Gender-intentional Breeding Approaches 

Alessandra Galiè, International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI)


Eva Salve Tino Bacud, Universitat Bonn, Germany

Understanding farmers’ trait preferences with an intersectional lens: Evidence in Bangladesh and India 
In breeding, trait preferences are often mixed. Men and women may prefer different traits but may also prefer similar traits and differ only in ranking. These contradicting results render difficulties in setting breeding priorities. When are preferences the same and when are they different? This requires analysis through an intersectional lens. The study’s overarching research question is, Do gender and other intersectionalities matter on farmers’ trait preferences? To answer this, the study clusters and characterizes producer groups based on intersectional identities and marginalization experiences using sequential multivariate analysis: Principal Component Analysis (PCA) and Cluster Analysis (CA). It utilizes cross-sectional data in Bangladesh and India. The study focuses on the intersection of gender, age, caste, class or wealth, education, and marital status to shape marginalization in terms of time use, risk exposure, and access to assets, markets, and information. Thereafter, it understands how they overlap and influence trait preferences within and across clusters. Multiplicative regression analysis is done to also capture intersectionality and check results' robustness from clustering. Among expected results are similar trait preferences between men, women, and both exist within the same cluster. Significant differences may be observed when comparing men, women, and both between clusters. Similarities in their preferred traits could imply that men can be as marginalized as women because marginalizations can be activated when gender overlaps with discriminating factors like low-caste, low-class, and low education. This study elucidates intersectionality applications in breeding and exemplifies how intersectionality can be captured in quantitative analysis.


Jummai O. Yila and Almamy Sylla, International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT)

Varietal Choice and Trait Preferences of Sorghum and Pearl Millet Value Chain Actors in Mali: A Case for Gender Responsive and Demand Driven Breeding Decision
Identifying and understanding the diversity of users of crop improvement products, and defining the traits choice of customers is necessary to address the limitation in developing crop varieties that are gender-responsive and demand-driven. In response to this limitation, the study assessed the varietal and traits choices of sorghum and pearl millet value chain actors and examine the socio-economic determinants of their varietal choices. This approach elicits the understanding, characterization of the various actors, the socioeconomic factors that interact to influence male and female actors' decisions in varietal selection, which is often unaddressed in most participatory approaches. Primary data were collected using a questionnaire administered to 612 respondents in the production, marketing, processing, and consumption nodes of the sorghum and pearl millet value chains. The data were analyzed using descriptive statistics, a multinomial logit regression model, and system dynamics modeling. The result revealed marked difference in the trait preferences of male and female actors in the producer node, whereas the preferences of actors in the marketer, processor, and consumer nodes were similar. At the producer node, female preferences tended toward food and grain quality traits while the males' preferences leaned more towards productivity and biotic stress resistance traits. Varietal trait preferences seem to be influenced by the resources and responsibilities male and female sorghum and pearl millet chain actors have with which they engage in production. The findings study provide the evidence needed to support gender equity in prioritizing the diverse and most important trait preferences of sorghum and pearl millet value chain actors in product development pipelines.


Jill E. Cairns, International Maize and Wheat Improvement Centre (CIMMYT)

Revisiting strategies to incorporate gender intentionality into maize breeding in southern Africa
There is strong focus on identifying women’s trait preferences to enable gender-intentional product development. In the case of maize, breeding programs are ready to incorporate specific traits to increase gender intentionality but lack guidance on gender-specific traits. Previous research has focussed on elucidating gender-specific traits in on-farm trials used for product evaluation. However, this approach does not reflect the real-life choices made by famers when choosing seed. An alternative, inductive approach would be to understand if there are differences in maize varieties currently grown by male and female plot managers within male and female households, learning from how the system currently works. A survey of maize varieties and agronomic practices used was conducted in Zimbabwe. By using logistic regression, we found gender-disaggregated preferences in variety use at the plot manager level but not at the household level. Varieties unlikely to be grown by female plot managers were previously chosen by the female plot managers as the best varieties in surveys around on-farm trials. These results highlight the mismatch between experimental results and real-life decisions. Intercropping was found to be significant predictors of the gender of both the plot manager and household head. Although further qualitative studies are ongoing, our results suggest that a trait-specific approach is not the only avenue towards increasing gender intentionality in maize breeding in southern Africa. A quick win towards increasing gender intentionality in maize breeding in southern Africa would be to screen advanced stages of breeding pipeline under agronomic management practices used by female farmers.


Rachel Voss, CIMMYT

Gender inclusivity through maize breeding: A review of the issues and options for future engagement
With the prioritization of social inclusion in agricultural development, donors and research centers have shown growing interest in gender-intentional varietal development and delivery. Breeding maize varieties that respond to gender-based differences in trait preferences now represents a central objective of maize R&D in the CGIAR and elsewhere. Drawing on wider literature on gender and crop breeding, we take stock of what is known about gender-based differences in trait preferences and the approaches to understanding them, with the aim of shedding light on options for future engagement on gender and maize breeding. While recent research on farmers’preferences for varieties of crops such as cassava, potato, and legumes has yielded insights into distinct preferences, we find that evidence of gendered preferences for maize varieties remains inconclusive. Ultimately, we identify several obstacles to achieving impact through maize breeding, including a lack of clarity around gender differentiated preferences, methodological and conceptual challenges in understanding women and men’s seed preferences and purchasing behaviors, and logistical concerns associated with breeding for gender-relevant traits. A wider evidence base is needed to inform gender-intentional breeding, incorporating broader analysis of demand that considers farmer agency and aspirations, intrahousehold decision-making, and seed access dynamics. We close by identifying key knowledge gaps and charting an agenda for future gender-intentional breeding.