The great success of the 3rd Africa-wide Science Competitions ‘Feeding 1 billion in Africa in a changing World’ which extended over the period 2012-2013 clearly demonstrates how much CTA, FARA, IFS and partners* value the scientific contributions of Africa’s women scientists and young professionals in addressing the challenges that Africa faces.
Dr Hagan was awarded the third prize in the Young Professionals in Science competition. He commented that the most relevant result of his research was the development of chicken breeds that can be highly productive under the hot and humid environments of the tropics. ‘The breeds I have developed are able to produce optimally under heat stress conditions and thereby increase productivity of egg production and hence improve Africa’s food security.’ He told Knowledge for Development that the award is a confirmation that his research has an actual practical impact. ‘It opened doors to international collaboration, helped me to build a research network in my field and to get a promotion as a lecturer in my university. I hope that in five years time I will be an internationally recognised expert in local chicken production and that my work will have a positive impact on food security.’
Dr Rimberiawas rewarded the fifth prize in the Women in Science competition. She explains to Knowledge for development that the most relevant result of her project is the finding that the production of clean and healthy papaya plantlets of known sex can solve the farmers’ inability to differentiate among the papaya’s 3 sex types at seedling stage. She found that healthy orchards with the correct mix of one male to nine female plants will increase fruit yield greatly compared to the current situation where farmers use guess work. Farmers will be able to grow more fruits and the papaya industry will be able to produce more yoghurt and beauty products. ‘This award will increase my visibility in the research community and that of my university. Hopefully, it will help me get a promotion at my university and more funding for research projects. In five years time ‘I will be an associate professor with four patents to my name and many scientific publications.’
Dr Rugira, who won the fifth prize in the Young Professionals in Science competition, told Knowledge for Development that the most relevant result of his research was developing a much cheaper feed for rearing pigs and getting farmers to adopt a new pig breed that provides better quality pork. ‘More meat of better quality will now become available to Africans, improving their protein intake. The livelihoods of pig farmers will also improve through the generation of extra income and savings made on feed.’ He continued that ‘the recognition means we can build on our research for further action-research to address livestock related issues. This award energized me and makes me feel that good science is appreciated irrespective of the subject matter.’ In five years Dr Rugira expects to be at the peak of his scientific career and hopes that he will be ‘mentoring other Africans researchers, publishing at free will, winning bigger research grants and possibly leading a research organisation.’
Dr Binso won the fourth prize in the Women in Science competition. In her interview with Knowledge for Development she explained that her research had shown that hermetic triple bagging is effective in reducing post-harvest losses of cereal and legume grains without the use of insecticide. ‘Hermetic triple bagging technology is a viable alternative because it is effective in reducing grain storage losses and it provides farmers the flexibility to store and sell when prices are high’. She expects that effective extension approaches will lead to quick adoption and commercialisation of the bagging method among smallholder farmers and thus will improve food security through steady supply of quality grain. ‘This recognition means a lot to my career and should serve as an encouragement to women scientists whose research contributes to food security. It gives me confidence to commit myself more to research that supports smallholder farmers, especially rural women to improve their livelihood.’ In five years time Dr Binso sees herself as a specialist in crop storage and an advocate of triple bagging technology.
Dr Koledzi, who was awarded the fourth prize in the Young Professionals in Science competition considers the most relevant result of his project the sorting-composting platform that was developed through the research and that is now processing 20 tonnes of waste every day, with a staff of 35. He told Knowledge for Development that ‘compost producers and farmers both benefit: the compost is being sold to farmers who use it instead of chemical fertilizers to maintain and even regenerate soil fertility in their fields.’ The award for his research is a recognition that even a simple adaptation of existing technologies can help Africa feed itself and the prize will boost the importance of the sorting-composting platform and help me become a full-fledged research professor in this field.’ In five years’ time Dr Koledzi hopes to still be working as a researcher, with engagements both in Togo and Canada.
Ms Akaogureceived the third prize in the Women in Science competition. She clarified to Knowledge for Development that she was the first to research extra-early maize hybrids with a resistance to Striga and a tolerance for periods of drought during the flowering and grain- filling periods. She considers her research important because the adoption and commercialisation of extra-early maize hybrids with these qualities could contribute significantly to food security goals and improved incomes and livelihoods of farmers. She explained that ’the award is a great motivation and encouragement for me. It also inspires me to work harder in order to be one of the winners of the world food prize in the next few years to come. In the next 5 years, I hope to become the head of the maize breeding programme in Nigeria or be working in one of the CGIAR centres developing improved maize varieties that will bring about a maize revolution in West Africa.’
