Gender mainstreaming in local potato seed system in Georgia
This report presents the study findings associated with the project “Enhancing Rural Livelihoods in Georgia:
Introducing Integrated Seed Health Approaches to Local Potato Seed Systems” in Georgia. It also incorporates
information from the results of gender training conducted within the framework of the USAID Potato Program
in Georgia. The study had three major aims: 1) to understand the gender-related opportunities and constraints
impacting the participation of men and women in potato seed systems in Georgia; 2) to test the multistakeholder framework for intervening in root, tuber, and banana (RTB) seed systems as a means to understand
the systems themselves and the possibilities of improving gender-related interventions in the potato seed
system; and 3) to develop farmers’ leadership skills to facilitate women’s active involvement in project activities.
Results of the project assessment identified certain constraints on gender mainstreaming in the potato seed
system: a low level of female participation in decision-making processes, women’s limited access to finances
that would enable their greater involvement in larger scale potato farming, and a low awareness of potato seed
systems and of possible female involvement in associated activities. Significantly, the perception of gender roles
and stereotypes differs from region to region in Georgia; this difference is quite pronounced in the target
municipalities of Kazbegi, Marneuli, and Akhalkalaki, with the last two having populations of ethnic minorities
(Azeri and Armenian, respectively). For example, in Marneuli, although women are actively involved in potato
production, they are not considered farmers but mainly as assistants to farmers, who are men. This type of
diversity (or lack thereof) results in a different understanding of gender mainstreaming in the potato seed
system as well.
Based on the training results obtained in three target regions—Akhalkalaki, Akhaltsikhe, and Marneuli—it is
evident that women are keen on learning new technologies and on acquiring updated agricultural information,
including on potato production. It is also clear that women spend as much time as men do on farming activities
such as potato production, particularly in weeding and harvesting. However, women are heavily burdened with
domestic work, and they are not major decision-makers with regard to potato variety selection, agricultural
investments, and product sales, nor with the inclusion of participants in any training provided. Involving women
in project activities will lead to greater efficiency in the potato production environment, as women’s increased
knowledge will certainly contribute to an improved production process, and their new ideas will help to improve
existing production systems, through which women could also gain confidence and power.
As a general recommendation, it is extremely important to develop equitable seed systems that take into
consideration, among other factors, social context and the cultural aspects of local communities. Thus,
understanding male and female farmers’ knowledge may promote the development of seed systems that are
sustainable and responsive to farmers’ needs and capacities.