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Reinforcing the gender lens in research on value chains and technology adoption

The following post by André Devaux, Claudia Babini, Diego Naziri, Caitlin Kieran, and Evgeniya Anisimova was originally published on the CGIAR Research Program on Policies, Institutions, and Markets website.

The CGIAR Research Programs on Policies, Institutions, and Markets (PIM) and on Roots, Tubers, and Bananas (RTB) have been collaborating on reinforcing the gender focus in research on value chains development and technology adoption for a few years now. In this post, our colleagues from the International Potato Center (CIP) share some recent updates on this work from Uganda and Latin America and Caribbean region.

Gender-sensitive value chain development


Cassava traders at a market in Uganda

Building on work developed by PIM and RTB in 2014 and 2015 to produce gender-sensitive tools to make value chain interventions more gender responsive, the International Potato Center (CIP) team in Uganda is now conducting gender analysis for on-going
postharvest research activities in the cassava, sweet potato, banana, and potato value chains. In December 2015, under auspices of the RTB project on Expanding Utilization of Roots, Tubers and Bananas and Reducing Their Postharvest Losses (RTB-ENDURE) and with support from PIM, CIP Uganda organized a workshop with the banana and potato sub-project partners and beneficiaries in order to impart skills and tools to identify, analyze, and devise strategies for mitigating gender-based constraints in value chain interventions.

The four-day gender training focused on sensitizing participants on the importance of gender responsive postharvest research as well as engendered business planning. During 2016, the team will continue to work on refining the gender analytical tools to enhance their usability by practitioners from the research and development sector.
Read the workshop report

Gender factors influencing technology adoption


Potato traders in Mbale, Uganda.

Most studies find that men are generally more likely to adopt new technologies compared to women (Ragasa, 2012). These differences may be the result of gender gaps in access to and control over inputs, such as land, credit, labor, and extension services. From December 2015 to January 2016, CIP researchers conducted focus group discussions and administered questionnaires to local technicians working in communities in Bolivia, Peru, and Ecuador in order to identify the factors affecting the dissemination and adoption of agricultural technologies by men and women. This research project, co-financed by the RTB Gender Integration Project and PIM Flagship 3 on Inclusive Value Chains and Efficient Trade, aims to produce recommendations for designing and implementing technology diffusion initiatives with a gender perspective in order to help development practitioners design and disseminate agricultural technologies that will be adopted by and benefit both men and women.

This research initiative builds upon work conducted in 2014 and 2015 by CIP in Latin America and Caribbean (LAC) region to develop recommendations to reinforce gender mainstreaming in agricultural technology innovation processes for food security. These recommendations will be used as capacity building material in LAC and other regions in the implementation projects with national partners.

For more detail see: Technology for men and women: Recommendations to reinforce gender mainstreaming in agricultural technology innovation processes for food security (English version and Spanish version)

RTB and PIM collaborate to make value chain work gender responsive

With the aim of making postharvest work more inclusive, effective and equitable, RTB teamed up with the CGIAR Research Program on Policies, Institutions and Markets (PIM) to support efforts to integrate gender into value chain approaches, tools and interventions.

This initiative builds upon knowledge sharing between CIP researchers in Africa and South America who had been integrating gender into the Participatory Market Chain Approach (PMCA) developed by CIP. The PMCA is an approach that helps to structure participatory processes that involve different market chain actors with an aim of stimulating joint innovations based on shared ideas and trust. It gained impetus when CIP and PIM co-funded a workshop in April 2014 in Entebbe, Uganda, where researchers from Bioversity, CIP, CIAT and IITA analyzed the potential for integrating gender into PMCA and 5Capitals, a methodology for assessing the impacts of value chain development on poverty that was developed by researchers at Bioversity, the World Agroforestry Center (ICRAF) and the Center for Tropical Agricultural Research and Higher Education (CATIE).

The workshop resulted in the development of guidelines for making RTB value chain interventions more gender responsive and a roadmap for strengthening gender in PMCA and 5Capitals. André Devaux, CIP’s Regional Leader for Latin America and the Caribbean, and Dietmar Stoian, Leader of Bioversity’s Commodity Systems and Genetic Resources Program, subsequently joined colleagues from ICRAF and CIAT in  developing a proposal for a two-year initiative for enhancing value chain tools and improving smallholder participation with a gender lens. PIM approved funding for the project in September, and Bioversity, CIAT, CIP and ICRAF began collaborating on it in early 2015 taking advantage of the gender responsive tools developed in East Africa and promoting the links between East Africa and Latin America.

“For me, one of the important things about the workshop was that it facilitated the link between RTB and PIM,” said Devaux. He added that it also resulted in the development of guidelines for mainstreaming gender in RTB value chains and a prototype trainer guide for mainstreaming gender into PMCA, which will be validated under the PIM-funded project.

Devaux admitted that when he and his colleagues developed the PMCA in South America in the early 2000s, they didn’t pay specific attention to gender aspects. “It was gender neutral. I think we missed some opportunities in some value chain interventions where women were playing key roles, such as with the traditional processed potato product ‘tunta,’ which is very common in Peru’s southern highlands and in Bolivia,” he said.


Female taro root producer linked to the Jorge Salazar Cooperative, Nicaragua

Efforts to integrate gender into PMCA began in East Africa in 2012, when CIP’s Margaret McEwan and Sarah Mayanja developed and adapted gender responsive tools for the approach with help from Jacqueline Terrillon, a consultant with the professional network AgriProFocus. Mayanja helped partners apply those tools in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda in 2013, as part of her PMCA work under the ASARECA funded OFSP-AIS project.

“We realized that male and female value chain actors have different needs, interests and challenges. And when it came to strategies to overcome those challenges, men and women often had different views of how to go about it,” Mayanja said. “Previously, we’d used a one-size-fits-all approach, but the gender responsive tools helped us use a differentiated strategy. For example, for improving access to credit for value chain investments, the partners helped men access loans from banks, while women were linked to a microfinance provider that developed a table loan, which better suited their needs.”

Like PMCA, the 5Capitals approach was developed with little consideration of gender. Dietmar Stoian, who developed 5Capitals with Jason Donovan of ICRAF, said that their initial emphasis was on asset building at both household and smallholder enterprise levels. While some gender aspects were covered in the original version, it is now through the gender-responsive version (5Capitals-G) that gender-differentiated ways of dividing labor, generating income, and making decisions in smallholder households and enterprises will be thoroughly addressed and gender-responsive strategies for value chain development facilitated. He explained that 5Capitals is complementary to PMCA, since it is primarily used for monitoring and assessing the impact of value chain interventions and, based on this, to adjust them to increase smallholders’ capacity to benefit from them.


Ingrid Herrera, Jason Donovans data collection assistant, carrying out an assessment of interventions to support smallholder engagement in certified coffee markets in Nicaragua

Stoian explained that the project will facilitate the development of gender-responsive versions of PMCA, 5Capitals and the Link methodology – a value chain tool developed by CIAT. Those tools will then be shared with other research centers and development partners from public and private sectors and civil society to be tested in different countries around the globe. In Africa and Latin America, piloting the three tools will take place through multisector Communities of Practice to be created around PIM Value Chain Hubs.

“This is the way we envision our development-oriented research to work, with centers closely collaborating within and across Research Programs, and involving development partners from multiple sectors,” Stoian said.