A study conducted by Makerere University researchers in Iganga and Bugiri districts indicates that disparities still exist regarding access and sustained use of improved crop varieties among women and men. The men still dominate decision making power which negatively impacts on the sustained use and uptake of improved crop varieties in the two districts. Gender transformative approaches that consider the interest and needs of both men and women, are deemed fit for the design and implementation of interventions and ensure voices and aspirations of men and women are considered.
Between 2020–2022, researchers from Makerere University Department of Extension and Innovation Studies with support from Carnegie Corporation of New York under the Auspices of the Directorate of Graduate Research and Training programme of Supporting Early Career Academics through Post-Doctoral training at Makerere University (SECA) undertook a study titled, “Intra-household Gender Dynamics in Uptake of Agricultural Technologies for Sustained livelihoods in Uganda.”
The study was conducted in Nakigo and Nambaale sub-counties in Iganga and Buwunga and Nabukalu sub counties in Bugiri districts. The study areas were selected because of the intensity of interventions by government and non-state agencies in the area aimed at enhancing resilience of the farming systems and increasing agricultural productivity.
The study, aimed to unravel the power dynamics at the household level that influence sustained use of new crop varieties for equitable and sustainable likelihoods in Uganda. The research therefore adopted a gender approach in examining decision making patterns, power relations and negotiation processes at household level and how these influence access to control over new technologies and ultimately sustained use. This was disclosed during the research dissemination workshops conducted on 6th and 7th October 2022 in the study areas that brought together district administrative and technical officers including, production, extension and agricultural officers, district chairpersons, senior production secretaries, farmers and farmer groups, civil society organisations and community-based organisations.
According to the Principal Investigator, Dr. Losira Nasirumbi Sanya, progress towards attaining food security remains a challenge partly due to low use of science and technological innovations developed over time. While sharing the study findings for validation, Dr. Losira explained that the overall objective of the research was to contribute towards promoting sustainable use of new agricultural technologies and innovations through better understanding of the gendered dynamics that enhance access and sustained use as a pathway to transformation of production systems and increasing productivity.
“The specific objectives were to describe the dissemination and use of agricultural technologies in selected districts of Eastern agro-ecological zone of Uganda; analyse the intra-household gender roles and relations in regard to technology access and sustained use within the institution of the household, and quantify the distribution of the decision-making power within dual adult households and how this influences technology uptake and empowerment among women,” she said.
She said data was collected from men and women using survey questionnaires, focus group discussions and in-depth farmer interviews. The findings indicated that farmers were involved in growing at least eight crops, two of the crops purposely for food security, one for cash and the rest for both food and cash. The crops include maize, cassava, beans, sweet potatoes, ground nuts, rice, soybeans, coffee and bananas among others.
The study revealed that in the past five years, men had more access to training on farming and improved seeds from government related experts and NGOs.The study also revealed that though women went to cluster project [ACDP] and accessed improved seed, only a few continued to use such varieties due to several factors.
The study also established that households had joint and individual plots for women and men. Joint farms according to this research were preferred by men and women to promote harmony and reduce domestic violence, ease management, sharing resources and labour, timely planting and due to limited land.
Men, the study found, preferred their own plots to meet their diverse demands since some were polygamous, and wanted to fulfil family obligations. On the other hand, it was found that women preferred individual farms for financial independence, control over their income and the need to ensure food security.
When it came to access to farming resources such as land, fertilizers, herbicides and seeds, the study indicated that men had more access but women were mostly involved in providing farm labour for planting and weeding.
Findings on the intra-household decision making power indicated that 62% of women accorded themselves a high score of having more decision making power than what men scored them in relation to their input to decision dimensions related to asset ownership and use, productive decisions, use of labour (hired and family), marketing, financial time allocation and access to trainings, extension and group membership. However, 29% of the women gave themselves a lower score than their spouses scored them across the different decision dimensions. The study found perfect agreement in the scores assigned by men and women in only 9% of the households. “Decision making power is directly linked to one’s ability to make choice and action on that choice,” said the PI. “A mismatch between actual and perceived empowerment in decision making signals opportunities for creating awareness among farming communities if we are to achieve the intended goal of equitable access and outcomes.”
