Gender Dimensions in Agriculture: Sustainable Rice Innovations Make an Impact
Lucy Fisher and Rupa Laxmi Shah
SRI Internat...
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1327- Gender dimensions in agriculture


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Title: Gender Dimensions in Agriculture- Sustainable Rice Innovations Make an Impact.
Authors : Lucy Fisher and Rupa Laxmi Shah
Presented at: International Women's Day Event at the panel on The Feminization of Agriculture: Truths and Consequences, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY.
Date: March 8, 2013.

Published in: Technology
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1327- Gender dimensions in agriculture

  1. 1. Gender Dimensions in Agriculture: Sustainable Rice Innovations Make an Impact Lucy Fisher and Rupa Laxmi Shah SRI International Network and Resources Center (SRI-Rice), CIIFAD, Cornell University THE SYSTEM OF RICE INTENSIFICATION (SRI) AND GENDER The System of Rice Intensification (SRI) is a climate-smart, agroecological methodology for increasing the productivity of rice and other crops by changing the management of plants, soil, water and nutrients. Now proven beneficial in over 50 countries, SRI methods increase productivity of resources used in rice cultivation, while reducing requirements for water, seed, synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides and often labor. (See Some of the ways SRI affects women include: • Allocation of labor- Though weeding can increase with SRI, overall , less time is needed for activities usually assigned to women: Nursery management and transplanting fewer, smaller seedlings is faster and easier. This frees their time for other activities (such as vegetable growing for profit or improved family diet) and enables other family members to seek non-farm employment, diversifying household income.) (See figure 1 at right.) • Income - Higher yields with less purchased inputs are increasingly important for women as more men migrate to cities to seek employment. • Health - Exposure to agrochemicals and stooping long hours in submerged fields are reduced. Growing more food at less cost can lead to better nutrition, especially for women and children. Reducing water use with SRI can lower arsenic levels in rice, and, in Kenya, has been shown to break the breeding cycle of mosquitos causing malaria. [ ] [] Small farmers in Cambodia often grow a single, rainfed rice crop per year on less than 1 hectare, so offfarm employment is increasing and the face of farming is changing. SRI methods are reducing the workload and altering time management. Men frequently migrate to cities for work; younger women are also working more off-farm, especially in garment factories and in nearby towns. Older, married women (30+) are more sedentary and continue to farm, so they receive most SRI trainings. Women are most engaged in seedling preparation and weeding, with transplanting and uprooting increasingly left to older women. Fig. 1 Allocation of Saved Labor Time From SRI Farming to Different Activities by Percentage of Women and Men (N=636) How do women spend their time? Since there is less heavy labor for uprooting and seedling preparation with SRI, women have more time. As shown in Fig. 1, they spend it on domestic work, paid work on other farms and backyard livelihoods. Resurreccion, Bernadette P. and Edsel E. Sajor. 2008. Gender Dimensions of the Adoption of the System of Rice Intensification (SRI) in Cambodia. Oxfam America. System of Rice Intensification website. GENDER AND SRI IN INDIA: FROM THE PRESS IN INDIA India: More rice, More women, More SRI • India has the largest number of SRI adopters worldwide. (N.Uphoff) • India is among the largest producers of rice in the world. • Over half of the population of India’s farmers are involved in production of rice. • Women provide one half of the labor in rice cultivation in India. • Over 80 percent of population involved in farming are women so changes in method of farming will directly affect them. WOMEN AND SRI IN CAMBODIA Pradan Finds Success with SRI and Women’s Groups in Odisha Rural Champions of Change 5,600 Madhya Pradesh women marched to gain access to resources – including SRI info. onal/other-states/rural-championsof-change/article2941702.ece WEEDING: MORE OR LESS LABOR? Basanti Hembrum, 60, a widow from Khadi Kudar, Odisha, is widely known as a successful woman farmer, who uses SRI methods to save water and seeds while increasing yields. "After the death of