The Nigerian Women in Agricultural Research and Development (NiWARD), in collaboration with the Cassava: Adding Value for Africa; Cassava Transformation Agenda alongside SME-Fabricator Training and Centre for Excellence in Agricultural Dissemination Workshop; would be holding the 5th National Conference, Exhibition and Annual General Meeting (AGM).
NiWARD was established to give Nigerian scientists and agricultural researchers, who have been chosen as African Women in Agricultural Research and Development (AWARD) Fellows, a much-needed platform to transfer the knowledge and skills gained through the programme, to rural farming communities in Nigeria by filling the gap in the Nigerian rural agricultural sector and fostering peer-to-peer knowledge transfer by ensuring the implementation of targeted empowerment policies.
The conference, which would hold from September 13 and 15, 2017 at the Park Inn Radisson Hotel, Kuto, Abeokuta, is being hosted by the University with the theme; “Diversity and Inclusiveness in Agricultural Value Chain”. The keynote speaker is the Director of AWARD, Dr. Wnajiru Kamau-Rutenberg. On what the conference was all about, the Dean, College of Food Science and Human Ecology (COLFHEC) of FUNAAB, Professor Lateef Sanni, described the conference as a professional platform for other mentees and mentors that had benefited from AWARD programme, adding that it was an annual conference, where discussions were shared on how to move agricultural development forward.
Professor Sanni, who is also the Vice-Chairman, Steering Committee of AWARD, stated that the objective of the conference was to further give opportunity to women scientists in agriculture, to be able to leverage on entrepreneurial skills into business and making use of the research findings that they had been working on over the years, while strengthening the gender responsiveness in agricultural research. He asked rhetorically; “How many of us have developed agricultural tools that are gender-friendly or even climate smart that could assist either women or men of different strata?”
Professor Sanni, the Country Manager of CAVA II, further stated that access to finance was an important aspect in organising the conference, adding that “We are lucky that the Bank of Industry (BoI) would be at the conference, including other institutions, such as the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), Federal institute of Industrial Research (FIIRO), Agricultural Research Council of Nigeria (ARCN) and National Mathematical Centre, Abuja, among others. According to him, the conference would create regional hub for women in agricultural research and development and a means of enhancing the global visibility of FUNAAB.
Resource persons include the Acting Vice-Chancellor of FUNAAB, Professor Ololade Enikuomehin, a Mentor of AWARD, who is expected to declare the conference open; the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic) of the University and also a Mentor of AWARD, Professor Oluyemisi Eromosele; the immediate past Dean of COLFHEC, who is also the Chairperson, Local Organising Committee (LOC), Professor Folake Henshaw; a Fellow of AWARD, Professor Adebukunola Omemu; Professor Joan Babajide; Professor Alaba Jolaoso; and Professor Iyabo Kehinde of FUNAAB; among others.
Professor Sanni noted that an Add-On to the conference would be the fostering of strong partnership with the Director of C:AVA II, Professor Kolawole Adebayo, who is also the University's Director, Grants Management; and the Director, Centre for Agricultural Development and Sustainable Environment (CEADESE), Professor Okanlawon Onagbesan, stressing that there would be three special sessions in which some of the graduate students would present the posters of their work outputs. He noted further that there would be networking opportunities for Fellows and mentees of AWARD as well as dissemination workshops and opportunities for both C:AVA II and CEADESE. He added that five persons would be honoured with Awards of Excellence at a special dinner to round-off the conference. “There would be a special dinner, because COLFHEC organised an international conference last year and we wanted to have our dinner, which we were unable to do. So, we postponed it and we wanted to use it to welcome back the University's immediate Vice-Chancellor, Professor Olusola Oyewole. So, we thought we should do it together during the NiWARD conference”, he stated.
Professor Sanni said other awardees would include Professor Delana Adelekan of the Department of Nutrition and Dietetics (NUD), College of Animal Science and Livestock Production (COLANIM); Professor Daisy Eruvbetine, a Mentor and the immediate past Dean of COLANIM; Mrs. Christiana Kuforiji, immediate past Director, Executive Affairs, Vice-Chancellor's Office, who had trained several staff and students in the last three decades; as well as the Founder, Nigerian Chapter, Women in Agricultural Research and Development, a retired Don from the Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), Ile-Ife and a former Chairperson, Steering Committee of AWARD, Professor Stella Williams.
“We must be proactive to develop agriculture in Africa”, as the conference was expected to play host to over 11 scientists from nine countries, which include Tanzania, Malawi, Uganda, Mozambique, South Africa, Zambia, Rwanda, Ghana and Kenya, the Dean of COLFHEC further disclosed, promising that the event would be highly educative, interactive and rich for both resource persons and participants.