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GREAT Conducts First Spinoff Courses for ICRISAT Social Scientists and Plant Breeders

Participants engage in role play to illustrate barriers to women's active participation in agricultural activities during the GREAT TLIII Course on 26th November 2018, Forest Cottages, Bukoto Kampala, Uganda.

GREAT conducts the first spinoff courses for ICRISAT Social Scientists and Plant Breeders working on Tropical Legumes III to build their Capacities for Gender Responsive Research and Reporting

The Bill and  Melinda Gates  Foundation has  supported Makerere and Cornell Universities to conduct short courses for agricultural researchers in sub-Saharan Africa (2015-2020) and establish Makerere University as a centre of Excellence in Gender and  Agricultural Research Training under the projected titled, “Gender-responsive Researchers Equipped for Agricultural Transformation (GREAT). This initiative is implemented collaboratively by the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences (CAES) and the School of Women and Gender Studies.

Over the years, there has been increasing demand for Makerere University’s GREAT short courses in Sub Saharan Africa and beyond.  In 2017/2018, the university was contacted by seven organisations/projects to offer tailored courses. This is evidence that the GREAT course profile and visibility have increased.   These spinoff courses represent one of the key strategies for sustainability of the GREAT course. The organisations that request for them show willingness to pay for the GREAT course.

A team of the course instructors from Makerere University

A Memorandum of Understanding was signed between Makerere University and the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) in April 2018 for Makerere to train biophysical and social scientists working on the Tropical Legumes III project.

As a result, eighteen (18) participants (9 social scientists and 9 legume breeders) from sub-Saharan Africa working in NARs and Universities on various breeding programs under the Tropical Legumes III project on 26th November, 2018 converged at Forest Cottages, Bukoto in Kampala, Uganda for the GREAT capacity building course on Gender-responsive research and reporting offered at Makerere University.

The research teams from Burkina Faso, Kenya, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Mali, Ghana and Nigeria have collected household level data on project focus crops mainly groundnuts, cowpeas, common beans and chickpeas production areas.

Dr. Esther Njuguna speaks during the GREAT TLIII Course opening ceremony at Forest Cottages, Kampala Uganda

The six day GREAT-TL III course ending on 1st December 2018 was opened by the Senior Gender scientist for East and Southern Africa, ICRISAT, Dr. Esther Njuguna. Another ICRISAT staff in attendance is Dr. Edward Bikett.

In her opening remarks, Dr. Esther Njuguna said TLIII with its partners in the program have an intention of breeding improved legume varieties in seven countries in East, Western and Central Africa.“So today we have leaders of those breeding programs collectively coming together to discuss about gender integration. These are also teams looking at what gender means, having a gender product profile and how that is practically done in terms of data collection, interpretation of results and designing research questions that need intervention.

“We have requested GREAT if they can build capacity of our teams in this particular aspect because of their experience in training gender and social science teams. So we are spending time here in Kampala to discuss and agree on a way forward so that we can implement gender responsive activities in our project”, Dr. Njuguna said.

Some of the participants applaud as they listen to proceedings during the GREAT TLIII Course

Dr. Njuguna said, gender is important not as an end in itself, but as a means of delivering outcomes for women and men who are vulnerable in different typologies and communities.

She explained that failure to consider gender equals to failure to consider interests of half of the community and failure of having a way to deliver the program objectives.

“So when we are talking about gender-responsive product profile, we are asking ourselves questions like, “What are those traits that are important for women, men or a certain segment of consumers and why, and how programmers respond to those needs, so that we have adoption and impact to change lives in terms of nutrition and income generation”, Dr. Njuguna explained.

Instructors and Participants pose for a group photo after the opening session

In her key message to the participants, Dr. Njuguna stressed that gender issues are important in every sphere of life and that, in a scientific thematic area like plant breeding and seed systems deployment, it becomes challenging because these are traditional areas where many have made progress on how to do things best.

“But one reality is that the adoption levels have been very low and one of the hypotheses is that, we have been blind to the gender issues and needs of the different categories of our farmers and consumers.

“When we are talking  about gender, we are taking a deliberate action by looking at those needs, traits and preferences so  that we are more targeted for better efficiency in our programmes for impact in terms of nutrition and incomes”, Njuguna stated.

Assoc. Prof. Margaret Najjingo Mangheni gives an overview of the training

Makerere University’s Program Coordinator Assoc. Prof. Margaret Najjingo Mangheni said this training focuses on breeders and social scientists who are working with the Tropical Legume III program – a breeding program funded by Bill and Melinda gates Foundation.

“Here we have nine research teams that are being trained and the focus of the training is to build their capacities to conduct gender-responsive research so that the technologies they generate from their breeding are able to address the priorities and needs of men and women.

It also has a component of seed systems because what they breed has to eventually get out to the communities so that it is utilized by the farmers and other actors in the seed value chain,” the Makerere Don said.

Some of the participants listen to proceedings

She explained that, the teams will be taken through the concepts of gender, gender sensitive research, gender breeding priority setting, how to conduct qualitative and quantitative data in a mixed methods approach, analyze and interpret it so that it is able to feed in national breeding programs of these countries mentioned.

The course participant teams will present the status of their projects i.e., their research questions, progress and any gender-related questions for which they may need answers. Teams that have data will present the gender yield gap case studies which will be interrogated to draw implications for gender-responsive programming.

In her key message, Prof. Mangheni told participants that, the role of GREAT is to create inclusive agricultural systems that are able to address the needs and priorities of men and women. She implored participants to apply what they will have learnt saying, the core value of GREAT is to train for practice.

Zeinabou Ibrahim Drame (R) and other participants listen to proceedings during the training

“It is my call to participants that when they learn, they apply. We don’t want people to learn the skills and leave them in Kampala or here at Makerere... but rather when they get off the planes, they are able to transform the breeding programs and agricultural systems in their countries”, she said.

Background to the GREAT course

The Gender-responsive Researchers Equipped for Agricultural Transformation (GREAT) course is a Cornell University-Makerere University joint certificate program in applied gender training for agricultural research.

It offers skills in gender-responsiveness tailored to agricultural researchers to integrate gender in research along the design, implementation, evaluation, and communication pathway. The focus is on gender training linked to practice and change within institutions and national policies.

The overall objective of the course is to enhance the participants’ capacity to design, conduct, and communicate gender-responsive agricultural research.  For more information, please see www.greatagriculture.org

About the Tropical Legumes-III Project

The Tropical Legumes III project (TL-III) is a major international initiative that seeks to develop and deliver seed of improved cultivars of common bean, cowpea, chickpea and groundnut at scale to small-holders, while also fundamentally strengthening plant breeding programs to generate increased rates of genetic gains.  These plant breeding programs include three in the CGIAR (CIAT, IITA, and ICRISAT), 7 NARS in African countries (Burkina Faso, Ghana, Mali, Nigeria, Ethiopia, Tanzania and Uganda) and one in India in the state of Uttar Pradesh.

TL-III integrates the genomic resources developed in the Tropical Legumes-phase I (TLI) with the applied breeding and seed delivery initiatives of Tropical phase II (TL-II).  TL-III puts increased emphasis on improving the national breeding and seed delivery programs through a structured improvement process.  More information can be found here: http://tropicallegumes.icrisat.org/

Please follow @MakCAES on twitter and the hashtag #GREATTLIIICourse for updates on the training.

Report compiled by;
Jane Anyango,
Principal Communication Officer,
College of Agricultural & Environmental Sciences, CAES
Makerere University.

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