Research That’s Making Results

By Amanda Stone

Last week we reported on the 2010 winners of the African Women in Agricultural Research and Development (AWARD) fellowships. Nairobi’s Business Daily recently highlighted the research efforts of a past AWARD fellow, Mary Anyango Oyunga.

Egerton University lecturer and researcher in sweet potatoes Mary Oyunga. (Photo credit: Muchiri Karanja, Daily Nation)

Oyunga’s research has shown that Orange Fleshed Sweet Potatoes (OFSP) are extremely rich in vitamin A,  which is very commonly deficient in children under five living in sub-Saharan Africa and dangerous, and can cause blindness, diarrheal disease, measles and more.

While it’s crucial to have these findings published in scientific journals, it’s also important that innovations reach the farmers and communities in sub-Sarahan Africa that need them.

“Conducting a study is one important step,” said Oyunga. “But making it real by using the findings as a tool to improve livelihoods of people on the ground is what makes it complete.” How to implement their studies is one of the tools that the AWARD program fellows walk away with. Oyunga is facilitating pilot projects in Kenya to issue 120 vines of OFSP to pregnant women at health clinics to help them combat these diseases in their children.

A recently released ActionAid International report showed that women are responsible for 90 percent of the food grown in Africa, and yet women scientists are still rarely involved in agricultural research or leadership in Africa. To overcome the gender bias, AWARD is investing in Africa’s women scientists, an investment that is sure to pay off by strengthening research, implementation and leadership skills across the continent.

To read more about programs that focus on women in agriculture, see Turning the Catch of the Day into Improved Livelihoods for the Whole Community, Women Farmers: An ‘Untapped Solution’ to Global Hunger, Strengthening Rural Women’s Leadership in Farmer and Producer Organizations, and Women Entrepreneurs: Adding Value.

Amanda Stone is Nourishing the Planet’s Communications Assistant.

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