Christopher Dowswell was aide-de-camp to Nobel Laureate Dr. Norman E. Borlaug for more than 30 years. He joined the Sasakawa Africa Association (SAA) in 1991 and was appointed joint Executive Director in 2009. Chris worked tirelessly for SAA's objective of supporting smallholder farmers and particularly agricultural extension. The Fund provides scholarships for degree training in Agricultural Extension, especially for women.
Ag Extension personnel in Africa need updated training to better assist local farmers to increase production and incomes. In many cultures women are unable to meet directly with the men that make up the vast majority of extension workers. Therefore rural farm women often remain poorly informed about production technology and practices, even though they often play a primary role in agricultural production.
Increasing education levels of agricultural extension workers will improve the transfer of knowledge and skill to farmers leading to increased production and incomes. Increasing the number of well trained female agricultural extension workers will provide women farmers greater access to agricultural technologies and production information. Focusing on female extension workers also provides role models for girls to enter agricultural extension and further increasing the number of women.
In the long term, more farmers will have access to better agricultural technology and production information which will increase agricultural production and incomes, and reduce poverty and hunger. Also, more women active in agricultural extension will provide role models for young womena and girls to follow into the field, increasing the number of women extension agents and further expanding the impact of the scholarships..