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Tuesday, February 17, 2015

AWARD Fellows 2015: 3 Nigerians among top 10 top African women agricultural scientists

Three Nigerian agro-scientists have been selected among top 10 fellows listed in the 70-people honoured at the African Women in Agricultural Research and Development (AWARD) 2015, reports NaijaAgroNet.

A press statement made available to NaijaAgroNet by the Communications Assistant at AWARD, Judith Olang, hinted that Messrs Ngozi Edoh, Catherine Nwokwu and Juliana Amaka Ugwu.

NaijaAgroNet reports that the trio were among participants who had earlier relationship with AWARD as mentees, but now has grown to make the fellowship programme.

For Ngozi Edoh, a Research Scientist at the National Root Crops Research Institute Umudike in Abia State is currently focused on biosafety research and genetic improvement of root and tuber crops.

Catherine Nwokwu, NaijaAgroNet gathered is currently a post-graduate student at Ebonyi State University, Abakaliki. 

Her vision for agricultural research and development is to develop at least five high yielding and drought tolerant rice varieties.

Equally, Juliana Amaka Ugwu, an entomologist, is also a former AWARD junior mentee, who is on a mission to develop ecological and environmentally friendly approaches to sustainable production of fruits and vegetables in Nigeria. Ugwu is currently a lecturer at the Forestry Research Institute of Nigeria.

Also on the list of top 10 is Zambian Belinda Kaninga, who is a soil scientist  on the other hand is developing appropriate soil fertility technologies in order to improve agricultural production and income for smallscale farmers.

Kaninga is an Agricultural Research Officer at the Zambia Agriculture Research institute.A lecturer and researcher at the Eduardo Mondlane University in Maputo, Mozambique, Olivia Narciso Pedro was quoted in a press statement from Africa Press Organisation as saying, “Agricultural research and development in Mozambique is an important tool for increasing production, and consequently reducing household malnutrition and poverty, particularly in children and women.

According to her, “My vision for agriculture-led growth in Mozambique is to design alternatives to mitigate loss of genetic diversity, and ensure conservation of species, while improving household food security.”

This year’s laureates were selected from among an impressive cadre of 1,109 applicants from 11 African countries. These scientists and researchers will benefit from AWARD’s two-year career-development program that is focused on accelerating agricultural gains by strengthening their research and leadership skills.

AWARD Fellowships are granted on the basis of each scientist’s intellectual merit, leadership capacity, and the potential of her work to improve the livelihoods of African smallholder farmers, most of whom are women.

AWARD Fellows share a common vision: they want to translate their research and knowledge into tangible action, tangible action that will benefit smallholder farmers—especially laudable in 2015, the African Union’s Year of Women’s Empowerment and Development towards Africa’s Agenda 2063.

AWARD Director, Wanjiru Kamau-Rutenberg noted that they have a long journey ahead with women still under-represented in agricultural research and higher education in Africa.

“AWARD is at the forefront, working to increase the numbers of professional women at the decision making table in Agricultural Research and Development (ARD) across Africa.  We are committed to Africa's prosperity with this year's cohort of AWARD fellows joining our vibrant Pan- African community that is building the capacity of Africa’s women researchers to contribute to the continent’s food security,” Kamau-Rutenberg said.

Emphasising that they congratulate the 2015 winners of the AWARD Fellowship, noting that this special year, there were empowerment of women in all areas of development and these are being highlighted by the African Union.

“We are proud of the impact these women are making in their different areas, and the contribution that the fellowship will make in fast-tracking their innovation,” Dr. Kamau-Rutenberg said.

According to an AWARD benchmarking study, the majority of those who produce, process, and market Africa’s food are women, but only one in four agricultural researchers is female. Even fewer—one in seven—hold leadership positions in African agricultural research institutions.

In order for African agriculture to become an engine for prosperity and well-being, it is critical to cultivate a new generation of African leaders in food and agriculture, including technically competent, confident, and influential women.

This year’s AWARD laureates represent a wide range of agricultural disciplines and cutting-edge research—from evaluating aquatic pollution, climate smart agricultural practices, aflatoxin mitigation, capacity building and empowerment of rural women, to biotechnology.
+Remmy Nweke (ITRealms) @AWARD2015, @Nigeria @FMARD
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