Gender: gendered technology adoption and household food security in semi arid eastern kenya

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  • Project partners: KARI, McGill, KEMRI, MoA, FreshCo, Cascade
    Project Objectives:
    Better understand traditional food systems and drivers of food insecurity
    Catalyze the adoption and assess the impacts of agricultural innovations prioritized by farmers and assess mechanisms for scaling up these resilient farming practices
    Increase household consumption of locally-produced food and improve levels of nutrition and health, especially among hunger-prone women and children
    Strengthen links to local and external input and output markets to allow women and men to diversify household livelihoods
    Contribute to the formulation of resilience-focused policies to improve food security, livelihoods and environmental sustainability in the semi-arid regions, and to disseminate findings.
  • Decision-making processes at the household level, from choice of technology, to provision of labor for various agronomic steps, to marketing, were examined for four field crops (sorghum, maize, green grams, cowpeas) and two fruit tree crops (mangoes and pawpaws) in order to elucidate the underlying gender dynamics at play in the adoption process.
  • This paper compares adoption of agricultural innovations among members of the primary farmer groups in the project (PPATEs = Primary Participatory Agricultural Technology Evaluations), the secondary project farmer groups (SPATEs = Secondary Participatory Agricultural Technology Evaluations), and members of farmer groups not associated with the project. Our survey further divided households into three categories: male-headed, male-headed-female-managed and female-headed. This categorization helped us to explore gender differences in farmers’ adoption patterns and outcomes.
  • Adoption is a cycle not a one-time decision. Considering the whole cycle illuminates gendered inequities that may impact women’s adoption choices:
    We view adoption as a cycle, that takes place over seasons. It may begin with a ‘decision to adopt.’ But the adoption decision requires action, including ploughing, planting, weeding and harvesting, processing sale and/or preparation for consumption. In the new season, the same decision-making and labor cycle begins again. As a crop may enter a market or a nutritional ‘value chain,’ the links in these chains begin on the farm, in the fields and in the household.
    It is this complex of decisions, resources and activities that instantiates the adoption cycle. Women’s typically low rate of adoption is far from a dysfunctional development phenomenon or lack of proper knowledge and attitude. It is more firmly grounded in women’s experience of various crops’ successes and failures and their balancing of resources, time and labor to contribute to their households’ daily subsistence.
  • Green grams are an emerging cash crop in the smallholder farming systems in Eastern Kenya. Women participate robustly in decision-making over choice of enterprise (crops), and in labor provision for ploughing, weeding, harvesting and marketing. In terms of share of income from sales, women fare less well in relation to men in their households.

    When we look at farmers involved in various types of farmer groups, women in groups most closely associated with the project are more involved in marketing activities than others. However, this does not carry through in terms of their control over the income from those marketing activities.

    Looking more deeply into the question, when we disaggregated by household type, we see a very clear distinction in women’s power over use of income. Only in female headed households do women maintain significant control over incomes, as compared to women in male-headed female-managed households, and especially in comparison to women in male-headed households.
  • Maize is a subsistence crop, the staple food crop in Kenya. It is also a highly marketable crop.

    Similarly to green grams, women participate in all phases of crop production. And women in farmer groups most closely associated with the project show a particular strength in marketing of the crop. But again, their use of income is less equal. This is especially evident when we disaggregate by household type.


  • Mangoes, like other tree crops, are permanent crops which have long term productive capacity and tend to require permanency of tenure. Therefore men are more likely to be responsible for this enterprise. But once the decision to adopt this crop is made, women’s labor is heavily relied upon in mango production and marketing. Again, use of income is more firmly in men’s hands.
  • Our
    In focusing on the rationale behind women’s adoption decisions, we discovered a potential key driver of adoption in ‘non-priced values’ (e.g., nutritional, ecological, institutional, educational), and located innovative measures of women’s empowerment in groups organization and in the geographic niches most soundly associated with the radius of mobility that women typically enjoy.
    analysis of the data is continuing in this direction.
  • Survey respondents compared the period before the start of the project in 2011 and the twelve months culminating in the month of the interview (February 2014).
    For the PPATE farmers, the number of households reporting shortage of food fell for all months after the project.
    For the SPATE farmers the number of people without enough food reduced slightly in the period after the project.
    For the non-project farmers, in several months (May, June, September and November), more people did not have enough food in 2014 than in 2011.
  • It has also long been noted that whether pursuing women’s engagement in a traditionally-male livelihood activity, such as goat-rearing, or improvements in a typically-female pursuit, such as cultivation of diverse varieties of bananas, when money begins to flow, men tend to become more interested in taking over the marketing aspect of the activity.
    To ensure that women gain their fair share of the benefits, both priced and non-priced benefits should be counted. Thus ‘fair share’ of benefits may involve sharing of cash income, but also enjoyment of non-priced values such as nutritious meals and supportive social interactions.
  • Gender: gendered technology adoption and household food security in semi arid eastern kenya

