The competition was instituted in 2008 to allow the voices of African women and young professionals in science to be heard in national, regional and international policy forums and to encourage and support them to participate in policy processes and in agenda setting events.
The 2013 competitions sought to recognize and reward the contributions of women and young professionals involved in pioneering and innovative research, technology development and engineering, communicating their research results and technological developments to improve agricultural performance, enhance livelihoods and build resilience of African communities among others.
In all, 316 submissions were received for both competitions (East Africa: 105; West Africa: 129; Central Africa: 45; Southern Africa: 31; North Africa: 6;).
45 top entrants including Miss Akaogu were selected to develop their abstracts into full papers using standard guidelines. They then participated in the Scientific Writing, Communication and Advocacy Workshop, which was held in conjunction with the 3rd RUFORUM biennial conference from 24-28 September, 2012 in Uganda. 20 finalists; 10 for each category, were selected to compete for the top five places in each competition during the 6th Africa Agricultural Science Week organised by FARA in Accra, Ghana.
Miss Akaogu, won the third prize with a presentation titled ‘Agronomic Performance of Extra-early Maize Hybrids under Stress and Non-stress Environments in Nigeria’. Based on her study, it was concluded that extra-early hybrids are not only drought escaping but also possess genes for tolerance to drought at flowering and grain-filling periods.
Extra-early maize is an important staple crop and is required for filling the hunger gap in the savannahs when food reserves are depleted after the long dry period and for green maize in the peri-urban areas of the forest zones. Promotion of the adoption and commercialization of the new hybrids will contribute to food security and improve incomes of farmers.