Gender Dynamics affect Uptake of Agricultural Technologies – Mak SECA Study

A study conducted by Makerere University researchers in Iganga and Bugiri districts indicates that disparities still exist regarding access and sustained use of improved crop varieties among women and men. The men still dominate decision making power which negatively impacts on the sustained use and uptake of improved crop varieties in the two districts. Gender transformative approaches that consider the interest and needs of both men and women, are deemed fit for the design and implementation of interventions and ensure voices and aspirations of men and women are considered.

Between 2020–2022, researchers from Makerere University Department of Extension and Innovation Studies with support from Carnegie Corporation of New York under the Auspices of the Directorate of Graduate Research and Training programme of Supporting Early Career Academics through Post-Doctoral training at Makerere University (SECA) undertook a study titled, “Intra-household Gender Dynamics in Uptake of Agricultural Technologies for Sustained livelihoods in Uganda.”

Dr. Losira Nasirumbi presenting the study findings at Nakigo Subcounty

The study was conducted in Nakigo and Nambaale sub-counties in Iganga and Buwunga and Nabukalu sub counties in Bugiri districts. The study areas were selected because of the intensity of interventions by government and non-state agencies in the area aimed at enhancing resilience of the farming systems and increasing agricultural productivity.

The   study, aimed to unravel the power dynamics at the household level that influence sustained use of new crop varieties for equitable and sustainable likelihoods in Uganda. The research therefore adopted a gender approach in examining decision making patterns, power relations and negotiation processes at household level and how these influence access to control over new technologies and ultimately sustained use. This was disclosed during the research dissemination workshops conducted on 6th and 7th October 2022 in the study areas that brought together district administrative and technical officers including, production, extension and agricultural officers, district chairpersons, senior production secretaries, farmers and farmer groups, civil society organisations and community-based organisations.

Dr Florence Kyazze speaking to farmers at Buwunga Subcounty

According to the Principal Investigator, Dr. Losira Nasirumbi Sanya, progress towards attaining food security remains a challenge partly due to low use of science and technological innovations developed over time. While sharing the study findings for validation, Dr. Losira explained that the overall objective of the research was to contribute towards promoting sustainable use of new agricultural technologies and innovations through better understanding of the gendered dynamics that enhance access and sustained use as a pathway to transformation of production systems and increasing productivity.

“The specific objectives were to describe the dissemination and use of agricultural technologies in selected districts of Eastern agro-ecological zone of Uganda; analyse the intra-household gender roles and relations in regard to technology access and sustained use within the institution of the household, and quantify the distribution of the decision-making power within dual adult households and how this influences technology uptake and empowerment among women,” she said.

Dr. Losira with a couple during the scoring game

She said data was collected from men and women using survey questionnaires, focus group discussions and in-depth farmer interviews. The findings indicated that farmers were involved in growing at least eight crops, two of the crops purposely for food security, one for cash and the rest for both food and cash. The crops include maize, cassava, beans, sweetpotatoes, ground nuts, rice, soybeans, coffee and bananas among others.

The study revealed that in the past five years, men had more access to training on farming and improved seeds from government related experts and NGOs. The study also revealed that though women went to cluster project [ACDP] and accessed improved seed, only a few continued to use such varieties due to several factors.

Dr Florence Kyazze (Mentor) and Dr. Losira Nasirumbi (PI) meeting farmers at Nakigo Subcounty

The study also established that households had joint and individual plots for women and men. Joint farms according to this research were preferred by men and women to promote harmony and reduce domestic violence, ease management, sharing resources and labour, timely planting and due to limited land.

Men, the study found, preferred their own plots to meet their diverse demands since some were polygamous, and wanted to fulfil family obligations. On the other hand, it was found that women preferred individual farms for financial independence, control over their income and the need to ensure food security.

When it came to access to farming resources such as land, fertilizers, herbicides and seeds, the study indicated that men had more access but women were mostly involved in providing farm labour for planting and weeding.

