Enhancing adoption through gender-responsive technologies

Understanding gender-specific constraints to agricultural technology adoption: Evidence from cassava farming in Kenya

Carly Trachtman

Women subsistence farmers in developing countries often have lower levels of agricultural productivity than men, partially due to lower adoption rates of agricultural technologies. These lower adoption rates may be due to lack of physical access to new technologies or lack of access to information about new technologies, among other explanations. In this study, we consider these two classes of explanations of low technology use among women and test the relative impacts of interventions designed to combat each. Specifically, we consider adoption of a climate-resistant, early maturing cassava variety by women farmers. Using a randomized control trial with a 2x2 matrix treatment design, we plan to test the effects of two interventions on cassava adoption by women farmers: delivering cassava seeds to women farmers at their homes (improved access), and hiring women “lead farmers” to diffuse information about cassava seeds (improved information access). Results from a small pilot in six villages suggest that (1) men lead farmers are less likely than women lead farmers to train women household members during a household visit (despite all lead farmers being explicitly instructed to train women), and (2) women farmers almost unanimously prefer to receive training from a woman lead farmer. Pilot results also provide insights on ways that the treatments can be improved, such as lead farmers providing follow-up training visits. These preliminary findings support the viability and importance of employing women trainers in teaching women farmers about new agricultural technologies.

A systems approach to sustainable and inclusive farmer-led irrigation development: A case analysis from Nepal

Labisha Uprety

Farmer-led irrigation development (FLID) in Nepal has been mostly synonymous with farmer-managed surface irrigation rather than broadly encompassing all farmer-led decisions, including small-scale choices. Many of the elements that affect farmer’s adoption of social, technological or institutional innovations in irrigation and agriculture are interconnected and need systemic examination to present a thorough analysis. This paper presents a systemic analysis to better understand opportunities and barriers to farmer-led irrigation development in Nepal, especially for smallholders and women farmers. This is done by characterizing systemic barriers and opportunities shaped by policy environments, agricultural value chains, irrigation supply chains, private-public interventions, gender equality and social inclusion (GESI) and new drivers such as COVID-19. The focus is on their intrinsic connections and mapping the ecosystem in which FLID is embedded. This paper is based on extensive qualitative literature and policy review, coupled with primary data obtained through telephone interviews analyzing socioeconomic policies, institutions, markets, and GESI-related barriers and opportunities in Nepal. The outcome is a comprehensive framework for sustainable and inclusive FLID.

Would a gender lens assessment of crop breeding traits improve varietal product profiling? Application of the G+ Tools on the target table potato product profile for Kenya

Sarah Mayanja

In sub-Saharan Africa, low adoption of improved varieties has been linked to breeding programs failing to consider end-user trait preferences and the interplay with gender. Recently, efforts have commenced assessing the gender responsiveness of product profile proposals during variety development, testing and dissemination. The study uses a multi-stage approach to examine the gender responsiveness of Kenya's target table potato product profile. First, the G+ product profile tool was employed to examine the likelihood of the selected traits exacerbating gender disparity across four domains: unpaid labor, access to farm and external resources, and control over benefits based on a literature review. Key informant interviews and a multi-stakeholder workshop followed, to build consensus on the gendered assessment.

Findings show that tuber yield is associated with increased demand for women's unpaid labor during harvesting and sorting, and greater requirement for inputs—to which women have limited access. Respondents in the multi-stakeholder workshop highlighted the potential of dry matter to increase women's unpaid labor due to increased preparation time. Moreover, the trait may increase marketability, thus attracting men and displacing women processors from income-generating nodes. We therefore recommend that gender-responsive techniques designed by a multidisciplinary team (and complementary technologies) accompany the dissemination and promotion of the resultant variety. This would minimize gender inequalities and stimulate equal benefits for women and men.

Gender-based assessment of rice and rice seed production in Nioro hub, Senegal

Maimouna Ndour

In the central part of Senegal, farmers are threatened by abiotic stressors such as salinity and toxicity, such that farmers abandoned rice farming in some areas. The pressures to sustain the farmers’ livelihood sources are intense, involving land hire in the less-affected areas. From a gender perspective, these conditions are particularly worrying because they compromise the essential role of the woman in the household; rice-growing for food in the lowland fields is a traditional activity of the woman, the man is involved in cash crop production in upland ecology (groundnut and millet). Hence producing rice is the woman’s contribution to the household’s food consumption, noting that men are involved in growing upland rice, with the introduction of suitable varieties. This study investigated the women- and men-specific seed needs, challenges and opportunities to make rice (and rice seed production) more beneficial to women, by providing them with stress-tolerant varieties for lowlands and identifying sustainable business model adoption and dissemination. We conducted focus groups in three villages with separate groups of women, men and young people, and quantitative data collection with a sample of 60 farmers in each village to identify the constraints to rice farming and assess producers’ awareness of improved varieties. The abiotic stressors decimated the crops, and then stress-tolerant varieties and production of seeds sparked a new interest in rice cultivation in this region. Additional efforts are required to implement sustainable business models for seed production.