Despite contributing 70 per cent in food production, experts say the African woman is still under-represented in areas of research and policymaking, as well as influential leadership positions in agriculture.
By harnessing the potential of female agriculture scientists, Africa will be able to revolutionise farming practices and rescue millions of citizens from recurrent hunger crises.
The African Women in Agricultural Research and Development (Award), a programme funded by the Gates Foundation and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) is seeking to strengthen research and leadership skills of female agriculture scientists to enable them contribute to food security in sub-Sahara Africa.
Award has been strengthening the capacity of African women scientists involved in agricultural research since its inception in 2008.
So far, the programme has benefited 250 women across eleven countries in sub-Saharan Africa.
Female agriculture scientists at both undergraduate and post graduate levels applying for the competitive programme are awarded fellowships based on their intellectual merit, leadership capacity, and the potential of their research work to impact on the lives of smallholder farmers, especially women.
The Award fellows are enlisted in a two-year career development programme focused on mentoring partnerships to boost science, communication and leadership skills.
According to Vicki Wilde, the Award Director, “these talented women are conducting critical agricultural research that is crucial to feed Africa’s people and help mitigate crises like we are seeing in East and Horn of Africa.”
She was speaking during the announcement of the 2011 Award fellowships in Nairobi on Aug. 18th 2011.
Wilde remarked that “food security in Africa is under constant threat and there is need to address the needs of African farmers through access to knowledge, technology and innovations that boost productivity at small holder level.”