UniSA wins prestigious award for innovative social enterprise project in Africa – News and events

May 20, 2022

The contribution of the University of South Australia to an international social enterprise project, which has supported over 15,000 agricultural enterprises in sub-Saharan Africa, has been recognized by the European Foundation for Management Development (EFMD).

UniSA won an EFMD Excellence in Practice Gold Award in the Ecosystem Development category on May 19 for its work on the Transforming Irrigation in Southern Africa (TISA) project, which was established in 2013.

Funded by the Australian Center for International Agricultural Research and led by the Australian National University in collaboration with UniSA and a number of international partners, the project now works with 15,500 agricultural businesses and 42 irrigation companies in three countries.

Under the project, rice mills, storage facilities, agricultural equipment, oil presses and packing facilities have been introduced to communities – opening up opportunities for more small businesses, creating jobs and increasing prosperity .

Professor Andrew Beer, Executive Dean of UniSA Business, says UniSA is honored to be recognized in the awards, which showcase some of the most innovative and impactful partnerships led by business schools around the world.

“The award highlights the complex learning and development project that UniSA has worked on in collaboration with international partners, which has transformed agricultural irrigation enterprises and their irrigation companies from dysfunctional to profitable business ventures,” did he declare.

“Thanks to the project, the profitability of small agricultural enterprises and their irrigation companies has increased significantly, leading to improved livelihoods, food security, nutrition, education and prosperity for farmers.

“This is a wonderful example of research with significant global impact, where our researchers have worked together across disciplines to deliver enterprising solutions that support inclusive and sustainable communities globally.”

The project used a two-pronged approach to deliver a learning and development intervention in sub-Saharan Africa, where around 80% of food is produced by small-scale agricultural enterprises, often under small-scale irrigation systems. operated by irrigators or as irrigator/government. partnerships.

The first intervention provided soil and nutrient monitoring tools and training to help farmers make irrigation decisions, while the second intervention introduced Agricultural Innovation Platforms (AIPs), offering spaces for innovation and learning.

Henning Bjornlund, Research Professor of Water Policy and Management, is leading UniSA’s contribution to the project, driving the development of the AIPs.

According to Professor Bjornlund, farmers and businesses have traditionally tackled challenges individually and in isolation, an approach that has largely failed because the challenges are complex and interconnected.

“We introduced AIPs as a way for farmers, irrigation companies and governments to collaborate to find solutions and then implement them on a larger scale,” he says.

“Using AIPs helps farmers identify barriers to productivity and profitability and explore ways to overcome these barriers, initiating a cycle of learning, increasing profitability, and progressing to business sustainable business.

“Since the start of the project, the profitability of the small agricultural enterprises and their corporations of irrigators has increased considerably. Farmers now see themselves as moving from subsistence farming to “being in business”.

Improved livelihoods and food security for farmers have enabled households to spend more money on food, education and health. Increased farm incomes have also led to the hiring of more non-family labor, creating jobs for other community members.

EFMD is an international, non-profit, member-driven organization recognized globally as an accrediting body for business schools, business school programs and corporate universities.

Contact for maintenance: Professor Andrew Beer E: Andrew.beer@unisa.edu.au
Media contact: Rosanna Galvin M: +61 402 655 752 E : [email protected]

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