ISAAA AfriCenter participated in ILRI’s CapDev Grand Challenge research pitching contest that took place on 13th April, 2022. The Center had a sit on the judging panel that was tasked with reviewing 3-minute research pitches from 30 graduate students and research fellows from National Agricultural Research Systems (NARS) in countries where ILRI works. Each contestant was given three minutes to present an overview of their research project, after which a panel of seven judges had five minutes to ask the contestants questions about their research. According to Dr. Wellington Ekaya, Head of Capacity Development at ILRI, “the pitching contest is designed to build capacity around effective science communication and create momentum and excitement among the researchers as they take on soft skills training.”

Winners of the pitching contest were celebrated on the 19th April in a colourful event that was officiated by ILRI’s Assistant Director General, Dr. Shirley Tarawali, and Prof. Monty Jones, a renowned scientist and scholar, as well as the first African to win the World Food Prize. 

The CapDev Grand Challenge process is a highly complementary process that aims at equipping next-generation livestock sector professionals with leadership and interpersonal skills needed to be effective leaders and influencers after their academic/technical training. The second part of the Grand Challenge will see participants of the research pitching contest go through soft skills training and mentorship talks by renowned personalities from diverse fields and regions across the globe. The soft skills training and mentoring aim at strengthening their capabilities for systems thinking, science communication, public speaking and engagement, negotiation, effective team building and management, work ethics, and personal development. ISAAA AfriCenter will continue to support this initiative by building participants’ skills on effective science communication, including how to engage with policy makers, the media and how to develop responsive messages as well as tell science stories.