How do social norms around gender influence the work of
agricultural development professionals? A recent workshop held in Mexico for
agricultural extension professionals – comprising 20 women and 26 men – turned
the spotlight on the topic of “masculinities”, defined as “a set of
attributes, values, and behaviors that are characteristic of being a man in a
given society and time.”
The workshop was organized by CIMMYT’s Gender and Social Inclusion Unit and facilitated by GENDES, a Mexican NGO that specializes on working with men on topics of gender and masculinities. The event was funded by the Mexican Government as part of the MasAgro project.
The majority of extension agents in Mexico are men and socially
and culturally constructed norms of how men should act directly impact the
ability of women farmers to access and benefit from rural advisory services. The
idea of discussing norms around masculinities came from the extension agents
themselves. One of the objectives of this workshop was to reflect upon the
concept of “machismo” in Mexico, and how it influences the extension work of
Scientists have unlocked evolutionary secrets of landraces through an unprecedented study of allelic diversity, revealing more about the genetic basis of flowering time and how maize adapts to variable environments, according to new research published in Nature Genetics journal. The discovery opens up opportunities to explore and use landrace diversity in new ways to help breeders adapt crops to climate change and other emerging challenges to crop production.
Agricultural research is changing. In order to have a greater impact, research must be relevant to a greater variety of farmers in different contexts, while being both applicable and adaptable.
Ways must also be found to solve institutional constraints, which are very often beyond the researchers’ sphere of control. Policies can be changed to allow community seed production, better connections established between maize producers and traders, extension systems strengthened or willing agro-dealers found to commercialize new seeds.
Dr. Bram Govaerts, associate director of CIMMYT’s global conservation agricultural program and leader of a joint CIMMYT-Government of Mexico major initiative known as the Sustainable Modernization of Traditional Agriculture (MasAgro), will receive the 2014 Norman Borlaug Award for Field Research and Application.