Dr Kiyimbawon the second prize in the Women in Science competition. She told Knowledge for Development that she considers the most relevant result of her research her finding that the effectiveness of using forage choppers depends on the social structures of households, community and support facilities. She explains: ‘To be effectively achieved, mechanised agriculture must be embedded into existing production strategies, recognise what community resources are available and how these can be mobilised to facilitate the use of the machines.’ She considers the award a big milestone in her career, one that makes her believe that although as one person she may not change the world, she can change the world for one person, the smallholder farmer. In the next five years she plans to build a network of researchers working on labour saving technologies, especially for women.
Mrs Kabiri, who won the second prize of the Young Professionals in Science competition, said to Knowledge for Development that mapping Cymbopogon afronardus in Uganda had shown the unprecedented scale of the weed’s invasion. ‘I observed that an essential oil from C. afronardus controls Cyperus rotundus, another weed severely affecting crop production in Africa. C. afronardus is a cheap and environmentally friendly alternative for selective biological weed and pest control in high value crops. Moreover, its harvesting will improve the quality of rangeland pastures.’ She continued: ‘The award gave me confidence as a scientist. It made me realise that my research is important for society and that, in its own small way, it contributes to improving food security. I hope that in five years I am a reputable scientist who contributes towards the consolidation of food security and poverty alleviation in sub-Saharan Africa.’
Dr Sobrateewon the first prize in the Women in Science competition. She considers the identification of the weak points, in terms of sanitisation status, that allow bacterial pathogens to proliferate during composting the most relevant result of her project. ‘Optimised practices of composting, as a component of both conservation agriculture and conventional farming, is one of the solutions to Africa’s soil fertility crisis.’ She continued; ‘being at the first place in the competition gives me a legitimate sense of fulfilment with respect to the relevance of my research. It has also instilled in me the confidence that I can make a difference in the field of bio-resource management.’ Dr Sobratee sees herself in five years’ time working in academia in Mauritius, being engaged in both teaching and learning and in research, whereby teaching and learning activities will be driven and informed by her research and development work.
Dr Haile, who was awarded the first prize in the Young Professionals in Science competition, told Knowledge for Development that the findings of her research could contribute useful information for developing wheat varieties that are resistant against stem rust. ‘Developing resistant varieties with high yields will increase the productivity of wheat farming in Africa and secure more food for the continent. Having won the first prize is an immense honour for me. I feel strongly motivated to continue working hard and contribute to more research on wheat production for the benefit of African farmers.’ Dr Haile described herself as being on the road to becoming a full-fledged enthusiastic scientist.
The decision to host the Africa-wide science competitions targeting African women and young professionals in science was taken by the FARA General Assembly at its 4th meeting in South Africa in 2007. Professor Monty Jones, the former executive director, FARA had readily agreed to partner with CTA, ANAFE, RUFORUM and the NEPAD Planning and Coordinating Agency in hosting these competitions. The Finals of the 2nd round of competitions was held at the 5th FARA GA in Burkina Faso and the decision was taken by the GA to continue to organize the science competitions. In 2012, the partnership was expanded to include the International Foundation for Science (IFS), Sweden. Find the abstracts here: http://knowledge.cta.int/Dossiers/CTA-and-S-T/Developments/Abstracts-CTA-FARA-IFS-ANAFE-RUFORUM-NPCA-AGRA-3rd-Africa-wide-Women-and-Young-Professionals-in-Science-CompetitionsUpdate: 6th Africa Science Week and FARA General Assembly Side Event: Programme for Finals of 3rd Africa-wide Science competitionsUpdate: Top 20 finalists of the 3rd Africa-wide women and young professionals in science competitionsUpdate: October 2012, CTA/ FARA/ IFS/ ANAFE/ RUFORUM/ NEPAD/ AGRA 3rd Africa Wide Women and Young Professionals in Science Competitions
This document contains the proceedings of a national workshop in India on ‘Foresight and Future Pathways of Agricultural Research through Youth’ (March 2013). It was concluded that young agri-professionals face a major challenge in combating food insecurity. To be successful, they will have to utilise their skills in an exceptional manner and for that tertiary agricultural education must ensure: (a) effective communication of science in agriculture, (b) integration of social media in agriculture, (c) promotion of agriculture as a career path, and (d) networking capacity to influence national agenda. Also identified was the need to communicate a more positive image of agriculture to young people, promote high school agriculture, and related agriculture literacy programmes. http://www.apaari.org/publications/agri-research-thru-youth-in-india.html (APAARI, 2013)
Twenty finalists; 10 for each category of the Africa-wide Women and Young Professionals in Science Competitions, ‘Feeding 1 Billion in Africa in a Changing Climate', will compete for the top five places in each competition on 15–16 July 2013.
