This is part of a series of posts about the Ford Foundation International Fellowship Program (IFP) and its alumni. Royce Gloria Androa received an IFP fellowship to attend the University of California at Davis, where she earned a master’s degree in International Agricultural Development. Androa is also an author in State of the World 2011: Innovations that Nourish the Planet.
“In Uganda, when you talk about agriculture you are really talking about women,” says Royce Gloria Androa, a 2007 fellow with the Ford Foundation International Fellowship Program (IFP). IFP is an international fellowship program that gives underserved leaders and activists from all areas of focus a chance to gain higher education at some of the most prestigious universities in the world.
Growing up in Arua, a town in the northwestern region of Uganda near the border of Sudan and the Congo, Gloria was struck by the significant role the women played in feeding the community. She was especially impressed with her mother’s agricultural skills. “My mother used to work so hard and she never went to school,” says Gloria. “There was a district farm institute six miles away from the farm and she would go there for trainings and then she would come back and teach us how to grow soya beans and how to cook cakes and nutritious meals.”
Soon Gloria’s mother started raising chickens and she let Gloria collect the eggs to sell at the market. Seeing that agriculture could be a source of income and nutrition for entire families—and noticing that often it was uneducated women who were able to care for their families with the help of government extension training—Gloria knew that when she grew up she would go into agriculture training herself.
“I thought if I had training in agriculture and food then I could help the women in my community,” says Gloria. “It all started with my mother.”
Gloria went to school and studied agriculture and soon was working for the government’s National Agricultural Advisory Services as a district coordinator. She helped manage extensions services that introduced new technologies such as improved groundnut or soya seeds, as well as improved breeds of goats. The services also provide materials and education services. But Gloria wanted to do more, so she applied to IFP.
One of 16 applicants to be selected from a total of 1,200 in Uganda, Gloria received a scholarship from IFP to study at the University of California at Davis. She got her masters in International Agricultural Development and returned to Uganda to take on more responsibilities with the government agricultural extension services.
“Right when I got back I was hired as a consultant to help give technical support to a district in the northern part of the country where program funds had been misappropriated,” says Gloria. “I helped to recover the over 1 billion Ugandan shillings that had been stolen and put it back into the district account.” With those funds the program was able to procure sorghum and pea seeds, planting materials, livestock, and plows, for area farmers. A total of 10,000 mostly women farmers benefited from the money she helped to recover.
IFP has also helped Gloria to develop relationships with other researchers and academics. She is a contributing author to State of the World 2011: Innovations that Nourish the Planet, co-authoring the Chapter 11, “Harnessing the Knowledge and Skills of Women Farmers.” And she hopes to continue to raise awareness about women’s contributions to agriculture in the agricultural development community.
“I want more people to pay attention to women in rural areas,” says Gloria. “I am very grateful to have the opportunity to get people to turn their heads towards the question of how we can improve technologies to reduce labor and help the women who are producing all of the food. I have experience and knowledge, but now I also have the education to help back it up, as well.”
To read more in our series about IFP see: Blazing the Trail to Transform Education and Local Communities: An Interview with Joan Dassin, Part I , Blazing the Trail to Transform Education and Local Communities: An Interview with Joan Dassin, Part II and For the Birds.