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A promising future for African agricultural science

The finals of the 3rd 'Africa-wide Women and Young Professionals in Science Competitions: Feeding 1 billion in Africa in a changing world' took place at the 6th Africa Agriculture Week, with the awards presented during the FARA General Assembly on 15-16 July 2013.

Twenty finalists, ten young professionals in science and ten women in science, faced a panel of prestigious African judges led by Professor Ameenah Gurib-Fakim, Managing Director of CEPHYR. The top five from both categories were selected based on the soundness and relevance of their research as well as the scientific merit. Consideration was also given to how well they communicated their research and its impact to peers, policy makers and end-users.

The finalists came from a number of different countries, and their projects are even more diverse. The first place winner in the Young Professionals in Science Award was Dr. Jemanesh Kifetew Haile, of Ethiopia (pictured below receiving her prize). She is developing a QTL mapping of rust resistance in Ethiopian wheat.

Science comp winner

The overall winner of the Women in Science Award was the Mauritian Dr. Nafiisa Sobratee. She is studying valorisation of poultry litter to compost to assess the potential of pathogen reduction.

In addition to cash prizes the finalists also received books and equipment such as laptops and video cameras to continue their research.

The competition, which is organised by CTA, ANAFE, RUFORUM and the NEPAD Planning and Coordinating Agency helped raise awareness of the need for valuing and sustaining the engagement of women and young professionals in science. It also served to recognize and reward the contributions of African women scientists and young professionals involved in pioneering and innovative research, technology development and engineering and those who advocate for policy change or influence policy processes through their research, education and outreach programmes.

All papers submitted from the 45 semi-finalists will be published internationally by CTA. Abstracts of the submissions by the 20 finalists are available to download. More information on the competition can be found here.