GENNOVATE special issue draws on the voices of women and men in agriculture

by Carolyn Cowan

A diverse and inclusive agricultural framework can be fostered by involving both women and men from different socioeconomic backgrounds and age groups in agricultural innovation interventions. Such an approach can ensure equitable access to resources while stimulating local innovation and development outcomes. Achieving this aim is a complex task. Gender-focused agricultural research for development can inform and streamline the process.

A special issue of the Journal of Gender, Agriculture and Food Security comprises a set of six studies drawing on data collected for the GENNOVATE initiative – a CIMMYT-led, cross-CRP global comparative research initiative, part-funded by the CGIAR Research Program on Maize (MAIZE). The initiative gathered the perspectives and experiences of over 7000 women and men from diverse backgrounds and varied age groups in 137 rural communities across 26 countries during individual interviews, focus groups and community discussions. The special issue reveals a lot about what influences women’s and men’s agency and empowerment to utilize agricultural innovations to improve their livelihoods.

A maize farmer collects her harvest. Photo: P.Lowe/CIMMYT

Central to the studies is the concept of gender ‘norms’ which are social rules surrounding women’s and men’s expected roles and behaviors. Such ‘norms’ can influence a person’s ability to access, adopt, adapt and benefit from innovations in agricultural and natural resource management.

Learnings from maize seed systems for smallholder farmers

by Carolyn Cowan

Access to optimal seed is vital for smallholder farmers to achieve high quality crops that give the best yield possible, allowing them to maximize financial and nutritional gains. Understanding and evaluating the methods by which smallholders obtain their seed is fundamental to guaranteeing farmers are receiving high quality seed that will support improved livelihoods.

CIMMYT Milpa Demonstration Garden celebrates the culture and history of landraces

by Carolyn Cowan

The ‘Milpa Demonstration Garden’ outside the genebank offices is flourishing this year. Planted and managed by the CIMMYT germplasm bank staff, this project has been providing color and charm at the El Batan campus through the late summer for several years.

The motivation for the project is to provide a talking point that links the rigorous science of CIMMYT’s largely monoculture-based research work with traditional Mesoamerican polyculture, known as milpa. Typically, the milpa agricultural system is centered on three main crops – often termed the ‘three sisters’ – maize, beans and squash.