The GREAT Project has ended its 4th training and General course on gender responsive plant breeding. The nine-day course punctuated by field case studies was held at the Forest Cottages in Bukoto-Kampala on 22nd -31st July 2019.

The project management team and trainers expressed pride and excitement that the training model they have been testing has now been perfected and they are now able to scale it when the project phases out next year 2020. 

Mak PI, Assoc. Prof. Margaret Nanjjingo Mangheni speaking during the end of the course

Speaking during the closure of the first part of Week 1 of the 4th course, Makerere University’s Project Principal Investigator Assoc. Prof. Margaret Najjingo Mangheni said they have been testing the model over the last four years and this year 2019, found that they have perfected it because of the outcomes.

“Today as we close the first part of the course, participants were able to present the applied gender studies that they have been developing throughout the week.

We can see evidence of learning; they have not only acquired but also applied knowledge in designing gender responsive studies.

So we see that the training model that we have been trying to test has now been perfected and we are now able to scale it when the project phases out next year”,Assoc. Prof. Mangheni said.

She disclosed that  an annual meeting with partners from the Gates foundation Cornell and Makerere university and the advisory committee has been scheduled for 6th August 2019 to reflect on the learnings over the four years and see how to position themselves in the remaining year to concretize the achievements.

The other agenda of the meeting according to the PI is to plan for the sustainability phase of GREAT which includes offering demanded or tailored courses from all over the world and make sure that the program is institutionalized at Makerere University.

Dr. Grace Bantebya interacting with one of the trainees during the training

Dr. Grace Bantebya from the School of Women and Gender studies observed that at the beginning of the training, it was clear many of these social scientist and breeders had not internalized the gender concepts and how to apply.

“But today, they have demonstrated through their projects the use of gender concepts in their breeding programs and they have designed research questions that are gender specific and they have been able to apply the gender theories, concepts and operationalized them in their research projects.

 For me, that was the high pitch; it was brilliant that we have them at this level and I am sure these are people we have recruited whose experience and knowledge is going to have a multiple effect to their programs because many of them have bigger breeding programs and for me, I feel great”, Dr. Bantebya commended.

Dr. Jennifer Bisikwa guiding the teams during the training

Dr. Jennifer Bisikwa, from the School of Agricultural Sciences who has conducted the training for two years commended the program for its multidisciplinary.

“I believe it is a very good training because it brings on board different teams of plant breeders, gender experts and social scientists. When we have this kind of collaboration, that is how we can make impact because if a plant breeder develops the varieties without putting into consideration the needs and preferences of the farmers, the farmers cannot adopt.

 It is very good that we bring social scientists on board because they deal with the social aspects like behaviors and human aspect of the whole research.

Me, I am an agronomist. I did not know much about the social aspects and interactions and how we can work together as a team but being part of this gender training has opened my eyes”, Dr. Bisikwa stated.

Dr. Kalule (R) interacting with Dr. Bisikwa after the training

A new trainer, Dr. David Kalule Okello working with the National Agricultural Research Organization (NARO) described the training and participant diversity as a key component for the sustainability of households.

“I found out that the diversity of the participants is quiet wide and there are many projects in there but the gender aspect was abit weak.

Today, seeing participants present that concept which they want to work with incorporating all the gender aspects in their work made us very proud. They grasped the concepts very well, applied it in there. To make it sustainable, we shall continue mentoring them and ensure that it is integrated not only in their project but in their day- to-day work.

And on the personal level, interacting and mentoring these people was quiet enriching and I feel that being a mentee and amentor myself, it is kind of giving back to make them grow up in getting gender issues in the cropping programs.” Dr. Kalule narrated.

The training attracted research teams of social scientists and plant breeders from   India, Thailand, Benin, Cameroon, Ethiopia, Ghana, Malawi, Niger, Sierra Leone, Tanzania, Togo, Uganda, Kenya and Zimbabwe.

Eileen Bogweh (2nd) from the right contributing during the group discussions

Eileen Bogweh Chanji a gender specialist working with theAfrican RegionalOffice  at the International  Centre for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) and the Pan African Beans Research Alliance described the course as interesting.

“Definitely because I am in development world at times you get lost what is in the academics. To me, it was interesting to get new articles, citations to sharpen my skills and interacting with the NARS and gender experts on how to do gender responsive research.

To me it was really exciting to hear a breeder ask why   two men, six women and arguing and discussing all this was heartwarming. We need to know the needs and preferences of men women and youth, economic and political environment.

For me attending the GREAT training I am so happy, it is a community of those who have the same believe like me who want to show that gender looks at everyone not women but within the context that matters”, Chanji said.

Ram and Lutzdepenbusch during the the training

Lutz Depenbusch a postdoctoral scientist for Impact Evaluation at the East and Southeast Asia Regional Office of the World Vegetal center Bankok said, he was happy to participate in the course.

” For me the best experience was about working together with my colleague working on Munge bean bringing together socio-economists and breeding focused on gender and understanding how together as team we can integrate our work and how we can work to better understand gender in our research”, Lutz noted.

Charity Chonde (R) and colleague during the training

Charity Chonde from Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural resources in Malawi said she had learnt a lot during the GREAT Course.

“First I have learnt how to define different gender concepts and that gender goes beyond looking at farmers as women and men but there are also other concepts which we need to look at for instance gender relations, gender access, control and ownership of resources, gender norms and decision making and how men and women are affected by the decision making in households.

I have learnt how I can mainstream gender in research which was very difficult for me before I came to attend this training and I am also a lecturer at Lilongwe university of Agriculture and Natural resources where I teach and supervise students in gender projects.

This means that information that I have learnt here will help me not only a researcher but also help me when teaching students who are in gender programs and those conducting research in gender. I will be able to advise them on the right research methods that mainstream gender and when I come back for analysis, it will help me in the same vein.” Chonde stated.

Abdul-Razak presenting during the training

Abdul Razak Mohammed from Ghana said his experience was great and beyond his expectations.

“I have experienced things beyond my expectations because I have come to understand what gender is. I thought gender was about the number of men and women. I have been told that gender is beyond.

I have learnt that gender is everything. The work you do, once you are working with society to have gender perspective at the back of your mind particularly those of us working in the agricultural sector.

When we come up with varieties, we need to make sure they are gender responsive and how do we do that? We need to start with gender from the initiation of our research programs. So my expectations have been wonderful”, Abdul said


Gender-responsive Researchers Equipped for Agricultural Transformation (GREAT) is a 5 year (2015-2020) Makerere University (Uganda) and Cornell University (USA) joint certificate program in applied gender training for agricultural researchers funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Dr. Mangheni moderates the discussions after group presentations

It offers skills in gender-responsive research tailored to assisting agricultural researchers to address gender issues along the design, implementation, evaluation, and communication pathway of their research projects.

The project is jointly implemented by Makerere University College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences (CAES) and the School of Women and Gender Studies (SWGS). The project has been operational for the past three years and now in its fourth year.

Report compiled by
Jane Anyango
Communication Officer, CAES

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