Makerere and Cornell University (USA) to train "Gender responsive researchers" on Root, Tuber and Banana Breeding for Agricultural Transformation.
(L) Project Leader, Makerere University Assoc. Prof. Margaret Najjingo Mangheni and (R) Adjunct Professor, International Programs Cornell University Hale Ann Tifan
Makerere University (Uganda) in conjunction with Cornell University (USA) have organized a two-weeks training on “Gender Responsive Root, Tuber, and Banana Breeding (RTB),” starting September 12-21, in Kampala, Uganda.
The training is a joint educational project dubbed, “Gender responsive Researchers Equipped for Agricultural Transformation (GREAT)”. This is a five year project (2016-2020) funded by a $ 5 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
The training which is the first of the seven trainings lined up by GREAT on the theory and practice of gender-responsive research will attract sixteen (16) trainers and eleven (11) teams of thirty three (33) researchers from four continents.
Adjunct Professor, International Programs, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Cornell University Hale Ann Tufan said, GREAT works to equitably extend the benefits of agricultural research to both women and men.
“Our goal is for agricultural researchers working across sub-Saharan Africa to improve the livelihoods of smallholder farmers by considering gender and prioritizing gender equality goals in their work”. She said
The Project Leader, Makerere University, College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, Assoc. Prof. Margaret Najjingo Mangheni observed that majority of people in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) largely depend on roots, tubers and bananas, especially in rural areas.
“GREAT training will improve the outcomes of agricultural research for smallholder women farmers, entrepreneurs and farmer organizations across SSA” She said.
According to the Press Release issued by USA’s Hillary Mara dated 9th September, 2016, researchers working in SSA will learn how to identify the needs of both women and men when setting agricultural project priorities, implementing projects, measuring and communicating outcomes.
“In the “Gender Responsive Root, Tuber and Banana Breeding (RTB)” course, research teams will focus on challenges like banana bunchy top disease, banana xanthomonas wilt, cassava breeding and processing, potato production, banana breeding, micro-nutrient enhanced cassava, and sweet potato improvement”, Part of the press release read.
Researchers in the RTB course according to the press statement represent a mix of projects and institutions: These include; the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture in Cameroon, Bioversity International in Burundi, the Centre de Coopération International en Recherche Agronomic in France, HarvestPlus, NEXTGEN Cassava Breeding in Uganda and Nigeria, the Program for Emerging Agricultural Research Leaders in Ghana, the West Africa Center for Crop Improvement in Ghana, the International Potato Center in Colombia, and the Savanna Agricultural Research Institute in Ghana.
By 2020, GREAT expects to have trained eight cohorts with up to 10 research project teams each, or more than 200 researchers representing at least 30 national and international research institutions in SSA.
Subsequent trainings to create more inclusive and effective agricultural systems will be offered on the themes of grain and legume breeding; small ruminant breeding; dairy and legume value chains; nutrition and food systems; knowledge exchange (extension); and agricultural mechanization.
To help sustain the initiative, GREAT will create a Center of Excellence for gender responsive agricultural training at Makerere University. Over the life of the project, GREAT content will be integrated into spin-off short courses and current agricultural degree programs at Makerere University.
First, researchers will learn concepts and tools during the introductory week-long training in Kampala taught by social scientists, breeders and gender experts. Then, they undertake several months of practical field experience collecting data from their ongoing projects and receiving support from mentors and e-learning modules through resources on the GREAT course website. A concluding week-long training on data analysis, interpretation, and advocacy is scheduled five months later, back in Kampala-in the case of RTB, February 13-17, 2017.
Trainers have a wealth of expertise in gender-related issues, including data collection, value-chain development of staple crops, socio-economic development challenges like gender equality, equity and development; transformative leadership; and understanding gender patterns in farmer decision-making strategies, among others.
In addition to the numerous international and national research program partners whose researchers will participate in the training courses, GREAT will collaborate in SSA with African Women in Agricultural Research and Development(AWARD) and the Association for Strengthening Agricultural Research in Eastern and Central Africa (ASARECA).