my husband a feeling of helplessness overpowered me. There was neither food at home nor work in the village. I decided to migrate to work on a construction site. Those were very difficult years, my five children dropped out of school and we hardly had a roof over our head," she recalls. After learning about the SRI from Pradan in her village and quickly adopted it. The rest is history. "I now get enough from my farm to lead a normal, self-sufficient life in my village." [] Woman Farmer in TN Wins National Award for SRI Harvest The Union Govt.’s ‘Krishi Karman Award’ was presented Jan. 15, 2013, to T. Amalarani by India’s President Mukherjee in New Delhi. SRI PROMPTS WOMEN IN NORTHERN MALI TO CULTIVATE THE “MAN’S CROP” In the north of Mali, rice is considered a man’s crop. Women do not cultivate rice on their own although they help out with tedious tasks such as removing seedlings from the nurseries, weeding, and threshing. Even though women do not usually plant rice, women were encouraged to participate in Africare’s SRI training. • In many parts of the world, women are tasked with weeding. Surprisingly, the village of Findoukaina selected two members of the women’s group, Maya Abdoulaye (right) and Maya Hama, to participate. Like all the women in Findoukaina, neither of them had ever grown rice before. But they were helped by all 20 members of the women’s group to establish and manage the SRI plots, closely following the technical advice from the Africare field agent. • SRI can increase labor if weeding is done by hand, since using less water can increase weed growth. • Conoweeders reduce time and energy needed for weeding. • However, equipment design and extension needs to be more gender sensitive. The conoweeder can reduce labor for women. • The use of the mechanical weeders also makes weeding more acceptable to men… which in turn further reduces the burden of weeding for women. They did all the work themselves—plowing, field leveling, and planting—with no help from the men (left). Maya Abdoulaye added: ‚This year, we learned about SRI. Next year, all 20 group members will plant their own SRI fields.‛ *Despite the very late arrival of water in the 2009-2010 season, over half of the women in the cooperative planted their own rice fields using SRI practices, including Maya Abdoulaye.] Source: Africare, Oxfam America, WWF-ICRISAT Project. 2010. More Rice for People, More Water for the Planet. Hyderabad: WWF-ICRISAT Project. Maya Abdoulaye in her field. GENDER DIMENSIONS OF SRI ADOPTION IN VIETNAM A recent trend in Vietnam is for women over 40 years old to be the primary rice farmers. Historically, men and women share many of the tasks in rice farming. Men generally perform land preparation tasks, while seedling preparation, transplanting, and weeding is done by women. Harvesting is a shared task. Non-village-based and non-farm employment is becoming a more important source of income, and, is reconfiguring the distribution of workloads and decision-making processes in rural households. An Oxfam study about SRI adoption in Vietnam, revealed that women actively engage in SRI application. Some of the findings included: • Women are often the first member in the family to be receptive to SRI. • About 70% of Farmer Field School (FFS) participants are female farmers. • Female graduates from SRI FFS often promotes 5-8 farmers to adopt SRI while the rate for men is only 1-3 • Female SRI adopters in Ha Noi, Ninh Binh and Yen Bai provinces reported that immediate savings due to SRI’s lower costs help them ease the pressure from short-term credit needs and cover expenses for children. • The tangible economic benefits from SRI give women a greater voice in their families. FFS graduates in DÔng Trú village, Ha Noi Province training others in SRI Women’s uptake of SRI has been remarkable. The key difference is that women are more likely to exchange labor and support each other in critical steps of SRI farming such as seedbed preparation, transplanting, and team discussion. The labor exchange starts with a small group of relatives, and then extends to neighbors and farmers whose land parcels are in the same place. Abstracted from: Nguyen Xuan Nguyen et al. (January 2010). Study on adoption of the System of Rice Intensification in Northern provinces of Vietnam. A report by commissioned by Oxfam America. ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS: Content contributions: Olivia Vent, Erika Styger, Norman Uphoff and Shipra Singh Poster support: Jeevan Gyawali