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Deepening gender responsive agricultural research skills of NARs in Sub-Saharan Africa

While training courses remain a central focus to the Gender-responsive Researchers Equipped for Agricultural Transformation (GREAT) program, towards the end of 2021 GREAT training courses were complemented by a call for research proposals for small grants. In addition to grant funding, GREAT provides mentorship to exemplary GREAT fellows to further deepen the capacity of agricultural researchers to conduct gender responsive and transformative research across Africa and beyond. Through this research opportunity, the teams are applying what they have learned through their participation in GREAT introductory and advanced courses.

“After training on theory, it is important that fellows have a grasp of the practical aspects as well,” said Margaret Mangheni, GREAT co-PI. “These three research clusters are organized around separate thematic areas and  will bring the theory training, research and tool testing in a coordinated research agenda. We have instituted a robust MLE system to track the learnings in the research cluster set up. These will inform further refinement of the GREAT training model for effective gender responsive research skills development.”

GREAT Fellows were invited to develop research proposals in 2021, and five teams, or research clusters, were selected and awarded funding to conduct their research in Ghana, Uganda, Nigeria and Zimbabwe. The focus for each research cluster are summarized below:

  • The Women’s Empowerment, Masculinities & Social Norms research cluster is conducting research in Uganda on how women’s empowerment and masculinities have been conceptualized in agriculture, research and development interventions. This team is also looking at what social and gender norms influence women’s empowerment and disempowerment in the agri-food system in Uganda. This team is led by researchers at Makerere University: Margaret Najjingo Mangheni, Amon Mwiine, Losira Nasirumbi Sanya, Richard Miiro; and GREAT fellows Grace Nanyonjo, Brenda Nakyewa, Martha Busingye, Fred Shimali,  and Stephen Angudubo.
  • Another research cluster in Uganda is Piloting the G+ Tools in the Groundnut Value Chain. The research team is working on documenting the gendered trait preferences along the groundnut value chain and developing a groundnut product profile using the G+ tool. This research is being conducted by the National Semi-Arid Resources Research Institute (NaSARRI) in Uganda: Eileen Nchanji, David Okello Kalule, Stephen Angudubo, Bernard Sakyiamah, Hellen Opie and Esuma Williams.
  • Similar to the Uganda groundnut research cluster, in Ghana another research team is Piloting the G + Tools for the Rice Value Chain in Ghana. This team aims to develop a product profile for rice using the G+ tools and will compare this against an earlier rice product profile that also took the needs of women into consideration. This research is being conducted by the CSIR Crops Research Institute: Maxwell Asante, Bright Asante, Benedicta Frimpong, Negussie Zenna and Gaudiose Mujawamariya.
  • A research cluster in Nigeria is looking at Stressors and Resilience within the Cassava Value Chain in Imo, Osun and Benue states. This research, conducted by the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) in Nigeria and the National Root Crops Research Institute (NRCRI), is looking at what attributes make cassava a resilience crop, which varieties are meeting the resilience demands of cassava farmers, and what varieties or traits are more preferred. This research is led by: Tessy Madu, Obaiya Utoblo, Bello Abolore, Benjamin Okoye, Olamide Olaosebikan and Nathaniel Tegbe.
  • A research cluster in Zimbabwe is Exploring the Trade-offs and Synergies between Gender Equality and Productivity. This team led by the Crop Breeding Institute in Zimbabwe is exploring the trade offs that bean breeding programs may make when segmenting for different priorities (e.g. gender equality, nutrition, trade/commercialization, food security and poverty). The specific trade-offs this team is exploring is how customer profiles may differ depending on the abovementioned priorities and the cost implications of these for breeding programs. This research is led by: Eileen Nchanji, Shylet Tsekenedza, Nyarai Chisorochengwe and Freeman Gutsa.

Over the next few months, the teams will continue to receive mentorship and technical support by a team of GREAT trainers from Makerere faculty, Cornell faculty and a postdoc, and CGIAR senior gender experts who will work with the teams to refine their research questions and methodologies, and provide technical support throughout data collection, data analysis and synthesis of findings. The research findings will then be disseminated with the broader agriculture research community in the coming months. Stay tuned for a second part article that will profile some of the researchers leading this work!

About the author

Zenebech Mesfin

Zenebech Mesfin is the project manager for the Gender-responsive Researchers Equipped for Agricultural Transformation (GREAT) program, based out of Cornell University.