A Bioversity International Research Fellow, Deborah Sandra Nabuuma, has been awarded the prestigious African Women in Agricultural Research and Development (AWARD) Fellowship this year. Deborah competed against more than 700 applicants for the fellowship that has been putting female scientists in the driver’s seat of African agricultural research for over half a decade.
“The AWARD program supports women scientists working to improve farming here in Africa and to fight hunger and poverty. We need women represented in our laboratories, as well as our fields. I really congratulate the AWARD women for being pioneers,” said Hillary Rodham Clinton, former U.S. Secretary of State, at a meeting with AWARD scientists in 2009.
Following a highly competitive process, the AWARD Fellowships are awarded on the basis of intellectual merit, leadership capacity, and the potential of the scientist’s research to improve the daily lives of smallholder farmers, especially women. To date, AWARD has received applications from 3,000 women for a total of 390 available fellowships. In just five years, 320 African women scientists from 11 sub-Saharan countries have benefitted from the two-year fellowship.
Based in Uganda, Deborah works on a Bioversity International project entitled ‘Addressing micronutrient deficiencies in sub-Saharan Africa through Musa-based foods’. The project promotes the adoption of micronutrient-rich banana cultivars within existing farming systems and eventually within household diets and enhances food security in sub-Saharan Africa.
“I am very grateful to the AWARD Fellowship committee for having chosen me amongst so many candidates,” said Deborah on 19 November 2013 when she was selected.
“I have long-term changes in mind; I envision a future for agricultural research and development in Uganda that not only achieves positive results in communities but also generates adoption of the positive skills, information and knowledge imparted so there is continuity even after the project has ended.”
“Through the two year AWARD Fellowship, adding to the experience I have gained while working on the field with Bioversity International, I hope to develop my research and leadership skills and become a truly wholesome scientist,” she said. In the future Deborah Sandra Nabuuma hopes to use the skills gained through the AWARD Fellowship and work to improve the nutrition, food security, and livelihoods of sub-Saharan communities.