ICYMI: UFS experimental farm integrates cutting-edge drone tech

The recent addition of a state-of-the-art agricultural drone at the Paradys Experimental Farm marks a significant advancement in equipping students from the University of the Free State (UFS) with the modern skills required to thrive in the agriculture industry.

Prof Johan van Niekerk, vice-dean of agriculture, emphasised the transformative potential of the DJI Agras T40 drone, generously donated by Rectron, a leading provider of agricultural technology.

Innovation instrumental in agriculture
“Integrating cutting-edge tools into our curriculum allows us to provide students with invaluable hands-on experience in using drones for agricultural purposes,” he said.

The unveiling ceremony took place at the Paradys Experimental Farm, located just outside Bloemfontein on the road to Reddersburg.

According to Van Niekerk, its efficiency enables it to cover up to 21.3 hectares per hour, significantly enhancing productivity. Moreover, it supports a variety of missions including surveying, mapping, spraying, and spreading, ensuring precision in agricultural operations.

Meanwhile, Prof Paul Oberholster, dean of the faculty of natural and agricultural sciences, highlights the importance of aligning educational programmes with industry needs.

“Our goal is to produce graduates who are not only ready for the workplace but are also trained in the latest agricultural technologies. Collaborations with industry partners bring these technologies to the Paradys Experimental Farm, ensuring our students are highly employable.

“South African agriculture must adapt to the changing environment and play a pivotal role in global food and nutrition security,” he said.

Technology and education
The innovation manager of the Paradys Experimental Farm, Dr Christopher Rothmann, said the integration of drone technology in agriculture represents a significant leap in managing and monitoring farming operations.

“Drones transform traditional farming into a more precise, efficient, and sustainable practice. By leveraging advanced drone capabilities, farmers can achieve better resource management, higher productivity, and a reduced environmental footprint, ultimately leading to more resilient and profitable agricultural operations.

“Additionally, drones can perform spot spraying treatments of pesticides and fertilisers, reducing agricultural runoff and chemical drift, which benefits nearby crops and the soil,” he said.

Rothmann further emphasised the streamlined data collection processes and opportunities for interdisciplinary collaboration and professional development that drones facilitate.

“Using drones fosters real-world applications, community engagement, sustainability, and innovation, aligning with the university’s goals of excellence, relevance, and societal impact in agriculture,” he said.

Rothmann highlighted the critical role of industry partnerships in advancing education and ensuring the relevance of agricultural programmes at the University of Free State.

Source: FoodForMsanzi


Professor Rugumayo installed as Chancellor Mountains of the Moon University

Prof Rugumayo was installed on Friday by Vice President Rtd Major Jessica Alupo at the University’s 15th graduation ceremony held at the University Main Campus in Saaka, Fort Portal City.

In 2020, President Museveni appointed Rugumayo as chancellor to serve for a four-year term of office.  His appointment followed the recommendation of the University council, based on section 30(1) of the Universities and Tertiary Institutions Act, 2001 (as amended).

His appointment came two months after the university was taken over by the government as a public institution.

Being one of the co-founders of the institution in 2005, Professor Rugumayo had served in a similar capacity before the institution was taken over by the Government as a public university.

Rugumayo attended Galihuma Primary School in Kyenjojo and Nyakasura School, before being admitted to Makerere University in the mid-1950s.

In 1958, he was given a scholarship to study in the United Kingdom.

Professor Rugumayo holds a Diploma in Education from Chester College in the United Kingdom and a Bachelor of Science in Botany and Ecology from the University of London.

After the Uganda National Liberation Army (UNLA) and the Uganda National Liberation Front (UNLF) captured power, Rugumayo became the chairman of the National Consultative Council (NCC), the parliament of the time.

Rugumayo served as Minister of Education in 1971, Chairman of the National Consultative Council in 1979, Uganda’s first Ambassador to South Africa in 1996, Minister of Internal Affairs in 1999, and Minister of Tourism, Trade and Industry in 2000.

Source: The Independent

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USSEIN Launches Pioneering Geomatics Master’s Programme in Collaboration with ASES and French Embassy

The University of Sine Saloum El Hadji Ibrahima Niasse (USSEIN) in Kaolack, Senegal, has introduced its master’s degree programme in geomatics within the Environment, Biodiversity, and Sustainable Development Department of its Social and Environmental Sciences Research and Training Unit (UFR), as reported by the Senegalese Press Agency (APS).

The inaugural cohort of this groundbreaking program consists of approximately twenty-five students, with 13 female and 12 male students, including one participant from Benin. This first batch of students, supported by the French Embassy in Dakar through its innovation cooperation attaché, is set to become experts capable of addressing various challenges in the field.

The launch ceremony, held at the Khelcom Birame campus, was presided over by Ngoné Cissé, head of the Guinguinéo department. Distinguished attendees included Professor Ndèye Coumba Touré Kâne, the rector of USSEIN, and Maram Kaïré, the director general of the Senegalese Space Study Agency (ASES), among other academic and territorial figures.

Professor Diégane Diouf, director of the UFR Social and Environmental Sciences at USSEIN, highlighted the significance of this initiative as a crucial step in the university’s commitment to academic excellence. He emphasised that geomatics plays a central role in contemporary issues related to the environment, urban planning, and natural resource management.

The rector of USSEIN, Professor Ndèye Coumba Touré Kane, expressed pride in launching the geomatics master’s programme, emphasising its importance in providing students with skills to become experts in evolving fields. She encouraged students to seize opportunities and become ambassadors for the programme, university and the country.

The launch event also featured signing of a framework partnership agreement between USSEIN and the ASES. Maram Kaïré, the director of ASES, noted that this collaboration signifies the agency’s commitment to working with institutional, academic, and technical stakeholders to develop the national space ecosystem.

Ngoné Cissé, the head of Guinguinéo, observed that USSEIN has firmly established itself in higher education and research over the ten years since its creation. She stressed that the geomatics master’s degree programme contributes to the diversification of professional training at USSEIN and aligns with the country’s goals of territorial development and rational use of space through geographic information systems.

Source: SpaceInAfrica


University of Kara, Togo Volunteer Agency launch online course on volunteering and citizenship

The Kara University launched an online course on volunteering and citizenship on November 27, 2023. The project was launched in Kara, in partnership with the Togo Volunteer Agency (ANVT). 

The course includes three modules: civic engagement; volunteering and development; and equity, gender and inclusion. They will be delivered in hybrid mode.

According to the two partners, the project aims to provide enrolled students with key volunteering skills and civic values “so that they are prepared to play an active role in the development of Togolese society”.

“We aspire to see both national and international volunteers and learners emerge from this training with a renewed vision of their role in society, not only armed with technical skills but also imbued with the profound values of citizenship and commitment to solidarity”, said ANVT DG Omar Agbangba.

Students who take the course will receive in-depth knowledge of the institutions of the State and crucial information on their rights and duties to participate fully in the public life of the country.

In addition to Kara’s students, local and foreign volunteers can take the free course.

The recently launched course is the fruit of a partnership concluded in 2020 by the ANVT and the University of Kara. The partnership’s goal was to enable the university’s students to learn civic values, helping them become more employable after graduating.

Source: TogoFirst