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AWARD Launches GRARD Initiative

On Thursday, July 11, 2017, AWARD convened leaders from over 30 national agricultural research and development (ARD) organizations to launch Gender Responsive Agricultural Research and Development (GRARD), an initiative focused on delivering gender-responsive agricultural research and innovations that meet the needs and priorities of a diversity of both African women and men across the entire agricultural value chain.

"As part of AWARD’s strategic expansion, that arose from asking ourselves hard questions—how can AWARD better position itself to add values to institutions and strengthen their capacities to deliver on their already existing mandates—AWARD has had to restructure our mandate to better align itself with the African ARD sector. This restructuring has led to what we’ve now nicknamed as ‘AWARD 3.0’,” noted AWARD’s Director Dr. Wanjiru Kamau-Rutenberg as she explained AWARD’s journey thus far and the possible future for the program during her remarks. AWARD’s 2017- 2022 strategy includes four programmatic activities: the AWARD Fellowship; Gender in Agribusiness Investments for Africa (GAIA) initiative; Gender Responsive Agricultural Research and Development (GRARD); and the Training initiative.

Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA)’s Executive Director Dr. Yemi Akinbamijo delivered the keynote address in which he expressed his excitement at the launch of GRARD and FARA’s support to AWARD. "We at FARA agree with the foregoing AWARD core values, and we fully support its notion that gender responsiveness has the potential to enhance agricultural research for Africa’s sustained and inclusive economic growth.  This is because gender responsiveness offers a powerful tool through which agricultural researchers can be intentional in addressing the constraints of African farmers at the margins, especially women and youth."

As part of kick-starting GRARD, AWARD stakeholders and partners in African ARD organizations across the continent participated in a workshop to layout next steps for GRARD and solidify the commitments to implementing GRARD in each institution. AWARD’s first steps to grow the capacity for gender-responsive agricultural research institutions through GRARD will support African research institutions to build and effectively leverage the talents of more diverse and inclusive teams. AWARD will leverage its experience and lessons learned from the Fellowship program, and support institutions to recruit, retain, develop, and unleash the talents of diverse teams. AWARD believes this approach holds transformative potential for strengthening agricultural research in support of Africa’s sustained and inclusive economic growth.

AWARD Steering Committee Vice Chair Dr. Sanni Lateef, who was present at the meeting, is enthusiastic at the prospect of incorporating and championing gender responsiveness across Africa’s agricultural value chains. "Africa is in an era where agribusiness and investment opportunities are being promoted in the agricultural sector. However, it is unfortunate that when one looks at the actors along the nodes, we have male-dominated agricultural value chains. Both men and especially women need to be present to cater to the issue of adding value to agricultural produce. Hence it is important to have gender-responsive agricultural research outputs that are friendly to entice women to invest more in agriculture. This is the essence of launching and rolling-out GRARD!”