Group Title: Women in agricultural research
Title: Women in agricultural research:
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 Material Information
Title: Women in agricultural research: the case of two Cameroonian research scientists
Physical Description: 7 leaves ; 28 cm.
Language: English
Creator: Onokpise, Oghenekome U.
Meboka, Mary M.
Eyango, Anne S.
Publication Date: 1993
Copyright Date: 1993
Subject: Women in agriculture -- Cameroon   ( lcsh )
Agriculture -- Research -- Cameroon   ( lcsh )
Genre: non-fiction   ( marcgt )
Spatial Coverage: Cameroon
Statement of Responsibility: by Oghenekome U. Onokpise, Mary M. Meboka, and Anne S. Eyango.
General Note: Typescript.
General Note: "Display paper presented at the Association for Farming Systems Research - Extension, North American Symposium, Gainesville, Florida."
General Note: "October 12-16, 1993."
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00095690
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: oclc - 436221179

Full Text




Oghenekome U. Onokpise1, Mary M. Meboka2,

and Anne S. Eyango3

1Associate Professor, Division of Agricultural Sciences,
Florida A&M University, Tallahassee, Florida 32307.

2Research Officers, Institute of Agronomic Research (IRA),
Ekona, P.M.B. 25, Buea, Cameroon.

Display Paper Presented at the Association for Farming
Systems Research Extension, North American Symposium,
Gainesville, Florida.

October 12-16, 1993


While the United Nations Decade for Women ended in 1985, some

eight years ago, there are very few models to follow or cite with

regards to the involvement of women in the planning and execution

of economic and social development efforts in most third world

countries. The situation in Africa is even more pathetic

especially in the Agricultural Research area. Women in research

remain less educated than their male counterparts. This limitation

explains why women constitute less than five percent of research

scientists in agricultural research establishments of most

developing countries. Despite strives made at the primary,

secondary and the undergraduate university levels, only very few

women go on to receive graduate degrees. These advanced degrees

are essential for research activities in the University and at

Research Stations. It is a rarity when we are able to identify two

ladies Mrs. Mary Meboka and Ms. Anne Eyango who are not only

intelligent but also very hardworking and consider pregnancy or

single parenthood as no barriers to their performance. Given the

acute shortages of women who are interested in Agricultural

Research, recommendations of young women like Mrs. Mary Meboka for

advanced degrees, should become a regular feature in Foreign Aid

programs. It would enhance the role of women in Agricultural

Research and Development. This is very important, since women in

developing countries to a very large extent, are responsible for

agricultural activities. Experiences of these authors indicate

that women are more receptive to improved agricultural technology

when introduced by a member of the same gender.


In the last ten or so years, international funding agencies

have devoted good portions of their dollars to the active

participation of women (especially rural women) to their

development efforts. For many African countries, these activities

have included community health programs, social forestry for

fuelwood production, and agroforestry systems for effective farm

management and sustainable agriculture. Yet, the effective

recruitment and training of qualified females to provide leadership

for these activities have lagged far behind.

The old arguments of house management and motherhood have been

used to keep intelligent women interested in agricultural research

and development, from realizing their full potentials. Hence, the

women in various research establishments remain less educated then

their male counterparts. Advanced degrees are sinqua-non to

effective research performance in the Universities and at Research


Identifying women to be trained has always been a critical

question. Thus, it is considered a major accomplishment when we

are able to find ladies who are not only intelligent but also very

hardworking and consider pregnancy or single parenthood as no

barriers to their research activities. Two such ladies are Mrs.

Mary Muwali Meboka and Ms. Anne Sama Eyango. These ladies have

been part of the core research scientists involved at the Root and

Tubers Research Project(ROTREP), a USAID funded project in

Cameroon. A major objective of this project is the breeding and

selection of cocoyams (Xanthosoma sagittifolium, Schott), for the

development of clones and varieties that are tolerant of, or

resistant to a root-rot disease complex. The senior author served

as team leader for the Cocoyam Breeding and Selection activities on

the Project from May, 1988 to May, 1990.

Mrs. Mary M. Meboka, a Cameroonian graduated in 1987 from the

Institute of Agricultural Technology (ITA) Program of the

University Center, Dschang. After an 18 month stint with the

Ministry of Agriculture, Mrs. Meboka was reassigned to the

Institute of Agricultural Research (IRA) at her request in 1989.

