Among the important staple food crops, cassava is nothing short of a powerhouse. Because of it, smallholder farmers have been able to feed their families and control domestic demands through income from cassava production. Though many obstacles stand in the way of most cassava producers in West Africa, there is a great need to overcome the fear of risk in order to increase production. It is particularly important to train individuals to create a positive future for cassava production and processing.
My Ph.D. journey has been an eye opener to gender-responsive research. As a Doctoral student in Agricultural and Rural Innovation at Makerere University, my research has been aimed at understanding the social dynamics in Banana Technology Development (BTD) and implications for uptake. Results of the exploratory study during my research indicated that the BTD process was largely gender “blind” and/or “neutral”; although efforts were being taken to reach men and women farmers, little was being done to benefit and empower women.
Achieving greater parity among women and men in sub-Saharan Africa so they more equally share the benefits of agricultural research is the goal of an initiative announced today, on International Women’s Day, in the spirit of the Pledge for Parity campaign.
In early February 2016, GREAT held its inception meeting and theme 1 course planning meeting in Kampala, Uganda, bringing together gender and breeding experts from around the world to launch the project. The meetings marked the first international convening of GREAT since Cornell and Makerere Universities were awarded a $5M grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to begin the project, which equips researchers to create more inclusive and effective agricultural systems by addressing the priorities of both women and men in sub-Saharan Africa.