Embedding gender in conservation agriculture R4D in Sub-Saharan Africa: relevant research questions. GENNOVATE resources for scientists and research teams


Conservation agriculture (CA) has received considerable attention as a cost-saving, soil and water-conserving set of practices in many farming systems around the world. It is built around a core set of interlocking soil and water-conserving practices which help to create a closed and interdependent farming system. The core practices are minimum tillage, soil cover – including retention of residues, and crop diversification. CA is widely considered as having an important role to play in strategies contributing to global food security as well as improving resilience and adaptation to climate change. However, currently adoption rates are often low and weakly sustained beyond the lifetimes of CA projects. An analysis of the current literature (Farnworth et al. 2015) shows that understandings of how gender relations influence CA adoption in sub-Saharan Africa is weakly researched though a few significant insights are provided by case studies, particularly in Malawi and Zambia. These indicate gender relations have a large effect upon CA adoption and adoption mechanisms. There is evidence that the position of women can be worsened, particularly when only one or two CA principles are adopted, and when no herbicides are used. Conversely, there is some tantalizing evidence that women are using their agency by adopting certain CA technologies, at least in part, to improve their own situations