Job Opportunity: Post-doctoral fellow with Biodiversity International

Topic: Integrating gendered knowledge and preferences into banana breeding in East Africa: from the end-users to the laboratory and back again

Context: Banana is the main staple food in the East and Central Africa (ECA) region, where over 50% of the cropping area is under permanent banana cultivation and per capita consumption can be as high as 300 kg per year. The International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) and the National Agricultural Research Organisation – Uganda (NARO) have jointly developed 27 hybrid East African Highland Bananas (EAHB), herein called NARITAs, that have good tolerance/resistance to pests and diseases. As part of a Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) and Roots, Tubers and Bananas (RTB) funded project “Improvement of Banana for Smallholder Farmers in the Great Lakes Region of Africa” running from 2014-2019, Bioversity International will evaluate the NARITAs for their agronomic performance and consumer acceptance in a range of expected end-user environments and target markets in Uganda and Tanzania, using a participatory varietal selection methodology. The ultimate objective is to identify NARITAs that are well adapted to, and can be integrated into, existing EAHB farming systems.

Purpose of the role: Bioversity International is seeking a highly motivated Post Doctoral Fellow to conduct research on how to integrate gender-oriented research, especially gendered trait preferences, into the complete banana-breeding process. Banana-breeders historically prioritize hybrid creation for yield and resistance (pest, disease, abiotic) traits, without fully understanding all the traits important to the intended end-users. As banana cultivation, value-added processing, selling and consuming are frequently gender-specific, so too are the associated trait preferences. Breeding strategies that are blind to gender differences are likely to result in continued low rates of adoption, representing wasted investment, and potentially the reproduction of gender inequalities. Adoption of new varieties intersects with gender relations and possible intra-household inequality (i.e. control, access, and decision-making across a range of issue areas, such as land tenure, seed systems, cultivation, labour, capital, use of earned income, nutrition). Such social context must be understood to enable gender-responsive banana breeding.

Main responsibilities: The successful candidate will work under the supervision of the Bioversity International Senior Scientist on Musa germplasm evaluation (based in Belgium) and Assistant Professor of International Development Community and Environment at Clark University (based in USA), and in close collaboration with other project partners (based in Tanzania, Uganda, Belgium and France). The Post Doctoral Fellow will be based in Kampala, Uganda, and conduct research within the cultivar evaluation activities of the project in five areas that were chosen for their different agro-ecological and production system characteristics: Arusha, Kagera and Mbeya districts (Tanzania), and Luwero and Mbarara districts (Uganda). The position will require regular in-country and cross-border travels.

The Post Doctoral Fellow will be expected to conduct research to answer three main research questions:

1. What are the gendered trait preferences for banana across the value chain, in the project areas?

2. What are the social contexts of the project areas within which the gendered trait preferences are exercised? In particular, what are the gender relations and possible inequities between men and women in a range of issue that are relevant for the adoption, or not, of new banana hybrids, such as land tenure, cultivation, labour, and capital.

3. Given the gendered trait preferences for banana across the value chain (Q1), the social context that these preferences operate in (Q2), and the specific traits of the 27 new hybrids that will be evaluated:

a) What are the possible gender consequences of introducing any of the hybrids into the local production systems and value chains of the project areas?

b) How can the project be implemented to ensure than men and women fully participate in project activities and benefit from the outputs, in order to achieve gender responsive outcomes?

More specifically, the Post Doctoral Fellow will:

 Code, analyse and interpret qualitative and quantitative data collected during baseline studies in Tanzania and Uganda in 2015 and 2016;

 Upon the completion of baseline data analysis, conduct a validation exercise in each of the 5 study sites by presenting the initial findings to study participants, and conduct further focus group discussions and interviews to corroborate and enrich the results;

 Work with colleagues to integrate gender findings into banana breeding workflows, to ensure the gender-sensitive design and implementation of on-farm evaluation trials;

 Be active in the ongoing adaptive management of the project so that emerging knowledge from the gendered trait preferences, the social context of and the gender relations within the project areas can inform the existing and upcoming research activities;

 Develop indicators to measure gender-differentiated outcomes of the introduction of new hybrids into the project areas;

 Present findings at project meetings, to stakeholders, and at a relevant international conference;

 Co-author a series of Bioversity working papers, policy briefs and work with co-authors to prepare manuscripts for submission to relevant peer reviewed open-access journals.

Qualifications and competencies

Essential qualifications & competencies:

 PhD in a social science; preferred disciplines include sociology and rural sociology, anthropology,development studies, or geography. An economist with demonstrable experience in the use of qualitative data will be considered.

 Experience of working in the agricultural sector, and living in a rural community in a developing country.

 Knowledge of gender analysis in agriculture, environment, natural resources management, and rural sociology.

 Expertise in qualitative and quantitative data analysis methods, and experience using mixed methods.

 Excellent command of the English language, both written and spoken.
Strong analytical and synthesizing skills; ability to think and write clearly and concisely on scientific documents and research proposals.

 Strong teamwork, interpersonal and communications skills; courtesy, tact and the ability to establish and maintain effective working relationships with people of different cultural and national backgrounds.

 Highly developed skills with personal organization and priority setting.

 Ability to work with a high degree of independence within assigned areas, complemented by sound judgment and initiative, flexibility and adaptability.
Desirable qualifications and competencies:

 Experience in an international working environment.

 Evidence of course work in Gender Mainstreaming, Gender in Development Planning and Gender Equity and Equality.

 Integrating field-based social science research into policy action or adaptive project monitoring and evaluation.

Terms and conditions: This is an internationally recruited position. Bioversity International offers an attractive remuneration package including a competitive salary, non-contributory retirement plan, medical insurance, housing allowance and leave provisions. All benefits are denominated and paid in US Dollars. The initial contract will be for a period of one year, renewable for a second year, subject to a probationary period of six months.

Applications: Please apply online through Bioversity Job Opportunities web page by clicking the “Apply” button, completing the online application and attaching the required information, no later than 21 March, 2016. Please note that in the application you are required to provide the contact details (address, telephone number and e-mail address) of at least three referees, which Bioversity will contact for short listed applicants.

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