By Katrine Danielsen and Franz F. Wong, Gender Advisors with the Royal Tropical Institute (KIT)
In order to understand gender-based dimensions and differences in MAIZE and to leverage this knowledge so that interventions can better address gender-specific needs, MAIZE undertook a gender audit of its activities in 2013.
Carried out by researchers from KIT (a Dutch knowledge institute), the audit comprised surveys, documentation analysis, focus group discussions and more than 100 individual interviews involving a variety of organizations and program partners (including women and men farmers). The Gender Audit was based around four key questions: how is gender currently addressed and how can this be strengthened; the capacity of project teams to conduct gender-aware research; how different program functions affect gender integration; and how the CRP’s approach to gender is influenced by its understanding of what counts as ‘knowledge.’
Capable 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.
Farming communities re-shape the landscapes they depend on, with a potentially strong impact on the agro-ecosystem. Efforts to intensify cereal production must take account of the potential trade-offs, and the opportunities opened by an integrated systems approach. The ATTIC project proposes 10 principles for farm systems analysis.
By Pablo Titonell, Professor of Farming Systems, Wageningen University