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

12 teams of Cereal breeders receive $1000 US Dollars to promote Gender responsive research.

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 A section of participants posing for a group photograph

12 teams of Cereal breeders who participated in a two-weeks Gender-responsive Cereal Grains Breeding (GREAT) Course at Makerere University School of Gender and Women Studies beginning from 7th-16th August 2017, received $1000 per team  at the end of the course to promote gender responsive research.

The training was 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 was, on Gender-Responsive Root, Tuber and Banana Breeding, concluded in February 2017.

While closing the training, the Co – Project leader for GREAT and Associate Professor from Makerere University Department of Extension and Innovation Studies Margaret Najingo Mangheni stressed that the training was conducted with an intention of putting a deliberate consideration on the users of the technologies researchers develop.

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MAK PI, Assoc. Prof. Margaret N Mangheni

That is, the men and women, the society and culture where these women and men farmers come from to understand how these shape the problems which they face and how they influence the adoption of the technologies and benefits that they derive from them.

“During this period that we have had with them, we have taken them through the theoretical concept of how to conduct research that considers gender, how to design projects that puts into consideration the needs of the community for men and women, and also how to design projects and implement them.

They have been able to leave this first phase of the training with a research plan, which spells out the information that they will collect to change the projects that they had been working on, in form of data collection tools, questionnaires, focus groups and discussion guides that they will use to collect information from the men and women farmers,” she explained.

She added, “We want them to acquire practical skills because it’s not just the theory but the ability to be able to apply what they have learnt  and since application is very critical to these courses, We have set aside some funding to put is practice what they have learnt,”.

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 A section of participants doing a warm up exercise

The two weeks training 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 Equipped for Agricultural Transformation (GREAT).

Prof.  Mangheni said that after this phase of the training, the researchers will be required to collect information from the field so that they come back in January for the second phase and will be focusing on analysis.

“They will be analyzing the data collected to be able to find out the different constraints and opportunities of men and women which will be able to address the challenges that they face,”

This, she said the ultimate goal is adoption of technologies that will improve the livelihoods of the farming communities that the men and women, boys and girls leave by overcoming the cultural barriers that sometimes prevent them from adopting the technology.

On the last day of the training, the participants presented their plans to the team of trainers and also got feedback from them.

She revealed that each research team will be assigned with a team of trainers who will be able to offer one on one advice, online and where the situation allows face to face to that effect, they get the coaching which will help them to be able to apply what they have learnt in the field.

“We are hoping and planning to have a transformation in the way research is conducted in the sub-Saharan Africa, “she believes.

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 A section of participants filling in the evaluation form after the training

Prof. Mangheni noted that most breeders while conducting research basically focus on technical aspects and characteristics like improved yields, tolerance to drought and other stresses, pests and diseases but not considering intentionally the lives and circumstance of the farmers who are going to apply it in the communities and other social factors that affect the effective utilization of the technology however good it may be.

“For example the access to resources that is necessary for adoption, there are differences for men and women in many of our African cultures. The roles and responsibilities that the society has given the men and women also have a bearing on who adopts what and then the roles in terms of what women and men prefer, “she stressed.

She observed that the men are traditionally responsible for cash, so there are those social and cultural dynamics of nature which influences the preferences of the technologies and how they are utilized by men and women,

Mangheni emphasized that the trainings given is enabling breeders to intentionally look at those dynamics so that what they come up after their breeding programs,  is able to address the needs of the men and women and stands a higher chance of being adopted to improve the livelihoods of men and women in an equitable manner.

 

Participants speak out on the training

Moses Biluma a sorghum researcher under NARO said his attendance to the training was supported by McKnight Foundation which supports research activities in sorghum with a view of integrating gender in the ongoing efforts of promoting multi-stress tolerant sorghum varieties among the communities in the dry lands of Uganda.

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Moses Buluma (R) during the training

“Previously we have been doing research, but focusing less on gender related aspects, and when I consider what I have leant within this training, it has opened my thinking and the mindset because we have been ignoring some of the small things and yet they influence the uptake of our research,” he said.

He highlighted issues to do with decision making within families and particular attributes that women and men consider important which they don’t always put into consideration yet may influence the uptake of research.

“We may think about them but we have never got the extent to which they can affect the uptake of our technologies, so with this training, I am going to be a champion of change not only at NASRRI but to also reach out to other research institutes,” he pledged.

Priscilla Francisco Libedro,  a crop scientist  and also a maize breeder from Ghana said she was inspired to take part in the training after hearing testimonies from people who have attended it and how it had helped them to transform agriculture through putting emphases on gender responsiveness.

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Priscillor Franscisco being  interviewed

“Coming here has opened my eyes to the truth and the skills that I will need to make my research gender responsive, because over the years we have been developing drought resistant maize varieties but the farmers were not really adapting to a particular one and we wondered why.

From the case study we have developed, I have realized that when I go back I will have to go where I developed those particular varieties, and ask both men and women and also why they are not adapting to a particular variety,” she explained.

She said that from the course, she realized that when she goes back, she will get responses which can help her improve the new breeding that she is yet to do.

“From the beginning if I had acquired these skills that I have got now, I would have made my projects gender responsive meaning that developing a variety would take into the account the preference from men, women and youth and me as a breeder it will mean that the variety that I have developed will be adapted, “she said.

Gaudiose Mujawamariya from the Africa Rice Centre, a research institution which works on rice in Africa based in Madagascar said that as much as she has held several gender courses but had never leant how to integrate gender in all aspects of research.

“The relevance, why and how it leads to the better outcome, these are the things I will be doing in my work.We hope to investigate a case of decision making regarding variety adoption in Madagascar but if I had not participated in this course, I would have gone quantitative in other words checking how men are adopting, how and why they are not adopting just at the social economic characteristics.

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Mujawamariya being interviewed

But with this course, it is not just the obvious which explains the decision that there are some interactions within the households which are very important and will make you adopt or not,” she explained.

She observed that the knowledge on gender responsive research is still limited when doing research in communities apart from a few centers but many still consider gender in terms numbers.

“If you have projected and you have 30% of women participation depending on what you have, you will be feeling confortable but it will not mean that you have addressed issues of gender, so the gap is there and it has to be brought out with evidence.

 So I have to say evidence is necessary instead of generalizing since in gender responsive projects we really bring out concrete information needed to address issues of gender development,” she explained.

 

During the training, the participants also visited farmers in Buso within Busukuma Division in Nansana Municipality in Wakiso district as part of their practical work to put into practice what they had learnt theoretically.

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.

 

 About GREAT

GREAT is a project that trains agricultural researchers on gender responsive approaches in research. It is 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.

 

Article compiled by:

Nankebe Agnes Nantambi,

Internee, Communication Office CAES

 

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