Product profiling and gender in cassava breeding: An integrated approach

This webinar will examine the integrated approach taken by the Next Generation Cassava Breeding (NEXTGEN Cassava) project to conduct cassava trait preference and gender profiling in Nigeria. The session will include presentations from two gender experts involved in the project followed by a moderated Q&A with the audience.

Wed, July 26, 2017

Background

The NEXTGEN Cassava project aims to increase the rate of genetic improvement in cassava breeding to reach the full potential of cassava within the livelihoods of African farmers and processors.

In Nigeria, most cassava products like gari are produced by small scale farmers and processors, particularly women. When comparing the preferred cassava traits of men and women, very few of these traits contradict but rather supplement each other and the detail of description portrays the tasks of men and women. Also food quality traits that have often been ascribed to be more important to women are equally found important by men*, contradicting some gender stereotypes around cassava being a “women’s crop”.

Traits are often described in a very general way, such as “good to make gari” because they are very difficult to put into words. Furthermore disaggregating data by sex is unsatisfactory from a gender responsive point of view. Gender is shaped by and part of other social identities that people are part of, hence the necessity to look at cross sections. Different groups of women and men will have different opportunities within the cassava production and processing (food) chain and operate in different contexts using different labor sources and tools. Breeding for improved varieties is an investment in the future and should be informed about these different modes (from manual to mechanized). As we aim for gender responsive breeding, the modes of vulnerable groups deserve specific attention.

In this light, the project works with 40 farmer-processors in Southwest and – Southeast Nigeria who each manage a researcher-designed cassava trial in their own field. The trials contain some of the most popular varieties grown by smallholder farmers in Nigeria as well as improved varieties. Participants will cultivate, process and evaluate the varieties.

How the trial is managed and in whose field the trial ends up provides important information on social class, gender and household decision making. Project researchers evaluate the trials with the farmer-processors as the crop grows and combine this with social science tools to inquire into the positionality of participants, their aspirations and possibilities. This facilitates a more accurate qualitative research approach which allows participants to correct, adjust and refine their opinions on these issues. This will then inform the development of a focused more quantitative structured questionnaire to target a larger number of people in the community.

After the final evaluation of the processing into food products together with the participants we will have accessed trait and variety preferences more tacitly. Together with physio- chemical and food science analysis this can further define important measureable traits to inform cassava breeders.

Outcomes of this research will inform the design of gender responsive and inclusive breeding programs by:

  • Enabling breeders to generate varieties that can fulfill the needs of different modes of cassava production and processing,
  • Informing mechanisms towards gender equitable and inclusive extension and seed systems
  • Determining entry points for initiatives to stimulate further development of sustainable agribusinesses.

 

*Olaosebikan O, Haleegoah J, Oladejo, E, Madu T, Bello A, Parkes E, Egesi C, Teeken B, Kulakow P, Kirscht H  and Tufan H. Cassava trait preferences of men and women farmers in Southwest and Southeast Nigeria, what are the implications for trait prioritization within breeding? (Submitted)

Speakers

Béla Teeken

Postdoctoral Research Fellow, International Institute of Tropical Agriculture
Béla Teeken is a gender postdoctoral research fellow at IITA working closely together with the cassava breeding unit. He is especially interested in how the biophysical environment, local institutions and culture shape and determine local agricultural innovations and practices and how such innovations and practices relate to those of formal scientific research. He worked shortly on grassroots innovations at the NGO ‘Sristi’ in India, before pursuing his PhD research at the Knowledge Technology and Innovation group of Wageningen University. He has an interdisciplinary background with an MSc thesis in rural development sociology and another in agronomy/plant physiology both with fieldwork in West-Africa. His PhD combined these disciplines and covered research on rice cultivation in West-Africa and particularly in the Togo Hills in Ghana and Togo.

Hale Ann Tufan

International Programs, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Cornell University, United States
Hale Ann Tufan is Principle Investigator of the GREAT project. A molecular biologist by training, has worked for the John Innes Centre, CIMMYT, and the University of East Anglia, School of International Development. She joined International Programs, Cornell University in 2012 to manage the NEXTGEN Cassava project, for which she developed the NEXTGEN Cassava “Gender-Responsive Cassava Breeding” initiative to capture needs, priorities and challenges women and men face in cassava production, to prioritize gendered traits in breeding program design and implementation. Her current research focus is linking qualitative cassava trait descriptors with breeding and food science variables on station.

Speakers

Béla Teeken

Postdoctoral Research Fellow, International Institute of Tropical Agriculture
Béla Teeken is a gender postdoctoral research fellow at IITA working closely together with the cassava breeding unit. He is especially interested in how the biophysical environment, local institutions and culture shape and determine local agricultural innovations and practices and how such innovations and practices relate to those of formal scientific research. He worked shortly on grassroots innovations at the NGO ‘Sristi’ in India, before pursuing his PhD research at the Knowledge Technology and Innovation group of Wageningen University. He has an interdisciplinary background with an MSc thesis in rural development sociology and another in agronomy/plant physiology both with fieldwork in West-Africa. His PhD combined these disciplines and covered research on rice cultivation in West-Africa and particularly in the Togo Hills in Ghana and Togo.

Hale Ann Tufan

International Programs, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Cornell University, United States
Hale Ann Tufan is Principle Investigator of the GREAT project. A molecular biologist by training, has worked for the John Innes Centre, CIMMYT, and the University of East Anglia, School of International Development. She joined International Programs, Cornell University in 2012 to manage the NEXTGEN Cassava project, for which she developed the NEXTGEN Cassava “Gender-Responsive Cassava Breeding” initiative to capture needs, priorities and challenges women and men face in cassava production, to prioritize gendered traits in breeding program design and implementation. Her current research focus is linking qualitative cassava trait descriptors with breeding and food science variables on station.