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A Farmer as an Agent of Change

In preparation for the growing season In Southern Highlands of Tanzania which is about to start, LEG4DEV PhD researcher Mukoma Kilakila (WUR) has been meeting with legume farmers in several villages during summer 2022 to discuss the potential of new technologies that could increase legume production at low cost and maximize farmers’ investment return. By working with farmers as agents of change, LEG4DEV is focusing its scaling efforts on a range of technologies that include use of inoculants and improved seeds in common beans, groundnuts, and soya. These new legume-based technologies will be tested on farmer’s fields in the season starting in November 2022 and evaluated later by farmers themselves at the end of the season (July 2023).


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LEG4DEV Visits Uganda and The Netherlands

In June 2022, Prof. Charles Spillane and Dr Kieran Fitzpatrick travelled for LEGDEV related activities. Prof. Spillane engaged in an AgriFood Entrepreneurship Workshop in Uganda, while Dr Fitzpatrick visiting project partners in Wageningen, the Netherlands.

13-17 June 2022 – Prof. Charles Spillane attended a 5 day Workshop in Kampala, Uganda on the topic of “Strengthening Agribusiness Incubation Ecosystems in Africa”, which was co-organized by African Union, FAO, African Agribusiness Incubators Network (AAIN), the Regional Universities Forum for Capacity Building in Agriculture (RUFORUM), Agripreneurship Alliance, and Sustainable Food Systems Ireland (SFSI). The workshop brought government, NGOs, farmers organisations, research organisations and accelerator/incubators together from five African countries to jointly plan a capacity development program to Strengthening Agribusiness Incubation Ecosystems in Africa. The workshop was extremely relevant to LEG4DEV activities on Legume-derived enterprises and bioeconomies for more resilient bioeconomies. The initiative discussed at the workshop focuses on five countries in SSA, with two of those being countries in which LEG4DEV is working: Malawi and Zambia. 

Image: Meeting of international agricultural development experts from Ireland with Dr. Janet Edeme, Director of Department of Rural Economy and Agriculture at the African Union Commission. L-R: John Rae (SFSI), Patrice Lucid (IFIAD), Janet Edeme (AU), David Butler (SFSI), Charles Spillane (NUI Galway / SFSI), Brendan Allen (NUI Galway). 

20-21 June 2022 – LEG4DEV’s most recent hire, Dr Kieran Fitzpatrick (LEG4DEV Project Manager), met with key team members at Wageningen University and Research (WUR) for discussions and planning re WUR’s activities within the LEG4DEV Project. He listened and responded to presentations by doctoral researchers, Thomas Delaune and Mukoma KilaKila, on their respective research activities within LEG4DEV, which ae focussed on the southern highlands of Tanzania. These LEG4DEV research activities build on a previous research project in the area, TAMASA, and help to facilitate the scaling of legume-maize crop rotations through digital applications that channel Management Based Advice (MBA) to smallholder farmers.

In addition, Dr Fitzpatrick met with senior academic staff in WUR, such as Dr Jens Anderssen one of LEG4DEV’s co-investigators, and Helena Posthumus, the facilitator of the DeSIRA Lift programme, which assists in supporting all of the research projects funded by the European Commission’s DeSIRA funding programme. 

Dr Fitzpatrick stated,

“My LEG4DEV visit to the Netherlands partners helped familiarise me with, not only Thomas and Mukoma’s PhD research on LEG4DEV and how it will complement the other members of the LEG4DEV doctoral cohort, but also the project’s strategic significance for research in agriculture, both in Africa and Europe. Probably most significantly, it allowed me an opportunity to ‘break bread’ with our team members in Wageningen and foster relationships in person. These relationships are crucial in a project that, by necessity, revolves so regularly around virtual, time-bound meetings, and will I feel be significant in helping us implement LEG4DEV as effectively as possible.”


Blog by Kieran Fitzpatrick, Isabel McLaughlin, Charles Spillane