Testing and refining the FAO ‘Gender and Rural Advisory Services Assessment Tool’

Rural Advisory Services (RAS) can help women and men farmers to increase their yields, connect with markets, and take advantage of agripreneurship opportunities. Yet, globally, women have less access to RAS than men, and the information, technologies and services provided tend to be less relevant to the needs of female farmers.

CRISP recently conducted a case study to validate, implement and improve the FAO ‘Gender and Rural Advisory Services Assessment Tool’. The tool provides a means for systematic, holistic program assessment, and the results of the assessments will be used in the development of capacity development and policy support materials to facilitate the uptake of gender-sensitive good practices in rural advisory services programs.

Scoping study on mainstreaming gender and social inclusion in wheat research in Indo-Gangetic Plains for CIMMYT (International Centre for Wheat and Maize)

CRISP in partnership with the Glasgow Caledonian University recently completed a scoping study for WHEAT‐CRP on "Integration of Gender and Social Equity in R4Don Wheat-Based Systems in South Asia" for CIMMYT (International Centre for Wheat and Maize). The key research questions explored by the scoping study were as follows.

How are gender and social equity issues around agricultural research are currently being addressed in South Asia?

How can gender and social equity issues be tackled in future wheat research in South Asia?

This study involved a background study on experiences to date on gender and social equity, analysis of national policies on gender and social equity, country level stakeholder analysis and social actor analysis around specific cases.

An assessment of Extension/ Advisory Methods to Reach Rural Women in India and Bangladesh

This study undertaken in collaboration with the Glasgow Caledonian University was commissioned by the MEAS (Modernizing Extension and Advisory Services) Programme. This study was based on a meta-comparison of existing extension engagement methods and its evidence of impact on women.

Five case studies were conducted in India to provide evidence of some of the extension approaches identified, specifically to determine what is working, why, and what the limitations are to scaling up. The case studies focused on use of ICTs, social mobilization, use of para-extension workers, and group approaches. What is working for rural women are approaches that consider demand driven bottom-up planning, wider linkages and support structures, long-term commitments for capacity development, trust, recognizing women’s roles, and providing  women with ownership and responsibilities. Despite these successes, there is evidence that suggests there remains a need for ensuring that utilized approaches have an understanding of the local context/environment, and are not target-based, but based on needs and are supply-driven. This is the only way to ensure that women are not seen as just recipients or beneficiaries of programs but rather as an integral part of a process of change and reform.

This study undertaken in collaboration with the Glasgow Caledonian University was commissioned by the MEAS (Modernizing Extension and Advisory Services) Programme. This study was based on a meta-comparison of existing extension engagement methods and its evidence of impact on women.

Five case studies were conducted in India to provide evidence of some of the extension approaches identified, specifically to determine what is working, why, and what the limitations are to scaling up. The case studies focused on use of ICTs, social mobilization, use of para-extension workers, and group approaches. What is working for rural women are approaches that consider demand driven bottom-up planning, wider linkages and support structures, long-term commitments for capacity development, trust, recognizing women’s roles, and providing  women with ownership and responsibilities. Despite these successes, there is evidence that suggests there remains a need for ensuring that utilized approaches have an understanding of the local context/environment, and are not target-based, but based on needs and are supply-driven. This is the only way to ensure that women are not seen as just recipients or beneficiaries of programs but rather as an integral part of a process of change and reform.

In Bangladesh case studies were conducted on five approaches to reaching rural women. These are: creating a social infrastructure (e.g., union federations), value chain development, SHGs (e.g., for thrift and credit), ICTs, and women extension workers. The creation of strong social organizations is central to reaching rural women, e.g., through the formation of union federations and using groups approaches like FFS for training and building entrepreneurial skills. This approach seems to have a degree of flexibility and is participatory. There is also evidence to suggest that ICTs have the potential to reach rural women. The case studies highlight that reaching rural women effectively requires long-term presence, commitment in terms of human and financial resources, and the engagement of a number of stakeholders. The case studies also show that much of the initiatives being implemented via these approaches heavily depend on the resources and ability of women farmers to adapt.

Reaching Rural Women

This research was undertaken for the Sustainable Resilient Farming Systems Intensification (SRFSI) project.  

The diagnosis of the agricultural innovation systems (AIS) in the 8 pilot districts revealed the presence of a wide range of actors who can potentially support outscaling (horizontal spread of new knowledge being applied) and upscaling (institutional and policy changes that create a favourable environment for rapid uptake of new knowledge) of SRFSI. The success of SRFSI in promoting application of new knowledge around Conservation Agriculture (CA) and Sustainable Intensification (SI) depends crucially in developing partnerships and bringing about synergy among the activities of these different agencies. SRFSI interventions should build on some of the interesting initiatives around CA and SI promoted by various programmes or agencies. Promoting CA and SI involves calibration of several technical options appropriate to the different situations (soil water conditions, size of farms, types of crops grown etc, etc). Lack of well articulated policy on promotion of conservation agriculture and sustainable intensification is currently constraining wider update of these technologies.

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