Scenes from the first four GREAT courses, spinoff courses for the Peanut Innovation Lab and the Tropical Legume III project, and a Pro-WEAI training course, 2016-2020.
(Photos: Elizabeth Asiimwe, Devon Jenkins amd Chris Knight)


As we start the second half of 2020, it's impossible not to think of how everything we do comes back to community. In the past four years GREAT has worked to build a community, one aimed at changing agricultural research, reminding us that like so much in our world, change happens best when we people come together for a common purpose. GREAT wouldn't be what it is today without the hundreds of fellows, trainers, mentors and thought leaders who've come together to forge something new.

In part it's this realization that makes the preset fragmentation and social distancing so striking, and so difficult, for so many of us. But like anything worth doing, we won't let up when things get difficult - rather, we'll work harder, and smarter, to accomplish our goals. The global Covid-19 pandemic shines a bright spotlight on the inequities that exist throughout our world, and calls on us as agricultural researchers to play our part in helping build a more equitable, just, and healthier planet, for all. It calls on us to double down on our efforts.

While the pandemic has led to short-term changes in what we do - including postponing our Theme 5 course and a planned custom course for IITA in Nigeria - we're also moving forward with exciting developments, including creating online training modules for the Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Crop Improvement, exploring online sensitization delivery for other projects and institutions, putting together a training manual to detail the GREAT approach, and preparing for a second phase of GREAT, with new collaborations and new channels for growing our impact within the agricultural research community.

Throughout all the challenges and changes of the times, we remain steadfastly committed to our vision, "to equip researchers to create more inclusive and effective agricultural systems by addressing the priorities of both women and men in sub-Saharan Africa."

And we're so glad to have you with us on this journey of change.

With gratitude,
Margaret Mangheni and Hale Tufan
GREAT Co-Principal Investigators
In the News
The critical role of women in avoiding a Covid-19 "food pandemic" in sub-Saharan Africa

By Gaudiose Mujawamariya, Rice Value Chain Expert and Gender Focal Point, AfricaRice, Madagascar / GREAT Theme 2 Fellow

As infections with Covid-19 appear to be intensifying in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), fears of severe food shortages have prompted experts to warn that the region may be "on the brink of a hunger pandemic." Efforts are intensifying to rally a major global response.

But averting what some experts believe could be a food crisis of immense proportions requires paying close attention to an often overlooked feature of food security in the region: African women play a large and growing role in all aspects of the region's food systems-whether it's growing crops and raising livestock, selling and purchasing food in local markets, or dealing with the nutritional needs of their households.

African women often assume this burden while laboring with key disadvantages due to long-standing gender roles that can limit their access to economic resources-both within their households and communities. To be effective, any intervention to avert a food crisis caused by the pandemic will need to navigate a fraught terrain of gender inequality-and not just in the interest of social justice. Women are critical to feeding all Africans. The more they suffer, the more the continent will suffer. Continue reading on the CGIAR Gender Platform blog...

New on Medium
At its heart, the GREAT project challenges us to see the world differently, and to think beyond our disciplinary boundaries. In that spirit, we've launched a new presence on, an online communications platform that will allow us to explore a more diverse set of issues, and how these inform our work as researchers. We'll share our stories in each newsletter, and encourage you to join the conversation as well, by following us: If you'd like to write or co-write a piece for Medium, let us know!
From Boko Haram to COVID-19: Creating equitable farming systems in times of crisis

A discussion with Nigerian wheat breeder Kachalla Kyari Mala, Lake Chad Research Institute, Agricultural Research Council of Nigeria / GREAT Theme 2 Fellow. By Chris Knight, Cornell University.

In Northeast Nigeria, where agriculture forms the backbone of rural communities and livelihoods, Boko Haram has forced millions of men and women to flee their homes, taking refuge in crowded settlements on the outskirts of the region's largest cities and towns, and leaving behind not just their homes, but their ways of life.

In the region's largest city, Maiduguri, an estimated 130,000 Internally Displaced People (IDP) have settled into urban and peri-urban IDP camps - part of over 1.4 million displaced people residing in camps throughout Borno State alone.

Many in the camps are farmers by profession, cut off from their lands and communities, and unsure of when they will be able to return home. Along with the cramped quarters, they share an eagerness to get back to their fields and earn a living again. Yet even in these dire circumstances, a program is helping displaced Nigerian farmers create income opportunities and plan for the future by providing gender-responsive training, education about best agronomic practices, access to land and seed, and marketing opportunities. 

"The people in the IDP camps, most of them are farmers. What they know is farming. This is their business," explains Maiduguri-based researcher Kachalla Kyari Mala, a wheat breeder at the  Lake Chad Research Institute (LCRI), part of the Agricultural Research Council Of Nigeria.

Kachalla's project, Gendered-based Opportunities and Constraints for Wheat Production in Internally Displaced Person's (IDPs) Camps, was designed "to improve the livelihood of IDP's with equity and equal opportunities between women and men wheat farmers in relation to access and control over assets, inputs and benefits including wheat technologies."  Continue reading on Medium...

