LUSAKA (Zambia) – The CGIAR Research Program on Maize (MAIZE) has officially announced the winners of the 2019 MAIZE Youth Innovators Awards – Africa. These awards recognize the contributions of young women and men under 35 who are implementing innovations in African maize-based agri-food systems, including research-for-development, seed systems, agribusiness, and sustainable intensification.
Award recipients will attend the upcoming Stress Tolerant Maize for Africa (STMA) project meeting in Lusaka, Zambia, May 7-9 where they will receive their awards and have the opportunity to present their work. The project meeting and award ceremony will also allow these young innovators to network and exchange experiences with MAIZE researchers and partners. Award recipients may also get the opportunity to collaborate with MAIZE and its partner scientists in Africa on implementing or furthering their innovations.
Overall, women account for only 28 percent of the world’s researchers according to data from the UN. Over the past 15 years, the global community has made a lot of effort to inspire and engage women and girls in science. However, a significant gender gap persists at all levels of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) disciplines, and women and girls continue to be excluded from participating fully in science.
Science and gender equality are both vital for the achievement of
the internationally agreed development goals and the UN sustainable development
Nominations are now open for the 2019 MAIZE Youth Innovators Awards – Africa! These awards are part of the efforts that the CGIAR Research Program on Maize (MAIZE) is undertaking to promote youth participation in maize based agri-food systems. These awards recognize the contributions of young women and men below 35 years of age who are implementing innovations in African maize-based agri-food systems, including research-for-development, seed systems, agribusiness, and sustainable intensification.
Vignesh Muthusamy was recently awarded the 2018 MAIZE-Asia Youth Innovators Award from the from the CGIARResearch Program on Maize (MAIZE) for his work on the development of biofortified provitamin A and quality protein maize (QPM) maize hybrids. A specialist in maize genetics and breeding, his research demonstrates the use of modern biotechnological tools in crop improvement. Vignesh is from a farming community in the Namakkal district in Tamil Nadu and isa scientist in the Division of Genetics, ICAR-Indian Agricultural Research Institute, New Delhi. In a recent interview, he discussed the challenges and opportunities facing maize in Asia, as well as the importance of nutrition and involving young people in maize-based systems.
Q: What inspired you to pursue a career in maize-based systems?
I hail from a farming family and due to India being an agrarian-based economy, most of the rural household is involved in agriculture. Lack of access of nutritious food is one of the primary challenges causing severe socio-economic loss in the country and maize,with such diverse end uses as food and feed can serve as an effective means of delivering a nutritious diet while bolstering the economy.