When designing and implementing agricultural development projects, it is difficult to ensure that they are responsive to gender dynamics. For Mulunesh Tsegaye, a gender specialist attached to two projects working on the areas of nutrition and mechanization in Ethiopia, participatory approaches are the best way forward.
“I have lived and worked with communities. If you want to help a community, they know best how to do things for themselves. There are also issues of sustainability when you are not there forever. You need to make communities own what has been done in an effective participatory approach,” she said.
A Royal Tropical Institute (KIT) study funded under the Competitive Grant Initiative of the MAIZE CRP, “Gender Matters in farm Power,” investigates how gender matters in small-scale farm power mechanization in African agriculture, particularly in maize-based systems in Ethiopia and Kenya. KIT collaborated with the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center’s (CIMMYT) Farm Power and Conservation Agriculture for Sustainable Intensification (FACASI) project on the study in order to leverage FACASI’s experience with national project partners and to build on and complement the project’s work.
By Frédéric Baudron, System Agronomist, CIMMYT
The goals of the Farm Power and Conservation Agriculture for Sustainable Intensification (FACASI) project are to address the issue of declining farm power in eastern and southern Africa, and reduce the labor burden that comes with low farm mechanization, by promoting small-scale mechanization based on two-wheel tractors. Farm power is particularly scarce for female-headed households (FHHs), who have limited access to human labor and often don’t own (or are culturally forbidden to operate) draft animals. FHHs are often the last households to access land preparation services, which leads to lower yields. Even in households headed by men, women supply most of the farm labor and perform highly labor-intensive tasks, such as weeding, threshing, shelling or transport of inputs and agricultural commodities to and from the market by head-loading.