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By: HIllary Mara, GREAT Graduate Student Assistant and Cornell University Master’s in Public Administration Candidate


After an intensive week covering topics including quantitative and qualitative data analysis, stakeholder engagement, and institutional change, 28 participants concluded Week 2 of the GREAT Roots, Tubers, and Bananas (RTB) training and graduated with a certificate marking their newly acquired skills in gender-responsive research.

Six months ago this group of agricultural researchers from Sub-Sahara Africa first convened in Kampala for Week 1 of the training course. Since then, they have been involved in applying what they have learned in the field on 11 different projects.

At the certificate-granting ceremony on February 17, course participant Robert Kawuki of the National Crops Resources Research Institute (NaCRRI) in Uganda, explained his commitment to advocating for institutional change within his organization. “The first step is to interest my peers in understanding what gender is, and how important it is to our work [at NaCRRI]. The second aspect is trying to ensure that in all activities that we do, we put it first… We are going to try to ensure that any trials that are on-farm will have 50 percent women as hosts. Whenever we have outreach opportunities, it is important to go a step further, to get closer to where the most disadvantaged people are. It’s at those places that the impact will be much bigger.”

The ceremony also included talks by Hale Tufan, co-PI of GREAT, Deborah Rubin, Technical Content Coordinator for GREAT, and two honorable guests also shared their impressions of GREAT and their hopes for its future: Cyprian Ebong from Association for Strengthening Agricultural Research in Eastern and Central Africa (ASARECA) and Bernard Bashaasha, Principal of the College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences at Makerere University, GREAT’s Kampala-based academic partner.

Additionally, two course participants put on a light-hearted skit demonstrating how women’s work is often undervalued in the home as well as in the research community, an issue at the core of gender-responsive training. The participants humorously acted out “traditional” patriarchal household roles and contrasted this to a more equitable and respectful sharing of labor and ideas between men and women.

Throughout the course, participants underwent a professional, and at times, personal transformation, which was reflected in the urgent manner in which these scientists expressed their interest in putting their news skills to use. Taking what they learned from Week 2 of the course, the newly minted GREAT Fellows also expressed a need to refine the field data they collected between Weeks 1 and 2 through further community engagement.

Losira Nasirumbi-Sanya of the National Agriculture Research Organisation (NARO) in Uganda explained that, “With the kind of skills and knowledge I’ve acquired, I am now trying to position myself to become a more gender-responsive researcher at both the planning and impact level…to ensure that at the end of the continuum, we are able to have equitable outcomes. The gender-responsive decisions that are going to be made in implementing these projects do affect these [equitable] outcomes.”

As RTB research teams continue to collect and analyze data, drawing new conclusions about the needs of different socio-economic groups of farmers and rural community members, they will have the opportunity to publish their results in a special upcoming issue of CABI Review, focused on roots, tubers, and bananas research in Sub-Saharan Africa to be published in late 2017.

“As the RTB teams publish and share results, it is expected that their findings will impact other researchers interested in incorporating gender-responsiveness into their scientific research,” said Tufan. “The ultimate goal of this gender-responsive approach is to achieve more equitable outcomes for smallholder farmers in Sub-Sahara Africa.”

Rubin emphasized that this was just the beginning—and that real changes will occur when widely-applied gender-responsive approaches result in more inclusive and effective agricultural systems across Sub-Saharan Africa.

The next course, Gender-Responsive Cereal Breeding, will be held in Kampala, Uganda from 7-16 August, 2017 and 15-19 January, 2018. See for more information and look for the application soon.

For more information on the upcoming issue of CABI, please contact Jaron Porciello at, or visit