Gendered constraints for adopting climate-smart agriculture amongst smallholder Ethiopian women farmers

Meseret Tsige, Gry Synnevåg, Jens B. Aune
2020 Scientific African  
Although Climate-smart agriculture (CSA) can offer economic and food security opportunities for women farmers, success in the uptake of these technologies is contested by gendered constraints. Previous studies that use the household head as a unit of analysis to explain adoption patterns do not adequately demonstrate the extent to which women smallholders are restricted by gendered constraints. This study uses 344 women and men survey respondents involved in conservation agriculture (CA) and
more » ... ll-scale irrigation schemes (SSIS) as data sources for examining the effect of gendered constraints for adopting climate-smart agriculture amongst women in three areas in Ethiopia. Qualitative and quantitative data collections were applied using survey, in-depth interviews and focus group discussions. Quantitative data were analyzed using descriptive statistics, Pearson's chi-square test and binary logistic regression using statistical software for the social sciences (SPSS) version 24. Thematic and narrative analysis methods were used to analyze qualitative data. The findings show that women smallholders uptake is affected by limited access to credit, extension, restricted membership in cooperatives and water user associations, lack of access or user rights to land, skill training, information, and restricted mobility. Agricultural development interventions should be implemented by accepting and considering individual farmer's entitlement to development. Expanding off-farm diversification and rural employment opportunities through changing the land tenure system, which is currently state-owned, are essential to enhance women smallholders' access to land and other agricultural inputs. article under the CC BY-NC-ND license. ( ) M. Tsige, G. Synnevåg and J.B. Aune / Scientific African 7 (2020) e00250 agriculture (CA) and small-scale irrigation schemes (SSIS) are two different forms of CSA 1 practices [41] used as contextual cases in this study. The fundamental principles of CA include minimum disturbance of the soil or zero tillage (ZT) 2 , maintenance of soil cover with crop residues (mulching), and crop diversification using crop rotation or intercropping between cereals and legumes [22 , 26 , 61] . These CA principles are expected to address food insecurity through building soil quality and making agriculture less vulnerable to climate-change-induced challenges [35] . However, the uptake of CA depends largely on farmers' access to inputs, credit, machinery, and information [28 , 65] . SSIS is another approach to increase production and income which contribute to sustainable livelihoods in sub-Saharan Africa [12 , 30] . However, the success of SSIS is dependent on adequate agricultural inputs and policy support. Inadequate financial resources, lack of knowledge, and lack of operational policy support are reported as factors constraining the success of CSA technologies in eastern Africa [23 , 67] . In spite of the fact that the use of agricultural technologies has the potential to improve rural people's income, food security and livelihoods [8 , 15 , 43] , not everyone has the capability to properly adopt CSA technologies for improved food security and income [11] . In particular, women smallholders in Ethiopia are affected by many contextual gendered constraints that are slowing down their adaptive capacity to agricultural technologies [5 , 16] . It is also likely that agricultural interventions produce gender-differentiated impacts, owing to unequal use rights to production inputs [40] . Seebens and Sauer [54] , indicate that if women and men were to possess equitable control over production inputs in rural Ethiopian households, production would increase significantly. Although legal laws allow use rights to agricultural land for smallholder women, customary laws accept men as the primary "owners", and land inheritance is guided by patriarchal principles in most parts of Ethiopia. Fafchamps and Quisumbing [21] , identify intra-household inequality in accessing or using agricultural land in Ethiopia. Furthermore, male household heads normally own livestock in rural Ethiopian households [20] , and this adversely affects women's decision-making ability on how to use oxen for irrigated agriculture. Inequality between men and women's access to credit, water, fertilizer, and market linkages have also been identified in other parts of sub-Saharan Africa [45] . CA is assumed to be a labor-saving approach [28] . This aspect of CA can appear attractive to Ethiopian women smallholders, as they are responsible for multiple productive, reproductive and community roles. However, success in saving labor depends on how inputs are used -for example, savings are less likely to occur if farmers do not use adequate herbicides and do manual weeding [65] . Weed infestation in CA tends to increase as a result of lack of herbicide use, and women are responsible for weeding [4 , 59] . Preparing a flat weed-free seedbed for sowing is a common practice in Ethiopia. The Maresha (a scratch plow) is pulled by a pair of oxen to plow agricultural land [60] . Farmers who have no oxen need to pay up to 50 % of their harvest to get their land plowed [7] . Women are culturally prohibited from plowing [39] and their control over cattle is restricted [20] ; hence, women smallholders and those who do not own oxen could be the primary beneficiaries of ZT. However, the need for other costly inputs such as herbicides, pesticides, and fertilizers is challenging for women. The lack of crop residues for mulching is also a major constraint affecting the adoption of CA by African smallholders [28] . Furthermore, the use of crop residue for mulching reduces the availability of residues as a fire source. As a result, mulching can increase the labor burden on women as they are often responsible for collecting firewood in smallholder households [11] . Gendered institutional, information and knowledge-related constraints also contribute to women's limited uptake of agricultural technologies. CA management and the operation of irrigation equipment require adequate knowledge and skills training. However, women smallholders in Ethiopia have little access to extension and training as a result of gendered institutional biases [5 , 16 , 63 , 64] . Agricultural extension services are provided primarily to men [14] , and female-headed households receive less extension advice than male-headed households [48] . Besides, even for men, the extension service does not pay attention to farmers' needs and technology preferences [16] . The fact that most extension agents are men is also likely to affect women's access to extension services [14] , as married women in some cultures are prevented from communicating with men without the presence of their husbands. A review of studies by Quisumbing and Pandolfelli [47] indicate that gender norms prohibit women's membership in Water User Associations (WUAs) 3 . Abebaw and Haile [1] , highlight that most members of cooperatives in Ethiopia are male household heads. Women's access to rural institutional services was found to be restricted in four regions of Ethiopia, in the form of a bias against women's access to fertilizers and improved seeds from institutions [48] . Rural financial institutions do not recognize women as active economic agents and credit is often provided only to male household heads [25] . Aregu et al. [5] , found that limited access to credit is one of the gendered constraints that limit agricultural technology adoption in Ethiopia. The lack of knowledge and inadequate information on agricultural technologies is a general constraint to technology adoption in Ethiopia [19] . Aregu et al. [5] , indicate that cultural factors, and the restricted knowledge that women farmers possess about technologies are gendered constraints that limit agricultural technology uptake in Ethiopia. In particular, CA demands complex management skills [65] , and depends on farmers' knowledge regarding the selection and proper use of herbicides and pesticides. Information about improved seeds requires membership in farmers' cooperatives [59] . However, women often lack connections outside their village and are seldom accepted as members of cooperatives. This restriction, in turn, affects women's ability to adopt CA and access improved seeds for SSIS.
doi:10.1016/j.sciaf.2019.e00250 fatcat:xw4vlyclvjh7tawomnmdmzdxyi