The representative of the Chairman LCV Iganga speaking

Findings on the intra-household decision making power indicated that 62% of women accorded themselves a high score of having more decision making power than what men scored them in relation to their input to decision dimensions related to asset ownership and use, productive decisions, use of labour (hired and family), marketing, financial time allocation and access to trainings, extension and group membership. However, 29% of the women gave themselves a lower score than their spouses scored them across the different decision dimensions. The study found perfect agreement in the scores assigned by men and women in only 9% of the households. “Decision making power is directly linked to one’s ability to make choice and action on that choice,” said the PI. “A mismatch between actual and perceived empowerment in decision making signals opportunities for creating awareness among farming communities if we are to achieve the intended goal of equitable access and outcomes.”

The study revealed that the disparities in decision making power affected the use of improved technologies and productivity.

District Agricultural Officer Iganga Bazalaki Sully making his remarks

“Women with high decision making power (empowered) were more likely able to sustain use of improved varieties than those with lower scores. Those with low decision making power were highly associated with low use of improved varieties. Those with the ability to make decisions and even when closer to extension services were able to grow more improved varieties though high decision making power was negatively associated with the number of improved varieties grown. This illuminates the fact that women’s empowerment in decision making has potential to contribute to closing the gender gap in sustained use thus the need to be more intentional about women’s participation, decision making and agency in development interventions if we are to achieve greater impact in sustained use of agricultural technologies towards better livelihoods,” Dr. Losira explained.

During the dissemination workshop, the District Agricultural Officer, Iganga, Mr. Bazalaki Sully Nantatya said, the research has been of great value and has unearthed the dynamics in the communities in regard to gender relations, decision making and uptake of technologies.

He reported that technology uptake in Iganga district has been good because of the capacity building initiative undertaken by a number of partners and projects both through government and non-state actors.

Researchers interacting with farmers during the meeting at Nambaale Subcounty

“This research has revealed that adoption of improved technologies has been embraced which has led to increased yields and farmers are very appreciative. Since the start of this research, we have observed that gender relations have improved among participating households when it comes to working in gardens and decision making and that now a wife and husband have come closer and jointly taking lead in implementing farming activities right from planting to marketing. This has been made possible by the approach adopted in this research of having both spouses involved in all activities. Farmers are also realising the use of improved technologies which they feel must be sustained. As a district, we are thinking of enhancing input delivery system to sustain the new interventions and all these have been revealed during the dissemination workshop which has pointed out where things are working out well and not,” he said

The Agricultural Officer, Nambaale Sub County, Gwahaba Richard said farmers easily take up new technologies especially to increase yields but hardly sustain their use.

“We need to wake up as extension officers and district partners and concentrate on gender issues so that men, women and children at the household level embrace these technologies and work together to sustain them,” he said.

Farmers from Buwunga subcounty and researchers take a group photo after the meeting

Representing the District Chairperson Iganga, the Vice Chairperson, Ali Mukacha appreciated Makerere University for choosing Iganga as a site for the research saying, the study was in line with the government strategy of modernising agriculture and improving farmers’ livelihoods from a peasantry to middle income earners by the year 2030.

He said Nambaale Sub County has been one of the model sub-counties in the district that has participated in many interventions. He pledged the district support towards any research program in the area.

Rebecca Naigaga, a farmer from Iganga districts appreciated the research.

I have learnt a lot that a husband and wife need to sit together during the planting season and agree on how to rent land, its size, what crops to plant. Then during harvest, we need to agree on what amount to sell and leave for food and what to sell for fees. The other, I have learnt is that, men have more access to land but as women we can also hire,” she noted.

Elias Mutyaba from Nambaale Agro business appreciated the study for changing his mindset and called upon farmers to adopt modern farming practices.

This time I have changed my attitude. I was so piteous of myself that I was unemployed but with this workshop, I have learnt that farming is also a business where I can earn money. I call upon my fellow farmers to embrace new varieties and use of fertilisers to improve the yields,” he said.

 



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