The study revealed that the disparities in decision making power affected the use of improved technologies and productivity.
“Women with high decision making power (empowered) were more likely able to sustain use of improved varieties than those with lower scores.Those with low decision making power were highly associated with low use of improved varieties. Those with the ability to make decisions and even when closer to extension services were able to grow more improved varieties though high decision making power was negatively associated with the number of improved varieties grown. This illuminates the fact that women’s empowerment in decision making has potential to contribute to closing the gender gap in sustained use thus the need to be more intentional about women’s participation, decision making and agency in development interventions if we are to achieve greater impact in sustained use of agricultural technologies towards better livelihoods,” Dr. Losira explained.
During the dissemination workshop, the District Agricultural Officer, Iganga, Mr. Bazalaki Sully Nantatya said, the research has been of great value and has unearthed the dynamics in the communities in regard to gender relations, decision making and uptake of technologies.
He reported that technology uptake in Iganga district has been good because of the capacity building initiative undertaken by a number of partners and projects both through government and non-state actors.
“This research has revealed that adoption of improved technologies has been embraced which has led to increased yields and farmers are very appreciative. Since the start of this research, we have observed that gender relations have improved among participating households when it comes to working in gardens and decision making and that now a wife and husband have come closer and jointly taking lead in implementing farming activities right from planting to marketing. This has been made possible by the approach adopted in this research of having both spouses involved in all activities. Farmers are also realising the use of improved technologies which they feel must be sustained. As a district, we are thinking of enhancing input delivery system to sustain the new interventions and all these have been revealed during the dissemination workshop which has pointed out where things are working out well and not,” he said
The Agricultural Officer, Nambaale Sub County, Gwahaba Richard said farmers easily take up new technologies especially to increase yields but hardly sustain their use.
“We need to wake up as extension officers and district partners and concentrate on gender issues so that men, women and children at the household level embrace these technologies and work together to sustain them,” he said.
Representing the District Chairperson Iganga, the Vice Chairperson, Ali Mukacha appreciated Makerere University for choosing Iganga as a site for the research saying, the study was in line with the government strategy of modernising agriculture and improving farmers’ livelihoods from a peasantry to middle income earners by the year 2030.
He said Nambaale Sub County has been one of the model sub-counties in the district that has participated in many interventions. He pledged the district support towards any research program in the area.
Rebecca Naigaga, a farmer from Iganga districts appreciated the research.
“I have learnt a lot that a husband and wife need to sit together during the planting season and agree on how to rent land, its size, what crops to plant. Then during harvest, we need to agree on what amount to sell and leave for food and what to sell for fees. The other, I have learnt is that, men have more access to land but as women we can also hire,” she noted.
Elias Mutyaba from Nambaale Agro business appreciated the study for changing his mindset and called upon farmers to adopt modern farming practices.
“This time I have changed my attitude. I was so piteous of myself that I was unemployed but with this workshop, I have learnt that farming is also a business where I can earn money. I call upon my fellow farmers to embrace new varieties and use of fertilisers to improve the yields,” he said.
Stakeholders to work with Academia to strengthen Education & Research in Biodiversity Conservation
On 16th November 2023, national and international stakeholders participated in the kick off workshop hosted at Makerere University to further consolidate various schools of thought aimed at producing a holistic and relevant graduate student equipped with practical skills, research and problem solving abilities aligned to Sustainable Development Goals.
The blended kick off workshop, which brought on board the academia, researchers, private sector, civil society, business community and graduate students set the pace for the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) Partnership Project titled: Strengthening Education and Research Capacity for Enhancing Biodiversity Conservation and Sustainable Natural Resources Use.”
