Frida Nyamete, a Ph.D. student in the Department of Food Science and Technology, was recently named a fellow of the African Women in Agricultural Research and Development (AWARD) Program. Frida is advised by Dr. Hua Wang, Professor in Food Science and Technology, and is funded by the Innovative Agricultural Research Initiative (iAGRI) – a USAID-funded, Feed the Future project in Tanzania led by The Ohio State University. Frida embarked on her Ph.D program at Ohio State in the fall of 2015 after completing her M.S. in Food Science at Michigan State University, which was also supported by iAGRI.
Frida is honored to be selected for this distinction, feeling that the two year fellowship will be a gateway to other opportunities for research and professional development.
“The AWARD fellowship, along with my PhD program, will help me to move toward being a visionary, innovative, and independent leader who can make a difference in my community in Tanzania,” shares Frida, adding that she will specifically “be equipped with the experience, mentoring, as well as scientific and leadership skills that promote the innovations needed by rural women and other smallholder farmers in Tanzania.”
AWARD, which is supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the United States Agency for International Development, and the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa, aims to significantly expand and strengthen the capacity of African women scientists, recognizing their vital contribution to science and research. By fostering mentoring partnerships, building research skills, and developing leadership capacity in their 460 female fellows from 11 Sub-Saharan African countries, AWARD seeks to serve as a catalyst for innovation for prosperity and well-being among African smallholder farmers.
As a part of her AWARD program, Frida will begin mentoring another junior female scientist in March and then in June, will organize a role modeling event that will provide middle school girls in Tanzania the opportunity to interact with more senior female scientists in the agricultural field. This program will encourage female scientists to share their experiences with their younger counterparts, while allowing young girls participating in the program to reflect and strategize on how they plan to pursue a future in science and agriculture.
“Increasing opportunities for women in these fields is an important step towards realizing greater economic success and gender equality across the country,” explains Frida.
After all, the majority of those who produce, process, and market Africa’s food are women, but only one in four agricultural researchers is female. This is the reality that has driven Frida and her peers, through AWARD, to support the development of current and future African female agricultural researchers.
This fellowship, coupled with her Ph.D. training, will ultimately allow Frida to return to Tanzania, as other iAGRI-supported students have, to effectively train other students and scientists at the Sokoine University of Agriculture (SUA), a key collaborative partner of Ohio State’s in Tanzania. This, along with iAGRI’s successful collaborative research projects and human and institutional capacity building (HICD) efforts at SUA, will go a long way in ultimately enhancing food security in Tanzania.