Covid-19 Resources
While countries around the world rapidly adapt to the spreading novel coronavirus, norms of work, research and even basic social interactions are thrown into disarray. How can researchers and research programs adapt? What does this mean for field research in general, and for gender-responsive approaches specifically? We've collected a short list of resources to help you navigate this new time.
New publications from the GREAT CoP and Beyond
Did you know that GREAT hosts a curated collection of key resources from the CoP and beyond on our free Zotero group? Signing up for a free account gives access to all available full-text PDFs, though anyone can browse the full list, and view all the metadata:
Authors listed in bold are part of the GREAT CoP.
'An interdisciplinary and participatory methodology to improve user acceptability of root, tuber and banana varieties'

Forsythe, L., Tufan, H., Bouniol, A., Kleih, U., & Fliedel, GInternational Journal of Food Science & Technology . Access the article on the GREAT CoP Zotero group.

Breeding programmes for root, tuber and banana (RTB) crops have traditionally considered consumer demand for quality characteristics low priority against other considerations such as yield and disease resistance. This has contributed to low levels of adoption of new varieties and its potential benefits. To address these challenges, an interdisciplinary five-step methodology was developed to identify demand for quality characteristics among diverse user groups along the food chain. The methodology includes an evidence review, consultations with key informants and rural communities, processing diagnosis with experienced processors, and consumer testing in urban and rural areas. Quality characteristics are then prioritised into a Food Product Profile by user group to inform further work of biochemists and breeders in developing improved selection tools. This initiative presents a new basis to understand consumer preferences for RTB crops. The methodology is currently being applied in projects in sub-Saharan Africa and is applicable globally.

'Gender dynamics in banana seed systems and impact on banana bunchy top disease recovery in Cameroon'

Nkengla-Asi, L., Omondi, A. B., Che Simo, V., Assam, E., Ngatat, S., & Boonabaana, B. (2020).  Outlook on Agriculture. Access the article on the GREAT CoP Zotero group.

Enhancing opportunities for women and men in banana production is vital for promoting gender equity in sub-Saharan Africa. This study investigated the gendered differences in access to and decision-making over banana production resources and services in banana bunchy top disease affected areas in Cameroon. A mixed methods approach was used, comprising an intra-household survey (n = 109 households). Six sex disaggregated focus group discussions and key informant interviews were organized to collect primary data in three communities in Ambam District in Southern Cameroon. These data were used to compare men and women in resource access and production within households and villages. Men had greater say in decision-making over productive resources and information services even when women were more involved in actual seed and site selection. Planting materials were mainly sourced from old fields although men were more likely to buy banana seeds than women farmers. In practical terms, access to and decision-making over production resources and services by women in the banana seed systems is vital for equitable outcomes. Disease pressure on banana production experienced in southern Cameroon may influence gendered access to resources upsetting resource access equity. In theoretical terms, the study reveals dimensions of gender linked differences in resource control even where participation was evident. Thus, it indicates the need for in-depth understanding of power and social relations within households and the communities. This study reveals the nexus of disease challenge and resource access in banana systems. The study will be of interest to development practitioners, researchers and extension agents.

'The role of variety attributes in the uptake of new hybrid bananas among smallholder rural farmers in central Uganda '

Nasirumbi Sanya, L., Sseguya, H., Kyazze, F.B., Diiro, G.M. & Nakazi, F. Agriculture & Food Security (2020). Access the article on the GREAT CoP Zotero group.

While advances in agricultural research and development have led to generation of improved new cooking hybrid banana varieties (HBVs) with enhanced yield potential to restore production levels, these have been received with mixed feelings on production and consumption attributes among the farming communities in Uganda. Some farmers prefer HBVs that are comparable to their local varieties in terms of consumption attributes such as soft food, color when cooked, flavor and taste while others prefer high-yielding HBVs to produce surplus output for sale. The study findings provide insights into the need for agricultural research and development initiatives to target the development of banana varieties with multi-traits that meet end-users' preferences and needs. Facilitating the establishment of multi-actor platforms that bring together the different actors to share information and learn might be useful in increasing the intensity of HBVs adoption. 

'Gender and Trait Preferences for Banana Cultivation and Use in Sub-Saharan Africa: A Literature Review '

Marimo, P., Caron, C., Van den Bergh, I., Crichton, R., Weltzien, E., Ortiz, R. and Tumuhimbise, R. Economic Botany (2020). Access the article on the GREAT CoP Zotero group.

Understanding trait preferences of different actors in the banana value chain may facilitate the selection and adoption of new cultivars. We systematically reviewed the scholarly and gray literature on banana trait preferences, with specific attention to studies that document gender-differentiated traits. Of 44 publications reviewed, only four reported gender-specific trait preferences, indicating a significant gap in the literature. The review found that banana farmers, irrespective of gender, value similar characteristics that are related to production constraints, income enhancement, consumption, and cultural or ritual uses. Farmers (as producers, processors, and consumers) often prefer traditional cultivars because of their superior consumption attributes, even if new cultivars have better agronomic and host plant resistance characteristics. Potential differences between trait preferences of farmers and other actors in the value chain should be accounted for to enhance marketing potential. Gender-specific research along the banana value chain and engaging users at the initial stages of breeding can ensure that new cultivars are acceptable to users and may improve adoption. Interdisciplinary teamwork is essential for an efficient and effective breeding program.