Expected to benefit over 350 graduate students and 20 members of staff, the SDG Partnership project that will be implemented by Makerere University (Mak) through the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences (CAES) in collaboration with Rhine-Waal University of Applied Sciences (HSRW), and Central University of Technology (CUT) is funded by the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD).
Welcoming the stakeholders to the kick off workshop, the research project team represented by Prof. John Tabuti from Makerere University and Ms Nele Vahrenhorst from Rhine Waal University of Applied Sciences highlighted that the project seeks to contribute to the following SDGs:
- Poverty Eradication (SDG 1), Zero Hunger (SDG 2), Quality Education (SDG 4), Economic Growth (SDG 8), promoting sustainable consumption and production through developing business opportunities in natural resources use (SDG 12), Climate action through better management technologies and protection on natural resources and ecosystems reducing carbon emissions (SDG 13), as well as protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably managed forests, combat desertification and halt reverse land degradation and halt bio diversity loss (SDG 15).
Prof. Tabuti stated that the mode of delivery will prioritise the student using an approach referred to as ‘Student-centred learning.”
The main objective of the project is to enhance SDG research and teaching through a strong North-South-South partnership between HSRW, Mak, and CUT, so as to prepare graduate students for the societal challenges ahead, and the requirements of the job market. The SDG project partnership will ensure that university graduates are highly equipped with the necessary competencies to develop appropriate resource management responses, and implement optimum biodiversity conservation strategies as well as dealing with dynamic and complex business problems. The project will address the issue of environmental degradation hence poverty reduction, food insecurity, natural resource depletion, and climate change.
The project will focus on mainly Uganda, being the most bio-diverse country in Sub-Saharan Africa, with over 70% of its population relying on agriculture and use of natural resources. In addition, the loss of substantial parts of the natural habitat used in infrastructure development and extension is a major issue of concern. The research project states the urgent need to encourage the youths and students to foster their passion for SDGs premised on the rapid population growth in Uganda, with 50% of the population being under 16 years old.
Officially opening the kick off workshop for the SDG partnership project, the Vice Chancellor of Makerere University, Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe, represented by Associate Prof. Robert Wamala from the Directorate of Research and Graduate Training commended the physical and online participants for accepting to engage in this highly interactive workshop. He further underscored the need to conduct research aligned to the SDGs, national development goals, and global challenges.
The Vice Chancellor pointed out that biodiversity, despite sustaining the planet, faces unprecedented challenges including: Climate change, habitat loss, pollution, and unsustainable resource use. He highlighted education and research as the most formidable tools in addressing these challenges. He noted the role played by Makerere University through its 5-year Strategic Plan that aligns with the National Development Plan III (2020/21-2024/25), by contributing to our transformation into a “research-led” institution with a multi-faceted research agenda and enhanced engagement with industry players.
Associate Professor Robert Wamala concluded by informing the audience that DAAD has been instrumental in his career growth, having sponsored both his Masters’ and PhD studies. Currently serving as Deputy Director (Research Innovations and Partnerships) at Makerere University, he applauded DAAD for supporting research and capacity building programmes at Makerere University.
According to the Acting Head, Department of Environmental Management at Makerere University, Associate Professor Vincent Muwanika, the project will support practical training of students on problem identification, and staff in identifying and publishing local cases that are key in enhancing growth, not only at Makerere University but also in the private sector.
Associate Prof. Muwanika observed that the project’s alignment with SDG 15 will be guided by and greatly benefit from partnerships. He noted that partnerships are key in enabling us share and cross fertilize academic ideas and experiences, a feat that has kept Makerere University among top-tier research institutions.
Highlighting the importance of policies in churning out relevant products, Associate Prof. Muwanika commended the Vice Chancellor of Makerere University-Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe for spearheading and overseeing policies and programmes that recognize, incentivize, and promote partnerships with industry, people and institutions outside Makerere University.
