The role of higher and vocational education and training in developing knowledge and skills - the case of agri-food transformation


Agriculture remains a critical component of livelihoods in Africa. Engaging youth in agricultural education and training is key to accelerating sustainable growth. Agri-food is a prime example of a sector where learnability and employability meet.

This session highlighted best practices of institutional collaboration between Africa and Europe in the agri-food sector. A panel of academics and experts explored how higher education institutions can play a role in engaging young people in the sector as well as contribute to improving the quality and demand for vocational education.

Policy recommendations produced by the workshop:


You can find the recommendations in detail here:

Recommendations of Workshop F [PDF 204.33 KB]

Speakers at the workshop:

Prof. Daniel Sila holds a PhD in Bioscience Engineering from KU Leuven, Belgium. Has over 10 years of experience in plant based foods work, particularly fruits and vegetables at research level and industrial set up. Has over 25 publications in international peer review journals of high impact and has presented in many international fora. Key strengths which highlight the major assignments pursued in the 5 years include being a project leader in VLIR-UOS funded beans project, Aus AID funded amaranth project, Mango JKUAT project, Cactus JKUAT project. Is currently a senior lecturer in the Department of Food Science and Technology and the Chairman of the Department of Agricultural Resource Economics (JKUAT).

Marianne van Dorp is Manager Business Development and responsible for business
Development in the domain Sustainable and Inclusive Food Systems of WCDI. She has a
background in food and nutrition security and specialises in the link between agricultural
development and nutrition improvement.

In her current capacity, one of Marianne van Dorp’s tasks is to oversee the CDI professional courses programme for mid-career professionals. Around 850 international course participants, most of them from Africa and Asia and many of them with NFP fellowships, attend the over 30 CDI courses every year. Marianne van Dorp is also responsible for collaboration with a number of Institutes for Higher Education in various countries in Africa and Asia (including NICHE programmes).

The case of Agri-Food Transformation presentation – University of Wageningen, Netherlands [PDF 673.97 KB]

Experienced Manager with a demonstrated history of working in the Public Policy industry. Skilled in Government, Interim Management, Public Policy, Training, and Public Sector. Strong professional with a Post-graduate program focused in Public Management from AOG School of Management and Applied Economic Sciences from the University of Hasselt. Achigan-Dako is the coordinator of the program ‘’Enhancing training and research mobility for novel crops breeding in Africa’’ (MoBreed), a project funded by the Commission of the European Union that aims to strengthen the mobility of training and research on orphan crops in Africa. He is also a co-PI of another European Union project on ‘’Mobility for plant genomics scholars to accelerate climate-smart adaptation options and food security in Africa’’ (GENES). Professor Achigan-Dako is the coordinator of the Capacity Building Project in Leadership and Entrepreneurship of Young Academics in Benin, funded by the Mastercard Foundation. He also coordinates other projects and programs at the African level, including: CLEONOMICS, which aims to develop improved varieties of Akaya (Gynandropis gynandra), a neglected leaf vegetable, for the West and East African markets. He is a member of the consortium of the SWEET POTATO Project funded by the African Union and the national Coordinator of the AGRO-ECO project on strengthening the agroecological transition in cereals and horticultural production systems of Atacora department in Benin and Houet region in Burkina Faso, with the the Belgium Government funding through ARES-Research and Higher Education Academy of Wallonie and Brussels.

As Deputy Director-General for education and research since August 2011, Dr. Valérie BADUEL is in charge of higher education, research, innovation and international cooperation in education and research within the French Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Forestry. She is particularly involved and active in developing cooperation with Africa in vocational training and higher education, essential to meet the major challenges in agriculture, food and rural development.
She was previously Deputy Director General of AFSSA, French food safety agency from 2005 until 2010, and of Anses, French agency for food, environmental and occupational health and safety from 2010 until 2011.

Mervin Bakker (1973) has been based in Pretoria since August 2017, as Regional Director of Nuffic’s Netherlands Education Support Office (NESO) in South Africa. NESOs operate in locations of strategic importance for the Dutch education and research sector, and are overseas offices of Nuffic, the Dutch organisation for internationalisation in education.

The NESO office in Pretoria supports the Dutch knowledge sector in its activities in South Africa and the wider region. These activities include reciprocal student mobility, capacity development, academic cooperation, scholarship programmes, the Holland Alumni network, and other education related projects and programmes like the Orange Knowledge Programme, the NRF-Nuffic Doctoral training programme and innovative internationalization activities like #cocreateMYCITY.

From 2011 until August 2017 Mervin was based in Jakarta (Indonesia) as Regional Director for the NESO offices in Southeast Asia. Before joining Nuffic, Mervin has worked for the University of Amsterdam as Manager International Programmes and Head of Marketing & Communications. Earlier in his career he worked for an education agent in Thailand and ran a student related business in the Netherlands. Mervin holds an MSc in International Economics & Economic Geography (1998) from Utrecht University and an MBA in Higher Education Management (2007) from the Institute of Education at University College London.

Armand Gaikema contributed to the development of assessment tools and monitoring and evaluation instruments for the Erasmus Plus modality Learning Mobility of Individuals and the Tailor Made Training modality of the Netherlands Fellowships Programme.
He also carried out assessments of more than 50 Erasmus Plus applications submitted by Dutch Higher Education Institutions for different regions (North America, Latin America, Industrialised Asia, and Eastern Europe) on criteria such as quality of presented international strategies, cooperation arrangements, design and plan of mobility programmes, impact and dissemination of student and staff exchange programmes.
Furthermore, he carried out assessments of more than 20 TMT project proposals and facilitated monitoring and evaluation of TMTs in Central and East Africa.


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