The African Green Revolution Forum (AGRF) 2016 took place in Nairobi, Kenya from 5-9 August. AWARD participated in the week-long event and AWARD’s Director, Dr Wanjiru Kamau-Rutenberg, was the key speaker at one of the first panel sessions where she spoke on, ‘Building Leaders-Looking to the future, Women and Youth in Agriculture’. This side event was hosted by the International Development Research Centre (IDRC). While addressing leadership policies affecting agriculture, she urged policy makers to consider factors that influence both the economy and agriculture in their decisions. “We are at a fork in the road on the decisions we make about growth in agriculture,” she stated.
The forum also offered a platform for one of AWARD’s outstanding pioneer fellows, Dr Sarah Mubiru, a 2008 fellow and a mentor. She was among the panelists at a plenary session hosted by AWARD and the Africa Enterprise Challenge Fund (AECF). She was part of a group of entrepreneurs that discussed ways of championing women and how best to link them to available investment opportunities. Dr Mubiru highlighted her fellowship experience as one of the reasons behind her success as an entrepreneur. “For women entrepreneurs, one needs to have business and leadership skills as well as expert mentoring in order to achieve their business goals. I am grateful to AWARD for equipping me with the skills I needed to help me transition into entrepreneurship,” she stated. “However, will growth in the agricultural sector bring about inclusive growth or will it merely intensify existing structural inequalities that include uneven gender representation and the low ratio of women in decision making positions?”
A colourful gala dinner that was hosted by AWARD and AECF was the highlight of AWARD’s presence at AGRF 2016. During this event, AWARD recognized two of its mentors, Dr Jan Low and Dr Maria Andrade who will be honoured by the 2016 World Food Prize in October in Des Moines, Iowa, in the United States. The two scientists are part of the team that is being recognised for their research on the orange fleshed sweet potato. The orange fleshed sweet potato is rich in vitamin A which provides the much needed boost to the immune system in both children and pregnant women. The AECF Board Chairman, Lord Paul Boateng, congratulated the two scientists on their commendable work in agriculture.
Dr Low emphasised the importance of mentoring research scientists saying it improves communication between them and their audience.”My mentoring experience at AWARD enabled me to understand and communicate better with the farmers and the communities I work with,” she explained. The same sentiments were echoed by Dr Andrade, who will be the first African woman honoured by the World Food Prize.
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