About Us

About Us

Nigerian Women in Agricultural Research for Development (NiWARD)

was created to give Nigerian scientists and agricultural researchers who have been chosen as African Women in Agricultural Research and Development (AWARD) Fellows, a much needed platform to transfer the knowledge and skills gained through the Fellowship Program to transform the rural agricultural sector in Nigeria. Through NiWARD, the Fellows, their mentors and mentees will work to empower and build the capacity of rural farmers including women and their communities to fight hunger, malnutrition, and poverty. Additionally, their efforts in collaboration with rural farming communities will transform the Nigerian agricultural sector and push the National Agricultural Transformation Agenda forward, in line with the Government’s policy to grow this sector.

As participants in AWARD, a career-development program that equips top women agricultural scientists across sub-Saharan Africa to accelerate agricultural gains by strengthening their research and leadership skills through tailored fellowships, the Nigerian fellows are perfectly placed to drive the growth of the rural agricultural sector all over the country. NiWARD will serve as the platform for Nigerian AWARD fellows to “contribute to the prosperity and well-being of African smallholder farmers, most of whom are women.” NiWARD is comprised of over 200 AWARD fellows in addition to mentors, mentees, and volunteers from Nigerian Universities, Agricultural Research Institutes, Agricultural NGOs, and the Private Sector. The fellows represent the following disciplines: Agricultural economics, Agricultural engineering, Agronomy, Animal and livestock sciences, Aquatic resources and fisheries, Biodiversity conservation, Crop sciences, Ecology, Entomology, Extension education, Molecular biology (plant/animal breeding),  and Natural resources.

NiWARD was launched May 4, 2013 at the Centre for Gender Issues in Science and Technology (CEGIST) of the Federal University of Technology, Akure during the inaugural meeting of the Nigerian AWARD Fellows, Mentors and Mentees. The meeting was both critical and significant for brainstorming how the research and work of the Fellows can transform the rural agriculture sector in Nigeria in a meaningful way. Unlike other Fellows from other African countries, the Fellows in Nigeria were unable to achieve their personal goals due to lack of funding and support for their projects. During the inaugural meeting, a proposal and a strategy for the way forward was developed with the support of the Former Minister of Agriculture, Dr. Akinwande Adesina. He recognized the need for an initiative like NiWARD and was ready to provide appropriate support to the endeavours of the Fellows, their Mentors and Mentees. Dr. Adesina who has implemented similar programs in Malawi and won the YARA Award for his achievement is convinced that the Nigerian AWARD Fellows can use NiWARD to partner with the Federal Ministry of Agriculture to achieve the Agricultural Transformation Agenda (ATA) to empower the Rural Female Farmers in Nigeria.


Dr. Stella Williams , is the founder of NiWARD. A former Member of Steering Committee (SC) 2008-2012 and Former Chair of African Women in Agricultural Research and Development (AWARD) representing West Africa, 2009-2011. Stella Williams is a retired Professor of Agricultural Economics, Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU, formerly, University of Ife), Ile-Ife, Osun State 1983-2008). She serves as Vice Chair, Board of Trustees of the Center for International Potato (CIP), CGIAR, Lima, Peru. She is also the Vice President, Mundus maris asbl (Art, Science and Sustainability of the Sea), Brussels, Belgium. Stella Williams has served on several International, Regional and National Boards as well as on various Expert Groups for the last three decades. She is a Fellow of Fisheries Society of Nigeria, African Association of Agricultural Economics and a Fulbright Fellow, 2003-2004. Stella Williams holds a PhD in Fisheries and Allied Aquaculture from Auburn University, Auburn, Alabama, USA.


Prof. M. Tolulope Olaleye, Director, Centre for Gender Issues and in Science and Technology (CEGIST), Federal University of Technology, Akure (FUTA), Ondo State. Prof. Olaleye (MTO), holds a PhD degree in Applied Biochemistry from the Federal University of Technology, Akure, (FUTA) Nigeria. She joined the services of the Federal University of Technology in February 1995 as a Graduate Assistant and rose through the ranks to become Professor in October 2012. She is the current Director of the Centre for Gender in Science and Technology (CEGIST), FUTA, June 2015 to date. Her main field of research is toxicology. She specializes in the phytochemistry, pharmacology and toxicology of medicinal plants relevant in the management of some degenerated diseases like hypertension, diabetes, neurological disorders and ulcer. She is a member of several professional bodies including the Organization of Women in Science for Developing World (formerly – Third World Academy of Science based in Trieste, Italy); Nigerian Society of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Biotechnology Society of Nigeria. MTO is a reviewer to African Journal of Biotechnology, Kenya, African Journal of Biochemistry Research, Kenya, Journal of Hazardous Materials, Journal of Medicinal Plants, Kenya, African Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmacology, Kenya. She serves as external examiner to a number of universities at home. Prof. Olaleye has authored and co-authored about 50 publications including peer-reviewed journal publications and conference proceedings. She is happily married.

Olabukunola Williams (Buky) is a Coordinator for Nigerian Women in Agricultural Research for Development (NiWARD). She works with accomplished female Agricultural Research Scientists to transfer knowledge, research expertise and skills for the development of rural smallholder farming systems in Nigeria. Prior to moving back to Nigeria to work with the Initiative, she was the Darfur Dream Team Sister Schools Program Manager at the Enough Project, a project of the Center for American Progress to end genocide and crimes against humanity She realized her deep commitment to global issues, economic development and gender equality while receiving a Bachelor’s degree in Global Policy Studies at Chatham University. She also holds a Master’s in International Peace Studies with a focus in Development and Peace from the University for Peace in San Jose, Costa Rica

Emike Aken’Ova is a Coordinator for Nigerian Women in Agricultural Research for Development (NiWARD).