She was then sent to ROTREP, located at the Ekona Research Center

of IRA. Ms. Anne S. Eyango also a graduate of ITA, joined

ROTREP/IRA, in 1988. She obtained a M.S. degree in Horticulture

(Tissue Culture) from Colorado State University in May, 1993 and

has since returned to her post at Ekona. These two ladies have

been actively involved in the Cocoyam Breeding and Selection

aspects of the project at the laboratory and field levels. Their

performances in the research thought process and implementation of

scientific ideas far exceeded their official classification as

senior technicians.

The pictures presented here, provide evidence of their

activities in ROTREP, despite being an expectant mother, and a

single parent. Regional conferences organized by the United

Nations Development Program in 1988 stressed the need for reporting

these types of activities in order to substantiate the

contributions women can make or are making not only in the

"informal sector" but also the "formal sector" of the economies of

developing countries.


(a) Field experimentation.

Because of the nature of ROTREP several field experiments have

been performed by these two ladies. These include checking

petioles and roots for disease symptoms, extracting cocoyam roots

to be used for isolation, purification and mass culturing of the

suspected causal agents) of the disease complex. Other field

activities have involved the determination of petiole lengths,

corm, and cormel yields, and pollination of flower induced cocoyam


(a) Laboratory Research Activities

For an overall varietal production, several qualitative traits

were evaluated. Also, part of the project was concerned with

tissue culturing of cocoyams for the rapid multiplication of

cocoyam plants once disease resistant varieties are developed.

Thus, Anne and Mary were involved in media preparation, identifying

and obtaining appropriate explants, and subsequent transfer and

culturing of these explants. Additionally, they researched on the

protein, moisture and ash contents of macabo cocoyams. Similarly,

for pathological research, these two ladies performed microscopic

examination of cultures for oospores, zoospores, conidia, and

mycelial development of the disease causal agentss; and the

evaluation of fungal growth of samples from different locations in

the Southwest and South provinces of Cameroon.

(c) Germplasm collection.

Perhaps the most demanding research activity carried out by

these ladies was the collection of germplasm from different parts

of Cameroon even when Mrs. Meboka was five months pregnant. These

ladies travelled through very difficult terrain and climbed

mountains including one that was over 2,000m high to visit a 450-

year old farm to collect cocoyam accessions for inclusion in the

breeding population at the Ekona Research Center. This was a

highlight of the research activities for these ladies.


With the current shortage of women interested in agricultural

research, recommendations of young women like Mary and Anne for

advanced degrees should become a regular feature in development

(AID/Grant) Programs to enhance the role of women in Agricultural

Research and Development. On the basis of previous experiences,

these authors believe that women in both rural and urban

environments are more receptive to improved agricultural technology

and other innovations when introduced by members of the same



(a) Mrs. Mary Muwali Meboka


October 3, 1961, in Tombel, Southwest Province,


Elementary School:

Secondary School:

Professional School:

G.S. Ekona Yard, Ekona

G.H.S. Mbengwi (Baumenda)

Institute of Agricultural Technology
(ITA), University Center, Dschang,

Work Experience:

MINAGRIC: July, 1987-March, 1989
Institute of Agronomic
Research (IRA), Ekona: October, 1986 to date.
Seconded to ROTREP Ekona: March, 1987.

Research and Professional Interests:

Breeding, Genetics and Phytopathology of food crops.


Gardening, Crochet, Reading, and Home games.

Marital Status:

Married to Dr. Meboka of Kumba, Southwest
Province, Cameroon.

(b) Ms. Anne Sama Eyango


June 28, 1962 in Tiko, Southwest Province, Cameroon.


Elementary School:

Secondary School:

Professional Schools:


Cameroon Baptist Convention (CBC),
Moliwe, Limbe

Saker Baptist Collect, Limbe.

Cameroon College of Arts, Sciences
and Technology (CCAST), Bambili,

Institute of Agricultural Technology
(ITA), University Center, Dschang,

Colorado State University, Fort
Collins, Colorado.
M.S. (Horticulture-Tissue Culture)-
May, 1993.

Work Experience:

MINAGRIC: July-October, 1989.
Institute of Agronomic
Research (IRA), Ekona: October, 1986 to date
Seconded to ROTREP Ekona: March, 1987

Research and Professional Interests:

Phytopathology and Tissue Culture of Food Crops.


Reading, dancing, travelling and indoor games.

Marital Status:


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