UNN don wins $200,000 PIRA grant

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Professor Agwu Ekwe Agwu of the Department of Agricultural Extension, University of Nigeria, Nsukka (UNN) has been awarded the Partnership for Innovative Research in Africa (PIRA) scaling grant valued at $200,000 by the Alliance for African Partnership (AAP).

Announcing the grant award at a virtual event held on Thursday, the AAP Co-Director, José Jackson-Malete said that Agwu benefitted from one of the four tier grants awarded by the AAP, a consortium of ten African Universities and the Michigan State University.

Agwu, according to her, would collaborate with other researchers from Michigan State University, Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources, and Indira Gandhi National Open University in the grant research project titled “Strengthening Agricultural Extension Training in the MSU-Alliance for African Partnership (AAP) Consortium Partners in Africa”.

Jackson-Malete further explained that the grant was part of a US$1.5 million in grants awarded to 11 research teams from AAP member universities together with allied research teams from non-AAP universities in the second round of the consortium’s grant awards. The first was in 2017.

“The success achieved by our 2017 grantee partnerships laid a strong foundation for a second round of research funding,” José Jackson-Malete stated.

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This year’s grant, grouped into four categories, covered a wide range of transdisciplinary topics including an exploration of youth empowerment processes for social change, sustainable digital health systems, novel flour foods for nutrition, and strengthening agricultural extension, among others.

“One of the unique aspects to these grants is the expectation that organizations will establish and develop equitable partnerships from the conception to the closeout of the project among themselves and with relevant local stakeholders,” added AAP Co-Director Amy Jamison.

Richard Mkandawire, AAP Africa Director said that he hoped to see life-changing results from the grants in Africa.

The UNN-AAP focal point, Prof. Anthonia Achike, who represented the UNN Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Charles Igwe in the grant award ceremony, congratulated Prof Agwu and his team for attracting the grant. She thanked the AAP for its interest in African universities, stating that the “UNN is happy to be a member of the AAP consortium”.

Agwu said that the outcome of the research project would be applied in the review of curriculum for teaching agricultural extension courses among AAP member universities. He thanked the AAP for the grant awarded to his team, stating that the project would last for 18 months, effective from July, 2021.

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