Bridging the gender gap in capacity development

Here is the full link to an “Impact Blog” posted by USAID by Anabela Manhica. She discusses her experience as an AWARD fellow and the importance of closing the gender gap in agricultural capacity development activities in Africa. Anabela also highlights her work with orange-fleshed sweetpotato and mentoring with CIP’s Sweetpotato Breeder & Seed Systems Specialist Maria Andrade:

“African Women in Agricultural Research and Development (AWARD) is a professional development program supported by USAID and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation that strengthens the research and leadership skills of African women in agricultural science. As an AWARD Fellow, I am working to improve the livelihoods of those living in my country’s rural communities through the dissemination of agricultural technologies, using innovation platforms for technology adoption in maize and other crops – a method that involves all actors in the value chain – and at the same time testing the use of orange-fleshed sweet potatoes for both humans and livestock. This sweet potato variety helps reduce vitamin A deficiency in children under 5 years old and can improve food security not just in Mozambique, but also throughout sub-Saharan Africa. Its use for livestock can reduce the cost of animal feed, providing additional benefits to smallholder farmers.

Mentoring is also a key component of the AWARD program. While there are many heroes in agriculture in Africa, the person who has inspired me most in my work is Dr. Maria Isabel Andrade, a crop breeder working with the orange-fleshed sweet potato. Dr. Andrade sets an example for researchers like me because she does not stop at plant breeding—she ensures that the developed varieties actually reach smallholder farmers so that the crop’s intended impacts in people’s lives are realized. Through my work, I hope to complement her efforts by diversifying the diets of rural Mozambican communities through the introduction of animal proteins, helping to increase nutrition and fight hunger in the areas of my country that need it the most.”