Initial research highlights: importance of gender in food security innovations
CIAT led a Rapid Rural Appraisal (RRA), an integrative approach to data collection, in Northern Uganda to guide further research in a bid to improve food security and climate change resilience of small holder farmers; part of a new IFAD funded project*.
An interdisciplinary team included CIAT, IITA, IFAD, Gulu University, and NARO members conducted the research in Adjumani, Gulu, Kitgum and Nwoya districts, to begin the process of building a representative picture characterising the physical and socio-economic dimensions shaping the local environment. As per RRA principles, the nature of the team bolstered differing conceptual perspectives, skill-sets and institutional inputs, resulting in broad-based knowledge outcomes. The essential background gained from the appraisal will enable contextualized thought to support subsequent project objectives.
Local agricultural conditions were assessed utilizing a combination of communication and learning tools, whilst facilitating local knowledge gathering on priorities and constraints faced by farmers. Key-informant interviews, participatory workshops, transect walks, resource mapping exercises, village and farm visits, as well as gender-disaggregated methods proved effective in gaining a comprehensive insight.
Households surveyed averaged ten people each, of which seventy percent were male headed, twenty-five percent female headed and five percent child headed. Across these households in the four districts, it was found that agricultural labour is largely supplied by the family members, yet farmers felt that this was not adequate for purpose with regards to the amount of labour required. Gender-disaggregated data revealed further details, showing that the labour itself, regarding both crops and livestock, was pre-determined by gender. ‘Male crops’ and ‘female crops’ were a generic concept amongst the farming communities with men cultivating rice, cassava and maize, primarily grown to sell, whilst women tended to be responsible for vegetables - crops for home-consumption. Similarly the rearing of livestock had clear gender associations and divisions; in all districts at least 60% of livestock was associated with men only and in one of the districts it was over 85%; generally chickens and ducks were looked after by women where as cattle, goats, fish and bees were reared by men. Commercial value of livestock, particularly for cattle, and related marketing duties were stated as a reason for male responsibility by some farmers, concurring with the cash based gender divisions seen in cropping.
Crop association by gender; blue papers indicated men and pink papers indicated women
Land management practices in the study districts were also explored with reference to Climate Smart Agriculture (CSA). It materialized that the most common ways to prepare fields was through a non-CSA-compliant practice, slash and burn, however the CSA practice of intercropping was commonly used for land management; often intercropping cassava with groundnut, maize or foxtail millet. Socio-economic determinants were found to influence land-use practices, with for example population increase resulting in the decline of fallowing, where as the longer term limited use of inorganic and organic fertilizer was attributed to financial cost and a perception that the soil is fertile. Constraints to agricultural productivity in the district prompted numerous ideas including the need to improve seed quality and accessibility; soil and water conservation; crop, land and soil management; road networks; provision of climate information; grain storage; market development and promoting value addition of produce.
Detailed analysis of the RRA data will now support project objectives of conducting an informed, locally specific, assessment of the current use of agricultural practices in the area that satisfy CSA criteria of sustainably increasing productivity, resilience to climate change and reduction of green house gas emissions. Subsequent objectives include clarification of on-the-ground potential impacts of these CSA practices, considering scientific data on land health and suitability, and assessment of any associated trade-offs.
Knowledge acquired will guide selection of locally appropriate CSA practices for implementation at the local level followed by further appraisal supported by local perceptions on benefits and barriers to adoption, with full consideration given to variations between socially differentiated groups. Integrated data from the participatory research, intra-household gender surveys and biophysical baseline assessments aims to ultimately produce a model set of locally appropriate approaches to CSA to out-scale in East Africa, via work with development institutions such as ‘CSA; Agricultural Research For Development’ (CSA AR4D) and through strategic policy partnerships.Detailed analysis of the RRA data will now support project objectives of conducting an informed, locally specific, assessment of the current use of agricultural practices in the area that satisfy CSA criteria of sustainably increasing productivity, resilience to climate change and reduction of green house gas emissions. Subsequent objectives include clarification of on-the-ground potential impacts of these CSA practices, considering scientific data on land health and suitability, and assessment of any associated trade-offs.
*Project title, “Increasing food security and farming system resilience in East Africa through wide-scale adoption of climate-smart agricultural practices” led by CIAT (Soil Research Area and Decision and Policy Analysis (DAPA)) in collaboration with IITA, ICRAF as well as local and national NGOs and institutions.