Short Course Training

Developing and delivering practically-oriented, high impact short course training

Changing market demands resulting from integration into global value chains and the transformation of subsistence to commercial agriculture, are drivers of increasing complexity of farming systems and agriculture value chains. Agriculture and agri-business curricula offered by higher education institutions are slow to be updated in line with changes and, as a consequence, graduates are ill-prepared for the demands of modern agricultural value chains.

Private sector stakeholders emphasised the need for practically-oriented, high-impact courses able to bridge the gap between the skills needed in this fast changing environment. Existing courses are too theoretical and abstract. Courses need to develop practical skills which will require revitalisation and renewal of the curriculum offered by higher education institutions. New curricula must be developed in collaboration with the private sector. Stakeholders also expressed their willingness to make available practitioners who are able to teach the delivered short courses.

ABLI will play a leading role in the design, development and delivery of short courses for developing the practical strategic leadership, business management, entrepreneurship, technical skills of current and future managers in agricultural value chains. The courses will target senior, middle and entry-level leaders and managers working in farming operations (both subsistence and commercial), agri-businesses and various parts of the agri-logistics value chain, as well as staff working in organisations supporting selected value chains.  

Preliminary skills development themes identified in the assessment of priority training topics undertaken by Jimma University and the views of private sector stakeholders include the following:

Table 1: Skills Development Themes and Topics



Strategic Leadership

Strategic planning and implementation

Change management

Strategic organisation

Market analysis and marketing strategies

Problem-solving strategies, decision-making and delegation

Strategic communication

Conflict management and negotiation skills

Leading teams

Leading technological change and innovation

Project development and finance

Global and regional value chains

Internationalisation of agricultural commodities

Risk analysis and management

Business Management

Strategic management in agriculture

Financial management and control in agriculture

Marketing and supply chain management in agri-business

Business planning in agricultural value chains

Operations management in agricultural value chains

Team building

Business communication in agriculture

Human resource management in agricultural value chains

Safety and quality management in agriculture

Communication and networking

Business decision-making

Export marketing and development

Project management in agriculture


Market analysis and opportunity identification

Enterprise development and business planning

Project development and financing

Resource mobilisation


Poultry farming

Dairy value chains (including, milk processing, feeding and nutrition of milking cows)

Phyto-sanitary requirement

Food safety and quality standards

Integrated pest management

Floriculture management

Greenhouse management


Although the priorities identified by private sector stakeholder emphasised the need for business and entrepreneurial skills, the ABLI is ideally positioned to facilitate the delivery of technical skills development across a broad range of industry.

Joint curriculum task teams need to be established in each of the selected value chains, consisting of Jimma University curriculum specialists and private sector representatives. These task teams must map out the specific strategic leadership, business management and entrepreneurial skills development needs through hosting of curriculum design workshops. In this way, ABLI will play a key role in ensuring that value chain actors become active participants in the process of curriculum development.

It is critical to ensure that the pedagogical approach embeds practical learning and skills development opportunities in the curriculum. Strategies such as the use of case studies, development of scenarios, role-play opportunities, and simulation of real-world experiences should be employed to provide experiential learning opportunities. Pedagogies that stimulate participatory and experiential learning methods, discussion and critical thinking, and problem-solving through teamwork must be employed.

The courses must be delivered on a cost-recovery and revenue generation basis.