Research placement

Name of QES Scholars

Priscilla Boadi and Faustina Twumwaa Gyimah

Research Placement Partner

Directorate of Women in Agricultural Development is one of the seven Technical Directorates of the Ministry of Food and Agriculture with the mission to develop effective policies that promote the delivery of improved technologies and information on agricultural production and post-production in an environmentally sustainable manner targeting women. The directorate partners with other collaborators to promote nutrition, food processing and preservation, food safety and gender mainstreaming of all agricultural policies, programs and projects.

Scholar Activities

While working with Women in Agricultural Development, Priscilla and Faustina worked as part of a team of reviewers responsible for reviewing evidence to support the development of a food-based dietary guideline in Ghana. Specifically, Priscilla and Faustina explored and systematically documented evidence on food production, food availability, food accessibility, and the food safety situation in Ghana. The evidence gathering involved using search databases such as PubMed and Scopus as well as evidence from other sources such as from institutional reports, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations Corporate Statistical Database (FAOSTAT) for the period 2010 - 2018, FishStatJ software v.4.00.16 for the period 2010 – 2018, the World Bank World Development Indicators, and reports from other local and international organizations. Results of the evidence review were presented at an evidence validation workshop organized by the Ghana Food-Based Dietary Guidelines Task team, where Priscilla and Faustina gave detailed presentations and provided short summaries of the evidence to the task team to support further discussions. Priscilla and Faustina also presented the evidence in a manuscript entitled "Trend analysis of food production, trade, safety, and consumption in Ghana between 2010 and 2020," which is in the process of submission for publication in the African Journal of Agriculture Nutrition and Development.

Priscilla and Faustina's work with the Directorate of Women in Agricultural Development exposed them to diverse stakeholders involved in agriculture and nutrition in Ghana. The research placement partner exposure enabled them to understand the food security and nutrition trends in the Ghanaian context. Priscilla and Faustina both received mentorship from the evidence review team's chairpersons and learned to collaborate with other researchers, which has widened their professional network. Priscilla and Faustina also improved their data analysis, report writing, and presentation skills.

Name of QES Scholar

Loloah Chamoun

Research Placement Partner

Aspire Foods Limited operates in Ghana. Aspire has built a pilot facility to research and breed palm weevil larvae (akokono), allowing the organization to develop a better understanding of the biology of the insect, conditions for optimal breeding, and prototype shelf-stable palm larvae products. Aspire undertakes developmental projects and is the only commercial seller of palm weevil larvae in Ghana.

Scholar Activities

At Aspire, Loloah worked mainly with the product development staff on testing several preservation techniques to store and increase the akokono’s shelf life. These included freezing the akokono, vacuum sealing it, adding antioxidants at different concentrations and combining the aforementioned techniques. Loloah together with the Aspire team also brainstormed new food product ideas containing akokono and started working on product formulations. Finally, Loloah assisted the Animal Nutritionist in testing out a sausage casing as a cheaper alternative for cassava in/on which the palm weevil can feed off of and lay their eggs.

Loloah attended two workshops:

  1. Facilitated by the Animal Nutritionist who covered the different feeding strategies that Aspire has been testing to increase the larvae yield and
  2. Facilitated by the Research Technologist who covered the different strategies that Aspire has been testing to optimize the breeding of palm weevil (mainly focusing on controlling environmental conditions such as the temperature, relative humidity and air circulation of the plastic containers in which palm weevils are placed for breeding).

These activities allowed Loloah to strengthen her knowledge on the breeding and farming techniques of akokono as well as put in practice her food chemistry-related skills. Finally, Loloah volunteered with Aspire’s sales team, where she helped prepare and package the akokono-based products and accompanied one of the saleswomen to the markets to sell them. Loloah also had the opportunity to answer customers’ questions concerning akokono, mainly those pertaining to its nutritional content and benefits.

Name of QES Scholar

Emmanuella Ellis

Research Placement Partner

Global Open Data for Agriculture and Nutrition (GODAN) promotes the proactive sharing of Open Data to make information about agriculture and nutrition available, accessible and usable globally. The initiative focuses on building high level policy and public and private institutional support for open data. GODAN works across the value chain for agriculture and nutrition to scale open data use worldwide.

Scholar Activities

At GODAN, Emmanuella was responsible for undertaking research on the project “Assessing the use of data by GODAN partners and its impact in addressing agriculture and nutrition-related challenges from 2016/2017 to 2020”. She designed and administered surveys using an online tool to gather information from more than 1,000 organizations in different parts of the world. Her work involved scheduling and organizing online interviews with research participants through Zoom and Skype to have an in-depth understanding of the impact of their activities on farm productivity and food security. The data gathered were analysed and a report on the findings was generated and presented to GODAN along with some recommendations. Emmanuella handled communications and responded to internal requests for assistance beyond the survey. She assisted with the compilation of success stories of GODAN partners and their work to make data open and accessible to individuals and groups. Finally, she also assisted with work on a Food and Agriculture Organization document on the ethical concerns, governance, and use of agricultural data.

Emmanuella’s work with GODAN exposed her to the work being done by organizations around the world to make data open and easily accessible to different groups of individuals with the goal of improving production, food security, and nutrition. It was an opportunity to develop additional skills in the designing of online survey tools and remote data collection while improving her communication skills. The knowledge and skills gained will be beneficial for future research work.

