational institutions like Bindura University of Science Education and Chinhoyi University of Technology are leading this shift. However, they face challenges in collaboration, often duplicating efforts in areas like juice production.

Consolidating these efforts into a national strategy can transform smallholder farming and market supply chains. It’s crucial for empowering communities, especially those producing perishable goods in abundance.

According to a report by Newsday Zimbabwe, the major challenge lies in the gap between academic theory and practical industry needs. African curricula need to become more adaptive to the rapidly changing industry landscape.

Moreover, African scholars need to document local knowledge to inform industry and apprenticeship needs more effectively. The current reliance on knowledge from the Global North limits the scope of local relevance.

Education in Africa, still echoing colonial models, often overlooks the informal supply chains that drive agriculture and food systems. This oversight leaves graduates unprepared for the realities of the industry.

Reforming curricula to meet the industry’s dynamic needs is essential. This involves focusing on relevant subjects that impact industries and improve graduate employment prospects.

In conclusion, while African educational institutions are innovating, aligning their output with the agricultural and food system needs is crucial. More concerted efforts in research, documentation, and curriculum reform are necessary for these institutions to play a significant role in transforming informal supply chains into viable industries.

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