IRRI: Stress tolerant for Africa and South Asia (Phase 2)
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Permanent link to cite or share this item: https://hdl.handle.net/10568/36161
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Context: This project developed a standardized data collection procedure to make women’s participation in rice cultivation visible. There is a need to reduce the gap between men and women in terms of access to technologies, technical knowledge and capacity enhancing programs. Research on family cultivation among the rural poor, acknowledges women as farmers. Though discriminated against, on closer examination they are active participants in breeding, cultivation and harvesting. IRRI is interested in shifting research from yield to market-oriented breeding but there is a need to better understand the demand-side context – what types of varieties and qualities are valued. Knowledge and technologies that influence livelihood progress typically go to landowners – men. The goal is to use aggregated data that quantify female labour contributions to demonstrate to rice breeding researchers the ways women both influence and are influenced by technologies within the rice production system. The emphasis is on how to ensure women farmers have access to technologies that both increase livelihoods and capacity and productivity in the broader rice production system. For instance, women who take care of livestock prefer varieties with long stock for quality animal fodder. At the household scale women want varieties that can cook faster and remain softer throughout the day in order to reduce overall time spent cooking in order to focus on other activities. Interface: Baseline data is collected in 11 rice producing communities in Bangladesh and Nepal to quantify primary and secondary labour contributions made by women in rice production. This is done in order to make these contributions visible to breeders and to transmit relevant information about preferred varieties from the communities back to breeders in the research community. Through the participatory varietal selection protocol, IRRI researchers and NARS intermediaries are encouraged to ensure that 30% of participants involved in varietal selection methods are women from farming households. Women are invited to vote on top two varieties and are separately consulted to better understand why specific varieties were chosen. Learning: Types of varieties depend on end-use among women (including animal fodder, household food source or yields and harvesting for market). Criteria used for varietal selection are different between men and women and between those with varied socioeconomic needs. This information was exchanged through participatory process. Women choose varieties that cook faster, or that can be used for other purposes such as snacks, and that are easier to harvest and thresh. The poor choose coarse grain to fill stomachs and finer grains are chosen for market. This information provides clues to breeders about contextual needs, values and norms and the types of technologies are relevant and legitimate within these contexts and also the types of strategies employed under climate variability. Including women in the exchange of information contributes to changes in traditional norms, “loosened rigidity”. In certain cultures such as Bangladesh, women need to be consulted separately by female researchers. In India, women from upper and lower castes are consulted separately. Women are speaking about their preferences more openly and getting access to technical information and seeds that they otherwise would not have access to. This is changing both the nature of research, assumptions about women’s invisible role in agriculture, and also in cultural norms demonstrating that women have relevant knowledge and an ability to influence technical learning and uptake. This can be seen in the increase of women’s self-help groups in India and the ‘empowerment’ of women’s voice in Bangladesh which Paris attributes to the rise of micro-credit NGOs providing women with opportunity. Learning extended to how women and men cope differently to climate variability: • Women are anticipatory, collecting surplus supplies such as wood and cow dung, to prepare for droughts or floods; men are focused on production, getting the best yield and returns in the short-term. • Women develop rooted social networks to cope after drought/flood events; men seek opportunities elsewhere. This learning provides information about current adaptive strategies that can help identify strategic vulnerability reduction and capacity- building opportunities to climate variability over the short and long term. Channel: IRRI has created a position to assess consumer demand in the supply value chain. Breeders have changed and are breeding for market rather than yield now. In this way, IRRI is breeding for consumers so differentiated characteristics are becoming increasingly important. Outcome: A participatory varietal selection protocol, including guidance on ways of including women and seeking participation at appropriate times (harvest), was developed to be used by extension agents from National Adaptation Research Services (NARS). Monitoring is required both to see how women are being included and to what extent this inclusion is influencing learning in the development of varieties and uptake of seeds used by women (both are becoming greater requirements from donors). There are still cultural difficulties with intermediaries using lack of budget as an excuse for not inviting women. There is anecdotal evidence that the beneficial qualities of particular seeds are transmitted along robust social networks of women. Further monitoring of what types of learning travels and how far it extends could contribute to insights about the potential and the ways to accelerate adaptive capacity using women’s networks.
Describes experiences of: IRRI, National Adaptation Research Services (NARS)