UC Davis and Uganda students consider gender in irrigation design

Julia Jordan, university of California at davis (UC Davis) graduate student and RIFA fellow
Julia Jordan, UC Davis graduate student and RIFA fellow

Editor’s note: Julia Jordan is one of two UC Davis graduate students (along with Mariah Coley) who have been working on a Horticulture Innovation Lab project in Uganda with support from Research and Innovation Fellowship for Agriculture (RIFA). As a RIFA fellow, she worked in Uganda for 5 months alongside the Teso Women’s Development Initiative and Busitema University students in relation to a project focused on developing farmer-led irrigation solutions, with leadership from Kate Scow of UC Davis. Julia previously worked as a graduate assistant with the Horticulture Innovation Lab’s management team at UC Davis.

Below is an excerpt of a blog post that Julia wrote about her work on this project, a version of which has also been shared on the Agrilinks website.

Under the shade of a mango tree on a cool Monday morning in Soroti, Uganda, ten Busitema University student interns gathered and looked around apprehensively. They were seated on bright blue plastic chairs outside of the Teso Women’s Development Initiative (TEWDI) office, where they had been meeting for weeks as part of their internships with a research project focused on  developing farmer-led irrigation solutions.

The group of crop science, agricultural mechanization, and irrigation engineering majors had just been asked to brainstorm and write down the qualities, roles and expectations they associate with women and those they associate with men. Though initially confused by the exercise, the students were soon furiously scribbling their ideas on a colorful array of sticky notes and, shortly after, engaged in a lively discussion about the gender norms and relationships they have witnessed, experienced, or heard about in their own communities.

These soon-to-be professionals, many of whom hail from rural farm families and villages in various regions of Uganda, debated pervasive assumptions about men’s superior physical strength, contemplated what it means for a woman to be expected to “submit” to her husband, and described the perceived threat of a woman attaining a higher education level than a man. They reflected on women’s responsibility to collect firewood and water, men’s tendency to manage cattle, and why it may be more common to see women riding bicycles in some regions rather than others. I encouraged the students to also consider how age, ethnicity, disability status, religion, and other social differences may influence these issues.

“So,” I asked them, “what does all of this have to do with designing irrigation technology?” Continue reading UC Davis and Uganda students consider gender in irrigation design

Ugandan president commends students for irrigation innovations

In Uganda, President Yoweri Museveni attended a graduation ceremony this month at Busitema University, lauding the institution and its students for their work with irrigation innovations.

Students and faculty members at Busitema University are part of a Horticulture Innovation Lab project focused on developing farmer-led irrigation solutions. The project is led by Kate Scow of UC Davis, with additional partners from the Teso Women Development Initiative, the National Semi Arid Resources Research Institute and others.

“I want to encourage you. You’re on the right path, and I will give you all my support,” Museveni can be heard saying in the video from NTV Uganda, below. “A university is the place for innovations and knowledge generation. It is also a place where the future of our youth is forged through education and where our people’s lives are changed through community outreach.”

Among the irrigation prototypes featured at the ceremony (and in the video) was a self-propelled “hydro wheel,” which is designed to pump water from a stream to farmers’ plots. The hydro wheel was designed by Continue reading Ugandan president commends students for irrigation innovations

Grad students: Apply for international ag experience with Trellis Fund

The Horticulture Innovation Lab is now recruiting graduate students with agricultural expertise to participate in nine new Trellis Fund projects in Africa and Asia.

U.S. graduate students from North Carolina State University, the University of Florida, the University of California, Davis, and the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa are eligible to apply.

The deadline for applications is Nov. 4, 2016.

Selected students will work to support a six-month project, with 100 hours of remote work and also travel for 1-2 weeks of in-country work. Projects will take place during 2017 in Ghana, Kenya, Uganda, Cambodia and Nepal.

Students will be provided air travel; reimbursement for Continue reading Grad students: Apply for international ag experience with Trellis Fund

UC Davis students selected as ‘Future Leaders’

Two UC Davis students — Elyssa Lewis and Kate Polakiewicz — were selected for a competitive student fellowship by the Association for International Agriculture and Rural Development (AIARD).

The fellowship supports each student in attending the 2016 AIARD Conference, June 5-7 in Washington, D.C. The selected students will also participate in Continue reading UC Davis students selected as ‘Future Leaders’

Students share Trellis stories in Davis Enterprise

Three UC Davis students shared their experiences with Trellis Fund projects this summer for a front-page article, “Global insights: Trellis students work abroad,” in the Davis Enterprise.

For the article Felicia Alvarez, who covers the agriculture beat for the Davis community newspaper, interviewed students Brittany Pierce, Deirdre Griffin, and Belinda Richardson. She also talked to Elyssa Lewis, one of the UC Davis graduate students who manages the Trellis Fund for the Horticulture Innovation Lab, about how the program works.

The article is dramatic and entertaining, bringing readers along on the students’ journeys and into distant agricultural fields, beginning with:

They found themselves in Bangladesh, Malawi and Kenya.

…. After months of preparation, three students journeyed abroad to take a crack at agricultural problems in the developing world. These are their stories.

Read the rest of the article here.

three people holding amaranth grain in a field of amaranth
Belinda Richardson, left, picks amaranth in a demonstration garden with Olivia Atieno Nyaidho and Onyango Vincent, both of DIG, in Kenya.

Though 14 students from multiple universities were selected to participate in this year’s Trellis Fund projects, this article focused on the individual experiences of just these three — all of whom returned from their trips abroad very recently. As I write this blog post, two students are traveling for Trellis projects right now, and six others are planning Trellis trips in the near future.

The newspaper article follows Pierce through a day in Bangladesh and Continue reading Students share Trellis stories in Davis Enterprise