To further onboard the stakeholders, the project team leads namely Prof. John Tabuti and Ms Nele Vahrenhorst specified that the main activities of the project would include: improving the teaching material on courses that assemble natural resources for use, socio-ecological issues, data analysis, genetics, entrepreneurship, and sustainable tourism. The project will focus on capacity building of teaching and research staff on various methods, develop case studies on sustainable natural resources use, develop networks with non-academic actors, enhance student mobility to strengthen international perspectives, as well as promote inter-country inter-disciplinary learning exchange, incorporate higher education management, internationalization, digitalization as well as monitoring and evaluation.
Prof. Tabuti advocated for a strong stakeholder engagement for content development, research undertakings and case studies. “We have brought you on board because you are key people in the field. You are going to play an instrumental role in the development of case studies. Stakeholders will work with the academic staff to develop the content and teach our students,” said Prof. Tabuti.
In a highly interactive session involving a plenary and group sessions, the stakeholders contributed to the discussion on their needs and expectations regarding the graduate competencies and skills in biodiversity conservation and sustainable natural resources.
Matters arising from the stakeholder workshop:
- With regard to the kind of graduates’ employers would wish to have, participants presented a number of qualities including: good communication skills, practical orientation, humility, openness to diversity, readiness to learn and unlearn, ability to adopt to work ethics, problem solving skills, articulateness, confidence with ability to collaborate, design thinking mindset, and innovativeness.
- In response to a question on how the partnership with stakeholders to support teaching and research shall be made possible, the participants presented proposals including: Identification of case studies linking to the lecture to be delivered, identification of key stakeholders, stakeholder engagement, identification of valid course content, design access and agreement on methodological approach to be used during the teaching and learning process, compilation of issues to be addressed before they are presented, design of a working document that can guide who does what, coming up with a team to develop a framework for developing the curricular.
- Responses to a question on how partners can collaborate in development of case studies included: contribution of knowledge to case study development, establishment of linkages with the community, identification of research gaps, sharing of available resources in public domain, documentation of intellectual property rights, collaboration in teaching and training of students, provision of internship opportunities, giving notifications for advance preparation.
During the presentations, stakeholders indicated the readiness to partner with Makerere University to contribute to the development of case studies and content production for lectures and community outreach.
Closing the kick off workshop, Prof. Tabuti conveyed his gratitude to Makerere University management for supporting the project. He acknowledged Ms Ritah Namisango, the Principal Public Relations Officer of Makerere University for moderating the workshop. He thanked Dr. Dorothy Nampanziira, Ms Ritah Namisango, Ms Aziidah Namatovu and Dr. Godfrey Mayende for the excellent coordination of activities leading to the successful hosting of the workshop. He also thanked the physical and online participants for actively contributing to the stakeholders’ workshop.
Dr. Bernard Obaa Appointed Ag. Head, CAES Department of Extension & Innovation Studies
Makerere University Council has appointed Dr Bernard Obaa Acting Head, Department of Extension and Innovation Studies, College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences (CAES). Dr Obaa takes on from Prof. Nelson Turyahabwe who has held the position for the last four years starting 2nd November 2019. Dr. Obaa is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Extension and Innovation Studies at CAES. He holds a PhD in Rural Sociology (Food systems, Agriculture and Environment and Social Change and Development) from Iowa State University, USA, and an MSc in Agricultural Extension and Education from Makerere University.
During the official handover ceremony held on 13th November 2023 at CAES, the Principal, Prof. Gorettie Nabanoga appreciated the outgoing Head for his contribution. She congratulated the new Head and implored him to further strengthen the Department in line with the new strategic direction intended to transform Makerere into a research-led University, with more innovations to foster the country’s development.
