In the late eighties, African colleges and universities teaching Agriculture and Natural Resource sciences realized that there were policy and institutional barriers to the establishment of Agroforestry education.
There were challenges relating to where within the academic programmes and how such an integrated programme could be introduced and managed.
Following a series of education workshops supported by ICRAF, the colleges and universities agreed to establish a network to facilitate an effective exchange of ideas, and share experiences on the teaching of integrated agricultural programmes. The idea was developed into a project proposal, which was funded by Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida) beginning in May 1992.
ANAFE was launched at a meeting held at ICRAF headquarters, 19-21 April 1993. The launching meeting was attended by 17 universities and 12 technical colleges teaching land-use disciplines in sub-Saharan Africa. At the launching workshop, members defined the objectives, priority activities and procedures for establishing and managing the network. The network is hosted at the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) in Nairobi, Kenya.
The overall objective of ANAFE at that time was to promote the incorporation of Agroforestry into agricultural programmes. Agroforestry, an integrating approach to farming and natural resources management was then not well understood and did not have natural niches in academic programmes. With time, more Colleges and Universities picked up Agroforestry, but a new problem emerged—many new areas of scientific and technological development such as biosciences, climate change and management of agriculture environmental services were emerging as important as well. With pressure from society to achieve more through agriculture and natural resource management in Africa, ANAFE had to expand its mandate.
At the fourth General Meeting in April 2003, members of ANAFE recognized the need to reform all agricultural and natural resources education programs to make them responsive to development needs. This would require among others, education policy changes, strengthening the content and delivery of education programmes, establishing and nurturing linkages among education, research and extension and building a culture of sharing information and expertise among educational programmes and training institutions. ANAFE launched a new programme dubbed ‘Improving agriculture and natural resources education in Africa – a stitch in time’
The new goal of ANAFE is to improve in a sustainable manner the contribution of agricultural education to social and economic development of the African people.