NJALA UNIVERSITY PARTNERS WITH SONGHAI CENTRE, BENIN, TO CREATE A TRANSFORMATIVE AGRICULTURAL MODEL FOR SIERRA LEONE
[24-01-2019] Njala University, Sierra Leone, partners with the Regional Songhai Centre in the Republic Benin to replicate the Songhai Model in Sierra Leone. This understanding was reached during a recent visit of a team of 24 experts from the University,the Ministry of Technical and Higher Education and international partners to the Regional Songhai Centre under the esteemed leadership ofthe Vice-Chancellor and Principal of Njala University, Professor Abdullah Mansaray.
The Songhai Centre Model embodies various mechanisms through which a paradigm shift away from input-intensive conventional agriculture towards agro-ecological production systems, which has been increasingly recognized in international assessments, including by UNCTAD, the FAO- and World Bank-led IAASTD process, and the UN Special Rapporteur on the right to food can be achieved in resource poor communities on a sustainable basis. The Songhai regional centre is taking a leadership role in this drive as it strives to develop the basis for diversified African agro-ecological systems to deliver strong and stable yields, environmental resilience and secure farming livelihoods – thereby succeeding where current systems are failing. The Songhai integrated agriculture model, which empowers youth, women and communities to sustainably harness natural resources for their livelihoods while at same time building their entrepreneurship capacity and expanding employment opportunities. The primary goal of Njala University’s visit to the Centre was to facilitate in-depth understanding of the intellectual underpinnings of the Songhai Centre model for rapid adoption as production, training, research and agribusiness extension space for the University.
At the end of the visit, the visitation team fromNjala University and international partners from the Food Security Centre (FSC) of the University of Hohenheim, Germany, University of Illinois at Urbana Champagne (UIUC), USA, Sasakawa Africa Fund for Extension Education (SAFE), the Ministry of Technical and Higher Education and the Songhai Regional Centre recognized the transformative potential of a Njala Songhai Center and agreed to collaborate to replicate the Songhai Centre Model at Njala, to enhance the University’s capacity to provide high quality, skills-based training in agriculture for students and youth entrepreneurs.
In his closing remarks, the Deputy Minister of Technical & Higher Education (MTHE), Hon. Dr Turad Senesie, who represented the Government of the Republic of Sierra Leone, assured all members of the visitation team and staff of the Songhai Centre that the Government of Sierra Leone, is fully in support of the Njala-Songhai Initiative. The Hon. Deputy Minister further assured the team of experts the MTHEwill facilitate a briefing meeting with H.E. the President, Rtd. Brigadier Julius Maada Bio, on Njala University’s Songhai Study Tour and transformative potential of this model to Sierra Leone’s economy, once successfully adopted.The Vice-Chancellor and Principal, NU, Professor Abdullah Mansaray expressed gratitude to all and urged staff of NU to always keep the spirit of Songhai alive in their minds, hands and hearts in the University’s journey towards promoting transformative agriculture in Sierra Leone.