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Two former AWARD mentors receive prestigious World Food Prize

(From L-R) Dorothy Mukhebi, AWARD’s Deputy Director, Fellowships and Institutional Partnerships, Dr. Wanjiru Kamau-Rutenberg, AWARD's Exectuive Director, Dr. Maria Andrade and Dr. Jan Low at World Agroforestry Centre.

NAIROBI, Kenya - Two former AWARD mentors, Dr. Maria Andrade (Mozambique) and Dr. Jan Low (United States) of the International Potato Center, were recently awarded the 2016 World Food Prize for their pioneering work developing the orange-fleshed sweet potato. Together with their counterpart, Dr. Robert Mwanga of Uganda and Howarth Bouis whose research organization Harvest Plus works on “biofortification” of crops they were recognised for the development and implementation of biofortification, breeding critical vitamins and micronutrients into staple crops, dramatically reducing “hidden hunger” for millions.

Low and Andrade, 2009 and 2010 AWARD Mentors respectively, visited the AWARD offices in Nairobi and were received by Executive Director Dr. Wanjiru Kamau-Rutenberg who called them an inspiration to African women, especially those in agriculture. “Their win sends a strong message about nutrition and gender, and illustrates how crucial women scientists are in the fight to combat hunger.”

The scientists were also welcomed by Dorothy Mukhebi, AWARD’s Deputy Director, Fellowships and Institutional Partnerships, who congratulated them for winning “the Oscars of agriculture.”

Dr. Andrade said that it takes hard work, persistence and passion to achieve one’s goals. “Change distracts people; focus on your work and make it beneficial to the consumers. Then keep moving forward and change what you can,” she said. She stressed that mentoring is an essential tool in one’s career advancement, and applauded AWARD for making women stand out and find their voices, adding that she too, as a mentor, greatly benefited from the mentorship programme.

Dr. Low agreed, saying, “mentorship builds a network that enables individuals to support each other for ages. Mentoring helps you have fun with your careers and stay connected with your friends and colleagues.”  She also urged the youth and women to engage in agricultural subjects such as agronomy to bridge the alarming age gap that exists in agriculture and research science.