    1. 1. “Gendered technology adoption and household food security in semi-arid Eastern Kenya” Esther Njuguna, Leigh Brownhill, Esther Kihoro, Lutta Muhammad, Gordon Hickey Presented at the International Food Security Dialogue 2014 “Enhancing Food Production, Gender Equity and Nutritional Security in a Changing World” Sponsored By: Hosted By:
    2. 2. Outline • IntroductiontotheKARI-McGillprojectinKenya • Gender integration in the project objectives, activitiesandoutcomes • Gendersurvey • Methodology • Results • Discussion • Conclusions
    3. 3. Innovating for Resilient Farming Systems in Semi-Arid Eastern Kenya
    4. 4. Innovating for Resilient Farming Systems in Semi-Arid Eastern Kenya • Objectives: – Understand traditional food systems and drivers of food insecurity – Scale up the adoption and assess the impacts of agricultural innovations prioritized by farmers – Increase household consumption of highly- nutritious, traditional food crops – Strengthen links to input and output markets – Contribute to the formulation of resilience- focused policies
    5. 5. Integration of gender in all project activities • Gendered objectives • Gender strategy • Orphan crops and indigenous chicken: Women’s enterprises • 2/3 gender balance in farmer groups and project activities • Gender disaggregated prioritization • Training and farmer-to-farmer learning • Monitoring and evaluation of impacts
    6. 6. Women’s project participation 56% 37% 4% 2% 1% Project partners Female farmers (755) Male farmers (498) KARI (60) McGill (20) Others (10)
    7. 7. Gender survey: Adoption of agricultural innovations The objective of the study was to investigate the process of adoption by women smallholder farmers and how this is influenced by both endogenous and exogenous factors (e.g., household division of labor and limitations on women’s mobility).
    8. 8. Gender survey: Adoption of agricultural innovations (n = 405) PPATE SPATE Non-participating 187 136 82 FHH MHFM MHH 66 57 280 By farmer group type By household type SPATE SPATE SPATE
    9. 9. Results • We examined all stages of adoption decision- making, or the ‘adoption cycle.’ • This included decision to adopt a crop, ploughing, planting, weeding, harvesting, marketing and use of income. • Ongoing analysis considers other post-harvest aspects including household consumption.
    10. 10. Gendered participation in green gram enterprise by group-type and household-type 0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 90 100 Enterprise choice ploughing weeding harvesting marketing income use Women’s participation in green grams enterprise across household type FHH MHH MHFM 0 5 10 15 20 25 30 35 40 45 50 Enterprise choice ploughing weeding harvesting marketing income use Women’s participation in green gram enterprise across farmer group type PPATE SPATE Non project
    11. 11. Gendered participation in maize enterprise by group- type and household-type 0 5 10 15 20 25 30 35 40 45 50 Enterprise choice ploughing weeding harvesting marketing income use Women’s participation in maize enterprise across farmer group type PPATE SPATE Non project 0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 90 100 Enterprise choice ploughing weeding harvesting marketing income use Women’s participation in the maize enterprise by household type FHH MHH MHFM
    12. 12. Gendered participation in mango enterprise by group- type and household-type 0 5 10 15 20 25 30 35 40 Enterprise choice ploughing weeding harvesting marketing income use Women’s participation in mango enterprise across group type PPATE SPATE Non project 0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 90 100 Enterprise choice ploughing weeding harvesting marketing income use Women’s participation in mango enterprise by farmer group type FHH MHH MHFM
    13. 13. Discussion • We would have expected that in working with groups in which majority of members are women, and in dealing with what are traditional subsistence or food crops, that women would emerge as highly empowered in all aspects of the enterprise, including decisions over use of income. • This has not been the case. Women invest more labor than men but reap fewer rewards in terms of income. Why do they continue to farm these crops?
    14. 14. Non-priced benefits? • Income is not the only incentive for farming activities: • Sufficient provision of food for the household • Provision of nutritious, culturally appropriate foods for the family. • Ability to save seeds (selection, innovation) • Building social capital (gifts, contributions) • These are benefits that women control more than men • Ecological services: hummus, compost, nitrogen- fixing
    15. 15. Reduction of hunger is priceless… 0 5 10 15 20 25 30 35 40 45 50 January February March April May June July August September October November December PPATE BEFORE PPATE AFTER Percentage of households without sufficient food in given months, in 2011 and 2013
    16. 16. Farmer groups serve as an important form of social capital for women • In all categories, women participate in groups more than men. This emphasizes the social capital that women build, maintain, use and rely upon to strengthen their capacities as well as to compensate, to some degree, for lack of access to key assets (including income), through sharing of labor and resources. 0 10 20 30 40 50 60 ppate males ppate females spate male spate female np male np female % of farmers participating in farmer groups
    17. 17. Conclusion • Overall, we found that women adopted ‘orphaned’ or ‘high value’ traditional food crops robustly, alone or in cooperation with husbands or other male relatives. This was in contrast with fruit tree crops. • The results lead to a blurring of lines between what are known as men’s and women’s crops. • Group-work offers a socially-networked pathway towards improving household food security. When one woman farmer gains knowledge and experiences positive results, she is also likely to share with many other women in her social networks, enhancing the scaling-up of knowledge and technology adoption.
    18. 18. Acknowledgements Thank you to our funders, IDRC/DFATD; our institutions, KARI and McGill; the project research team and especially to the farmers of Eastern Kenya. A special thanks to the University of Alberta and all the organizers of the Dialogue.

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