Name of QES Scholar

Mona Ghadarian

Research Placement Partners

(1) World Vision Ghana

This organization partners with governments, faith leaders, and like-minded organizations to address underlying causes of poverty and injustice that threaten the future of children in Ghana.

(2) Olinga Foundation for Human Development

This organization works in the education sector in Ghana and aims to transform the teachers' attitudes towards teaching in the primary classroom.

Scholar Activities

During the research placement at World Vision Ghana, Mona served as a research supervisor for an end-of-term evaluation of a nutrition education intervention called Nutrition Links. She helped coordinate a range of research activities related to the development of interview guides, training research staff, coordinating data collection, and analysis. Nutrition Links provided nutrition education training to community members, traditional leaders, and health and non-health institutional staff from a variety of sectors such as Ghana Education Services, District Assembly, and the Upper Manya Krobo Rural Bank. The evaluation team interviewed those who participated in these training in order to better understand how they applied what was taught and the facilitators and barriers to applying the nutrition information. Another interesting element of the evaluation was the discussion with community members, mothers, and traditional leaders about their experience participating in the community-based nutrition education activities that were spearheaded by World Vision Ghana. The results were presented in a report to World Vision Ghana.

Mona’s work with the Olinga Foundation touched on a few different topics. She was asked to assist in two major ways:

  1. to help build capacity among staff and
  2. to assist in developing and editing policy briefs, research reports, and grant applications.

Her focus was on developing the research capacity of staff to design and conduct focus group discussions (FGD). She held a workshop where best practices in conducting FGDs were reviewed. She also practiced various questioning techniques and designed a FGD guide on the topic of safeguarding girls from sexual assault. Staff went to implement what they had learnt in Suhum, Ghana in the form of two focus groups with adolescent girls who had recently dropped out of school. She also prepared a workshop on how to facilitate a participatory video approach that can be used to compliment Olinga Foundation's education and research activities. During this workshop, half a dozen staff learned how to use a camera, develop a storyboard, film, edit, and screen a video. The staff made their own video on the topic of safeguarding girls. Mona went with the staff to Suhum for two days to work with adolescent girls to develop a community play on a similar topic. Furthermore, she edited their USAID research report on the implementation of Low-Cost Private Schools in Ghana and a number of policy briefs on safeguarding against sexual harassment in the workplace and in the field. She also contributed to the development of an IDRC grant on scaling up the Complimentary Basic Education curriculum that has been used to increase literacy among children in rural areas of Ghana, Mali, and Burkina Faso. The Complementary Basic Education curriculum also touches on social issues and behaviour change such as gender equality and nutrition.

Mona’s work with these two research placement partners exposed her to a range of research activities and demographics that she would have otherwise not have experienced. The placement with World Vision Ghana provided her exposure to the real-life nutrition issues that rural Ghanaians face and to the novel approaches that organizations have used to address gaps in nutrition education. The Olinga Foundation further helped her to train staff of an organization that seeks to refine its scientific approach to address education issues in Ghana and to incorporate participatory means to address their research questions.

Name of QES scholar

Afua Atuobi-Yeboah

Research Placement Partner (RPP)

International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) – Ghana

IFPRI Ghana is implementing the Ghana Strategy Support Program (GSSP). IFPRI’s goal is to conduct demand-driven and policy-relevant research and advice on strategic policy-making options to support agricultural growth, rural development and economic transformation in Ghana. IFPRI Ghana partners with government, non-government international and local organizations and donor agencies to carry out its work.

Scholar Activities

During the Research Placement at IFPRI Ghana Office, Afua participated in two main activities: (i) completing the coding, analysis, and synthesis of qualitative data for the Stories of Challenge work in Ghana, and (ii) conducting stakeholder mapping (Net-Map) interviews and analysis for the Feed the Future program’s Innovation Lab for Small-Scale Irrigation (ILSSI). For the Stories of Challenge, she worked with the RPP staff to develop a codebook using the open coding approach. After becoming familiarized with a set of transcripts for the module on physical activity and lifestyle, they developed possible codes/themes, revised and fine-tuned them into a codebook which was entered into a text analysis software NVIVO (QSR International, Melbourne, Australia) 12.0. Thereafter, the transcripts were independently coded using the codebook and data were extracted. A summary report was written to describe the physical activity and lifestyle of participants interviewed.

Afua helped facilitate a one-day national-levelled net-map meeting under the ILSSI project in Accra. Thereafter, she led a team from IFPRI and International Water Management Institute (IWMI) to facilitate a regional-levelled net-map meeting with relevant stakeholders. The net-map aimed to identify the actors who influence the diffusion of small-scale irrigation technologies (SSIT) in Ghana. Challenges and opportunities of SSIT at both levels were explored. A report has been submitted and a publication is being developed from it.

Afua’s placement with IFPRI Ghana served as a capacity-building opportunity which has exposed her to additional hands-on skills in qualitative data synthesis and stakeholder mapping. The skills will be useful for her work in the future and will contribute to helping her mentor others seeking to apply stakeholder mapping to understand social relationships that influence lives beyond nutrition and public health. The placement has widened her network through exposure to the work of other researchers.

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