In Prof. Turyahabwe’s four-year term of office, the Department of Extension and Innovation Studies has continuously registered improvement in the performance of students on the Bachelor of Agricultural and Rural Innovations programme. There has also been increased enrolment of students into the Masters of Science in Agricultural and Extension Education and PhD in Agricultural and Rural Innovations (PARI). Other achievements include; improvement in the completion rate of PARI students with the highest number of PhD students at CAES being from PARI. The Department has also reviewed curriculum for several programmes to meet the requirements of the Uganda National Council for Higher Education and Makerere University. These include; the Master of Science in Agricultural Extension and Education that has been renamed Master of Science in Agricultural Extension and Rural Innovation and approved by Senate. Both the Bachelor of Agriculture and Rural Innovation (Internal- BARI) and the Bachelor of Agriculture and Rural Innovation (External – BAXI) were reviewed and renamed Bachelor of Agricultural Extension and Rural Innovation.
The Department staff have won several research grants namely: Enhancing the Capacity of Faculty and Students on the Bachelor of Agricultural and Rural Innovation, External Degree Programme for E-Learning at Makerere University; the CAES Innovation Scholars Programme run in collaboration with Michigan State University’s (MSU) Borlaug Higher Education for Agriculture Research and Development (BHEARD) with support from MSU’s Global Centre for Food Systems Innovation. Other projects include; Diversity and Inclusion in Leadership Training between Makerere University and MSU’s African Studies Centre and Michigan Fellows Agribusiness Initiative (MFAI), supported by the Alliance African Partnership (AAP); and SECA (2019-2021) with support from Carnegie Cooperation of New York titled – Strengthening academic supervision and mentorship for enhanced completion rates of graduate students in the Department of Extension and Innovation Studies. There is also an ongoing project – Enhancing the Capacity of the Department of Extension and Innovation Studies to Facilitate E-learning and research through installation of the state of the art video conferencing system- Under consolidating Early Career Academic Programme (CECAP) at Makerere University. It is supported by Carnegie Cooperation of New York.
In his remarks, the outgoing Head, Prof. Nelson Turyahabwe appreciated the College leadership and staff, as well as programme coordinators for the support extended to him during his term of office. He also appreciated the incoming Head, Dr Bernard Obaa for accepting to take on the leadership of the Department, and pledged continued support to further strengthen the Department. Similarly, Dr Obaa appreciated Prof. Turyahabwe for his outstanding contribution towards the development of the Department and committed to build on the achievements registered thus far.
The handover ceremony was witnessed by the Dean, School of Agricultural Sciences, Dr John Baptist Tumuhairwe; the College Human Resource Office, Ms. Hawa Harriet; the representative from the Directorate of Internal Audit, Mr. Aggrey Luwuliza; and members of staff form the Department.
CAES Launches Graduate Management System
The CAES GRADCARE Management System is envisaged to enhance efficiency in the graduate production process, and to improve the completion rate in the stipulated time to 70%.
The CAES GRADCARE Management System
The College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences (CAES) has developed an online system to enhance efficiency of graduate management processes. The CAES GRADCARE Management System (http://gradcare.caes.mak.ac.ug/) was developed by a team of experts from the Directorate for ICT Support (DICTS), Makerere University led by Mr. Joshua Muhumuza and Mr. Arthur Opio. The system will enhance efficiency by creating a seamless workflow that improves supervision, reduces the lead time and costs for thesis examination, and yields meaningful data for decision making and a repository for graduate research. By doing so, CAES will unclog the production pipeline of graduate students and firmly contribute to the research-led agenda as stipulated in the 2020-2030 Strategic Plan of Makerere University.
The CAES GRADCARE Management System was officially launched by Makerere University Deputy Vice Chancellor in charge of Academic Affairs (DVCAA) represented the Director, Directorate of Research and Graduate Training (DRGT), Prof. Edward Bbaale at the College premises on 17th October 2023.
