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Copyright 2017 - @ College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences - Makerere University. All Rights Reserved!

A two-weeks GREAT Gender-responsive Cereal Grains Breeding Course opens at Makerere University-Kampala Uganda


L-R: Dr. Peace Musimenta , Assoc. Prof. Margaret .N. Mangheni  and other particpants playing a game on Gender Based Constraints

Makerere University is hosting a two weeks long training on Gender-responsive  Cereal Grains Breeding Course.

The training running from 7th-16th August 2017 was jointly organized by Makerere University College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences (CAES) and Cornell University of the United States of America under the project titled, “ Gender Responsive  Researchers Equiped  for Agricultural Transformation(GREAT).

The training was opened at Makerere University School of Gender and Women Studies. The course attracted 32 researchers from 10 African countries including Niger, Nigeria and Ghana in West Africa, Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Burundi, Zambia, and Madagascar in East and Southern Africa.


A section of the participants attending the training

This is the second of the five trainings on  theory and practice of gender-responsive agricultural research to be offered over the course of five years. The first course, on Gender-Responsive Root, Tuber and Banana Breeding, concluded in February 2017.

While opening the training, the Co – Project leader for GREAT and Associate Professor at Makerere University Margaret Mangheni, welcomed  participants to the GREAT training.

Mangheni said GREAT is part of the broader strategy to supporting agricultural researchers to ensure that everything is in place to undertake gender responsive research.

“GREAT is a certificate program and an  applied course that seeks to build capacity to implement gender responsive research across the entire project cycle. Participants are purposively selected creating a critical mass based on themes that can continue to engage beyond the training”, she said adding that:

“Our goal is for agricultural researchers working across sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) to improve the livelihoods of smallholder farmers by considering gender, and prioritizing gender equality goals in their work. We are working to equitably extend the benefits of agricultural research to both women and men.” The Makerere Professor added.

The overall objective on the training  is to strengthen ability to design, conduct and communicate gender responsive research. 


Participants display work from group discussions

During the training participants will learn how to identify the needs of both women and men when setting project priorities, implementing projects, and measuring and communicating project outcomes. They will also broaden their understanding of the integral role of gender in their work as scientists and agricultural development professionals.

The teams will focus on timely, pressing challenges including cereal grains production in post-conflict regions among internally displaced persons, and building cereal grain resiliency in changing climates.

Project teams will address plant breeding issues ranging from improving productivity and preserving genetic diversity to protecting against plant disease. All projects will incorporate a gender lens to better address the role that women play in these crop production systems.

Adjunct Professor, International Programs in Cornell University’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, who Co-leads the project team from Cornell   Hale Tufan  said GREAT training will improve the outcomes of agricultural research for smallholder women farmers, entrepreneurs and farmer organizations across Sub saharan Africa.


Adjunct Professor Hale Tufan speaking to the trainees

She observed that agricultural research projects traditionally are often designed with little consideration of how research outputs, technologies and interventions will impact both men and women.

“So we want to work with agricultural researchers to ensure they develop technologies that will address the needs for both men and women. Each year, we are focusing on different crop types. This year, we are focusing on cereal grains like sorghum,  maize  millet rice wheat ”. She said

Tufan added that at the end of the training, researchers will be expected to change their thinking and  the way they design their projects and know that technology alone is not enough but consider context and impact.

“ Makerere university is very central to this process . We want Makerere University to be a Centre of Excellence.  If we have a critical mass of  individuals specialized in research,  that can be a Centre of Excellence. So we are engaging more with different faculties like the School of Women and Gender Studies which we are sitting in today, we have trainees , the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences”. Tufan said.

Makerere University Don, School of  Women and Gender Studies Dr. Peace Musimenta told participants that gender matters in development and agriculture.


Dr. Peace Musimenta conducting one of the lectures on why gender matters in agriculture and development

“No society can achieve  its pontential with half of its population marginalized and disempowered. Development is like a bird. You cannot fly with one wing broken. You need women and men and when we talk about gender, we mean men and women involved in different activities for development to be achieved.”

Dr. Musimenta noted that agriculture is a backbone for many of the economies of the developing countries and therefore, if  agriculture is to be transformed,  gender must be put into consideration.

“Scientists in Agriculture think gender is none of their business. They think gender is for social scientists and as a result they focus on only men as scientists, researchers and extension workers. So, for us to have equal benefits and opportunities in agriculture, we have to consider teaching scientists to consider issues concerning men and women”. Musimenta said.


A section of participants  in group work

Referring to the Sustainable  Development goal number 5, Musimenta   said no one should be left behind if SDGs are  to be attained.

“Agriculture is central to the achievement of many of the SDGs  as it  is a key economic driver and plays a vital role in reducing food  insecurity…  . When national governments undertake economic and agricultural reforms without adopting a gender perspective, there is a risk that the differential impact of new policies and programmes  on women and men  will be overlooked or inadequately understood”, She said.

She reported that  many women depend on agriculture  for their livelihoods yet  they  face  gender based constraints such as limited access to and control  over productive resources especially land and finances, limited control over products from land  and lack of control of their labour.

Dr. Musimenta further explained that  women play a significant role in agriculture in a way that some of the roles in agriculture are divided  for example women are supposed to weed and harvest  taking on all labor intensive work in Agriculture.


Participants discussing questions about gender

Musimenta emphasized  that there is a high  cost of gender inequality in agriculture and development generally. The  sub-Saharan Africa, according to Musimenta pays  a very high price for maintaining discriminatory gender policies.

She pointed out that in 2014 the region’s economic losses due to gender inequality in the labour market was $ 105 bn or  6% of the GDP as indicated by the UDP 2016 Report.

“ Closing  the gender gap in agricultural productivity potentially  increases the GDP by lifting as many 238,000 people out of poverty in Malawi, approximately 80,000 people in Tanzania and  119,000 people in Uganda”, she stated.

Musimenta clarified that Gender equality does not mean putting men down and bringing women up. It means bringing women on board to work hand in hand with men for equal opportunities for better development and outcomes.


GREAT is a project that trains agricultural researchers on gender responsive approaches in research. It is a five year collaboration between Cornell University USA and Makerere University Uganda. The project started in 2016 and is funded by a $5M grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

By 2020, GREAT expects to have trained five cohorts of more than 10 research project teams each, or roughly 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 in small ruminant breeding, and dairy and legume value chains. For sustainability, GREAT will create a centre of excellence for gender-responsive agricultural training to be located at Makerere. GREAT curriculum will eventually be integrated into short courses and agriculture degree programs at Makerere.


A section of participants in group assignment


Training for a lifetime of change

During the introductory week in August, researchers will learn concepts and tools from social scientists, breeders and gender experts who have expertise in data collection, value-chain development of staple crops, socioeconomic development issues like gender equality, equity and development; transformative leadership; and understanding gender patterns in farmer decision-making strategies, among others.

Participants will then spend several months in the field collecting data from men and women cereal grain farmers and value chain actors involved in their ongoing projects. During the practical field experience, they receive support from an e-learning module of resources on the GREAT course website (www.greatagriculture.org) and mentors from Week 1.

 A second week-long training on data analysis, interpretation, and advocacy is scheduled for January 15-19, 2018 at Makerere.

After successfully completing the course, researchers are certified as “GREAT Fellows.” They continue their professional engagement in gender and agriculture within their institutions as well as within the growing Community of Practice.

In addition to the numerous international and national research program partners whose researchers will participate in the trainings, 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).

More information is available at: www.greatagriculture.org/content/courses/upcoming-courses

Report compiled by
Jane Anyango  and Conjesta Kadege

Communication Office

Makerere University College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences

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