'Gender Topics on Potato Research and Development '

Mudege N.N., Sarapura Escobar S., Polar V. (2020) In: Campos H., Ortiz O. (eds) The Potato Crop. Springer, Cham.  Access the chapter on the GREAT CoP Zotero group.

Sustainable Development Goals 5 calls for addressing gender equality and women empowerment by, among other things, eliminating all forms of discrimination against women. At CIP we interpret this to mean strengthening the use of gender approaches in research and ensuring that research products are responsive to the needs of men and women. This chapter reviews lessons learnt over the years on integrating gender into potato research and development. The chapter discusses how gender has been approached in five key themes in potato research, namely (1) conserving and accessing genetic resources, (2) genetics and crop improvement, (3) managing priority pests and disease, (4) access to seed (seed flows and networks), and (5) marketing, postharvest processing and utilization. This chapter discusses how gender relations that favor men influence women's participation in and their ability to benefit from potato production, marketing, and research for development. The review shows that potato research has been increasingly focusing on social determinants of potato farming because of the realization that purely technical solutions will not solve inefficiencies in potato production. Using a gender relations approach, the chapter attempts to draw out lessons that can contribute to the design of future potato interventions including research aimed at reducing the gender gap in agriculture in general and potato farming in particular.

World Food Programme Gender Office, 2020.  Access the report online.

The gender data gap persists. While studies and indices provide information on gender inequalities and on food insecurity, there is no quantitative measure that directly looks at hunger and disempowerment. In an effort to close this gender data gap, and support efforts to achieve Sustainable Development Goals 2 (End hunger) and 5 (Achieve gender equality), the World Food Programme (WFP) and Gallup Inc, with statistical contributions from the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), have collaborated to develop the 'Gender Equality for Food Security' (GE4FS) measure. With global applicability, the GE4FS measure combines the Food Insecurity Experience Scale (FIES) and a gender equality component. The gender equality component is made up of 18 mostly yes/no questions that cover five dimensions of empowerment: decision-making ability, financial selfsufficiency, freedom from violence, reproductive freedom and unpaid labour. The five empowerment dimensions were selected from a literature review and the expertise of a Technical Advisory Group. Administered through the Gallup World Poll, the GE4FS measure can be implemented in any country, across populations aged 15 years and older.

'Women's access and experience in higher education agricultural programs in Africa'

Van Houweling, E., Christie, M. E., & Rahim, A. A. Gender and Education, 32(4), 486-504.  Access the article on the GREAT CoP Zotero group.

In Africa women are underrepresented in higher education (HE) agricultural programs, despite the fact that they make up half of the agricultural labor force. This article discusses the reasons for women's low enrollment in HE agricultural programs, focusing on socio-cultural norms and gendered perceptions of agriculture. Moving beyond access, it also explores the institutional culture and learning environment in HE agricultural programs. We argue that women often feel unsafe, uncomfortable, and isolated in these programs and that conservative socio-cultural norms, which discriminate against women in society and family life, also permeate institutions of HE. The data comes from a literature review, a Southern and Eastern Africa regional workshop, and focus groups and interviews conducted with faculty and students in South Sudan and Mozambique. We conclude with recommendations for increasing the number of women in agricultural programs and improving their experience.

'Measuring Ownership, Control, and use of Assets'

Doss, C., Kieran, C. & Kilic, T. Feminist Economics, 2019. Access the article on the GREAT CoP Zotero group .

Assets generate and help diversify income, alleviate liquidity constraints, and are key inputs into empowerment. Despite the importance of individual-level data on asset ownership, and the fact that most assets are owned by individuals, either solely or jointly, researchers typically collect micro data on asset ownership at the household level. Through a review of the existing approaches to data collection and the relevant literature on survey methodology, this study presents an overview of the current best practices for collecting individual-level data on the ownership and control of assets in household and farm surveys in low- and middle-income countries. The paper provides recommendations in three areas: (1) respondent selection, (2) definition and measurement of access to and ownership and control of assets, and (3) measurement of quantity, value, and quality of assets. It identifies open methodological questions that can be answered through further research.

'Climate change, food and nutrition policies in Uganda: Are they gender- and nutrition-sensitive?'

Bamanyaki, P. A.  CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (2020).  Access the policy brief online .

Most of Uganda's population (76 percent) is rural and largely dependent on rain-fed smallholder subsistence farming as a source of livelihood (UBOS 2017). In recent years, however, agricultural production has faced challenges arising from declining soil fertility, variability in rainfall patterns and volumes, extremes such as prolonged dry spells and floods, and increased incidences of pests and diseases. Women from poor rural households are especially vulnerable to the impacts of climate change owing to their care responsibility of providing food, fuel and safe water for their families, which become scarce following weather extremes (FAO-CGA 2018).

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