In his remarks, the DVCAA commended the CAES Management for the initiative. He described CAES GRADCARE as a remarkable management system for graduate studies that will support and streamline the path to timely completion. “This system represents a significant leap forward in unlocking the potential of graduate training at Makerere University. With CAES-GRADCARE, we now have the ability to monitor the progress of our graduate students seamlessly, from supervision and thesis submission to examination. This is a commendable achievement that will eliminate the complexities of paper-based reporting and enhance the efficiency of our graduate training processes. It is also a significant step forward in our quest to become a research-led and innovation-driven institution.” The DVCAA further noted that the System will aid the postgraduate department in planning their educational activities and facilitate improved data exchange between administrators and students. “To maximize utility of this system, it is essential to establish links with other existing systems, such as RIMS by DRGT and ACMIS for the academic registrar’s department. These linkages will ensure that information flows smoothly, eliminating conflicts or discrepancies.”
On behalf of DRGT, Prof. Bbaale expressed commitment to reviewing the institutional graduate strategy and policy, prioritizing internationalization through bilateral agreements with global partners, digitizing administrative processes, and encouraging flexible graduate training approaches such as modular, weekend, and online/blended programmes. “Our goal is to enhance resource mobilization, both internally and externally, and work towards international programme accreditation.”
The launch event was also graced by the Director, Quality Assurance at Makerere University, Dr Cyprian Misinde who commended CAES for developing the System. “The CAES GRADCARE Management System will make the students more productive and this will result into more and quality research output leading to improved ranking of the University.”
Highlighting the challenges that most colleges grapple with in managing graduate production processes, the Principal of CAES, Prof. Gorettie Nabanoga said the CAES GRADCARE Management System is going to be a game changer in the training of graduate students.“In developing the CAES GRADCARE Management System, our target is to ensure we have a flawless graduate management process. With the system, no one will be left behind. Our target is to ensure no student spends more than the stipulated time on a programme.” The Principal also noted that the College was working towards increasing graduate students’ enrolment to 40 percent. She appreciated the DICTS for supporting the development of the GRADCARE System.
The Deputy Principal of CAES, also lead supervisor of the GRADCARE Management System, Prof. Yazhidi Bamutaze decried the continued delays in completion, noting that the backlog was clogging the system. “With the CAES GRADCARE System, all this is expected to change. There will be regular monitoring of progress on the side of the students and supervisors from the time of submission of the proposal to the time of examining the thesis. This will foster timely completion. As a College, we remain committed to take good care of our students and help them achieve their aspirations and goals.”
Following the development of the CAES GRADCARE Management System, the Deputy Principal noted that next step would be to retool and mentor staff on graduate students’ supervision. The College also intends to initiate formal platforms for regular interactions with graduate students at department, school and college level, improve operations of the graduate supervision and examination tracking system, and operationalize the graduate student timeline –Almanac.
How the system works
Step 1 – Proposal review
This feature starts when a registered student signs into the system and uploads their project proposal. The proposal is then reviewed by the student’s supervisors and thereafter endorsed. It is then moved to the level of Head of Department who appoints a review committee to handle the proposal. Finally the proposal is reviewed and endorsed by the head of the committee.
Step 2 – Intent submission
This feature starts by the student upon signing in, downloads the intent form from the system, reviews and fills it. The student then uploads the filled intent form to the system. This form is then reviewed by the student’s supervisors who then endorse it. It is then moved to the Dean who endorses it as well. The Dean then shortlists Examiners for the student who are sent for appointment by the Principal.
Step 3 – Thesis
This process starts when a student uploads their thesis onto the system. This is then reviewed and approved by the supervisors. The thesis then moves to the Head of Department who also reviews and endorses it. The Dean then reviews and endorses the thesis. The Examiner who was appointed to review the thesis does so and sends back comments if any.
Step 4 – Examiner appointments
The system allows the admin/Principal to appoint examiners for specific students as recommended by the Dean. The system allows the Head of Department to appoint a committee to review a student proposal.
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