CGIAR Gender

The Pulse: Ranjitha Puskur

Ranjitha Puskur
Gender Research Coordinator
CGIAR Research Program on Rice
International Rice Research Institute

Research conducted by the CGIAR Research Program on Rice highlights that women contribute significantly to rice production all over the world. However, these contributions in the rice sector are often overlooked, and our studies have unveiled that women rice farmers face gendered barriers in access to agricultural inputs and technologies that holds the potential of effectively increasing their productivity. To overcome these barriers, my research teams and I are focusing on looking at labor saving technologies and farm mechanization that are relevant for women rice farmers – who provide labor for back-breaking rice farming operations like manual transplanting and weeding. We know that, if adopted, these technologies can reduce women farmers’ drudgery, increase their leisure time, and time that they can devote to their children’s education and off-farm income generation activities. Women operating farm machinery is a new phenomenon in most parts of Asia and it is about challenging social norms in many contexts. We are testing models to develop mechanization service provision by women’s groups to have a wider reach and also create income generating opportunities. In Phase 2 of this CGIAR Research Program, we are assessing what it takes to develop such models and what works in different contexts. We also plan to go a step further with our research to analyze how the adoption of mechanization technologies can impact women’s health and empowerment.

In CRP Rice we are develop and target the delivery of gender responsive stress-tolerant rice varieties. In this context, we are mapping the trait preferences of women farmers and women consumers, while understanding the reasons behind their choices. In this undertaking, it is critical that we engage with, and understand, social informal institutions that mediate women’s access to, and effective utilization of, new rice varieties. However, as researchers we should be careful in conceptualizing all women (and men) as one homogenous group. For example, in understanding  trait preferences, we should also pay due attention to a bundle of social identities, such as, ethnicity, caste, age, etc., as well as gender. I think that this intersectionality lens will help us to benefit a wider group of men and women farmers through development and dissemination of varieties that meet their needs and are adopted.