In March 2012 the Future Agricultures Consortium and the Institute of Statistical, Social, and Economic Research co-hosted an international conference on 'Young People, Farming and Food' in Accra, Ghana. This conference examined how young people engage with the agri-food sector in Africa and how research findings were being integrated into policy processes.It also explored the dynamics of change in different components of the agri-food sector and the implications for young people. The articles in this IDS Bulletin are drawn from the conference. They discuss social and economic structures, aspirations, livelihoods, land and policy, and illustrate the multiple dimensions, scales and complex dynamics of the young people and agriculture 'problem' – and why simplistic 'solutions' are likely to fail. It is hoped that this collection will stimulate the research to fill an evidence gap of very significant proportions.(IDS Bulletin Vol. 43, Is. 6, 11/2012)http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/idsb.2012.43.issue-6/issuetoc
The CGIAR research programme on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) posted a blog entry commenting the newly released Working Paper ‘Participatory gender-sensitive approaches for addressing key climate change-related research issues’. That paper moves from theory to practice through the testing of pre-prepared participatory research tools in Bangladesh, Ghana and Uganda.The rationale behind the manual and the field tests was to get a better understanding of the reality female and male farmers face, and find gender-differences that impede climate change adaptation. The researchers investigated if and how farming practices are being modified to deal with a changing environment, and the constraints and opportunities these changes pose for both men and women. Results from the field show that farmers, depending on gender, age and context face a different reality and various degrees of vulnerability. For instance in Bangladesh, cultural norms prevent unmarried women to travel, whereas in Ghana the women stated that access to transport and finances are not available preventing them to travel very far. This would impede the travel required to visit climate analogue sites. The authors conclude that these kinds of constraints need to be reflected in planned climate change adaptation projects.(Thanks Cecilia Shubert, CCAFS research programme; 23/8/2012)
Fourty-four (44) semi-finalists of the 3rd Africa-wide CTA/FARA/IFS/ ANAFE/RUFORUM/NEPAD/AGRA Women and Young Professionals in Science competitions, participated in a "Scientific-writing, Policy Advocacy and Communication Training workshop" in Uganda from 24-28 September, 2012. The workshop was held in conjunction with the 3rd RUFORUM Biennial Conference. Semi-finalists also attended selected plenary sessions and networked with senior government and university officials, donors and RUFORUM alumni.One of the semi-finalists wrote to Judith Ann Francis, Senior Programme Coordinator, Science and Technology Policy, CTA saying; "This is Julius Hagan (PhD), one of the young professional scientists from Ghana. I would like to express my profound appreciation to the entire CTA team, Dr. Ekaya - RUFORUM and Prof. Obura - lead trainer and other associate sponsors (FARA, IFS, ANAFE, NEPAD, AGRA) for the competition and for the training workshop you organised for the semi-finalists. For some of us, it was an opportunity, once in a lifetime. Thanks for the exposure, accommodation, food, return ticket, per diem and the training. I promise to put into action all that I was taught. I really appreciate everything and promise to work hard to be among the top 10 finalists to represent my country in the finals. Once again thanks for the international exposure".The semi-finalists are now required to revise their draft papers which they worked on during the Uganda training workshop. The final papers must be submitted by the November deadline. They will be peer reviewed and evaluated by the expert panel. The top 10 in each competition, Women and Young Professionals in Science, will then vie for the top prizes at the FARA General Assembly in Ghana, in June 2013.See the full size picture of the participants here.
The Expert panel for the 3rd Africa wide science competitions has selected the semi-finalists from among the 316 abstracts received in response to the calls launched in May 2012. During the second Expert Panel meeting which took place at FARA Secretariat in Ghana from 12-14 July 2012; 55 abstracts (26 for Women and 29 for Young Professionals in Science) were chosen using the established criteria; logic (10%), content (20%), communication (20%), impact (20%), innovation (15%) and originality (15%). A complete list of all the semi-finalists, their research topics and country of origin can be downloaded. All semi-finalists and other unsuccessful entrants have been informed of the outcomes of the selection process.