Malawi’s Farm­ing Model Tack­ling Gen­der In­equal­ity

Why is it that in Malawi, the three im­proved va­ri­eties of pi­geon­pea, which were de­vel­oped with sup­posed mar­ket-de­sired traits, re­ceived zero lev­els of adop­tion? Whereas the lo­cal Nthawa­juni va­ri­ety spread through­out the coun­try, dom­i­nat­ing 80 PER­CENT OF T

Rural & Marketing - - CONTENT -

Per­plex­ing, isn’t it? Wouldn’t it make more sense that those va­ri­eties that were sup­pos­edly tai­lored to the mar­ket would be those adopted? In this ex­am­ple, this clearly wasn’t the case.

So, why didn’t this work?

In Malawi, pi­geon pea pro­duc­tion, har­vest, prepa­ra­tion and sale are all ac­tiv­i­ties which are im­por­tant to, and car­ried out by women. While th­ese va­ri­eties may have been se­lected with mar­ket-de­sired traits, breed­ers did not fully ap­pre­ci­ate the gen­dered pref­er­ences of their end-users, nor fully un­der­stand how they drive adop­tion and use.

To­day, a re­newed fo­cus on gen­der, fu­elled by donors, has in­creased the re­search com­mu­nity’s aware­ness and ap­pre­ci­a­tion of the di­ver­sity of end-users. Many plant and an­i­mal breed­ers have not just come to recog­nise the im­por­tance of end-users’ pref­er­ences but also the di­ver­sity of those pref­er­ences, which arise from their so­cio- eco­nomic and cul­tural con­texts.

Yet, de­spite this aware­ness, rarely are th­ese pref­er­ences cap­tured suf­fi­ciently to im­prove adop­tion. End-user pref­er­ences there­fore, are crit­i­cal to not only adop­tion and use but also en­sur­ing the suc­cess of gen­der-re­spon­sive breed­ing pro­grammes.

The coali­tion of the will­ing

This shared un­der­stand­ing of the im­por­tance of con­sid­er­ing end-user pref­er­ences was a ma­jor topic of dis­cus­sion at a Gen­der, Breed­ing and Ge­nomics work­shop led by the CGIAR Gen­der and Agri­cul­ture Re­search Net­work held in Nairobi last Oc­to­ber. While there has been a long his­tory of sci­en­tists re­al­is­ing the im­por­tance of en­duser pref­er­ences; for the CGIAR, this pre­sented an op­por­tu­nity to re­visit its ap­proaches and fa­cil­i­tate a di­a­logue between mo­ti­vated sci­en­tists.

It was in­vig­o­rat­ing to see that sci­en­tists from dif­fer­ent dis­ci­plines, from the nat­u­ral to so­cial sciences, clearly recog­nised the need for, and value of in­ter­dis­ci­pli­nary work, teams, and the vi­tal role of so­cial sci­ence in scal­ing up the im­pact of breed­ing pro­grammes.

How­ever, as is most of­ten the case in in­ter­dis­ci­pli­nary work, it

Hand­some Chipeta, ICRISAT Tech­ni­cian, de­scribes the ben­e­fits of ICEAP-000557, the first medium-du­ra­tion pi­geon­pea va­ri­ety in Malawi. Photo Credit, Swathi Srid­ha­ran (ICRISAT)

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