Posts Tagged ‘gender’

The Hill Maize Research Project brings ‘new hope’ to women farmers in Nepal

Ladies-cobs-02Capable of being grown on sloping fields, without need for terracing or irrigation, maize is a vital crop in the mid-hills of Nepal, particularly among poorer families and disadvantaged groups. It accounts for 20 percent of calorie intake in the country, and is typically grown in small fields (average land holding in the hills is half a hectare) by families who spend 75 percent of their income on food. Harsh climate, poor infrastructure and market access, and worsening shortages of labor, are just some of the challenges they face, with crop yields also constrained by poor access to a supply of quality seed. In recent years, however, work by the Hill Maize Research Project (HMRP) is helping to address these constraints and have a positive impact on farm productivity.

Can men and women benefit equally from agricultural innovation?

“We’re in charge.  Women know very well how to farm here,” explained patiently a young woman from San Gabriel de las Molinas, a hillside village three hours west of Mexico City where maize is critical to local livelihoods.  Part of a focus group discussion that CRP MAIZE was facilitating, the woman was directly challenging a question suggesting that the village men were more productive farmers than the women.  Indeed, this was not an ordinary focus group about local farming.  This was part of the first pilot exercise to get the data collection tools ready for exploring gender norms and capacities for agricultural innovation in potentially 60 other villages around the world.

What can agricultural policy learn from a more gender-equal world?

 

Kenyan woman fertilizing maizeKenyan women are crucial to the country’s agricultural economy, contributing 54 percent of agricultural labor-hours. Widowhood, reduced marriage rates and labor migration have led to female-headed households (FHHs) becoming significantly more common in Africa. A recent study conducted in Kenya also shows that FHHs are twice as likely as their male counterparts to suffer chronic food insecurity.