This paper follows from the recognition that meeting food needs requires that women's roles in production and food systems are taken into account. International agricultural research centres have paid little attention to the demands of domestic post-harvest technologies, being given a low priority in the determination of research agenda. Gender-specific varietal preferences for seed or stock selection have also been ignored. In addition to methodological weaknesses built into current research programming, insufficient attention has been paid to the institutional barriers which inhibit the exchange of experience and information between women and agricultural researchers and extension agents. The paper begins by suggesting why gender matters. The second section discusses seed technology and gender issues. The third section raises questions of methodology (discussing socio-economic research, farming systems research and policy research). [This section may be of particular interest to PRA collection users]. Further sections discuss research-extension linkages, and the measurement of inputs. The final three sections are case studies of the impact of technical change in agriculture on women in Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean, and Sub-Saharan Africa.
This concerns the problems of wealth ranking, a method used mainly to describe the relative wealth of people in one discrete area, comparing like with like, and its application to more than one community. A problem arises when there is a need to stratify a number of communities which may, as a whole, vary in terms of their wealth. Different types of community, in terms of wealth, may well fall within the boundary of a single project area, thus it is important to deal with such issues. Attached to the letter are three descriptions of adaptations made to the standard wealth ranking technique. Generally in all three cases, wealth ranking was based on predefined criteria, except in the third, where criteria were developed after the initial comparative ranking was undertaken.
This paper discusses the importance of indigenous irrigation systems that have operated sustainably on indigenous technical knowledge that has ensured their longevity. Modern techniques have often ignored the importance of this knowledge and the role of such knowledge needs to be enhanced in the future.
Participatory impact monitoring of a soil and water conservation programme by farmers, extension volunteers and AKRSP
The Aga Khan Rural Support Programme supports soil and water conservation work on private land, a priority identified by villagers, as part of a watershed management project. Villagers suggested that monitoring should look at: erosion controlled; land reclaimed; moisture retention in soil (as inferred from crop growth); and productivity and income generation. The article goes through the process of participatory impact monitoring, illustrated by real results. The benefits of such monitoring are listed, most of them related to increased farmer understanding of processes and control over further experimentation.
The video documents a three-day PRA exercise which was carried out by Activists for Social Allternatives (ASA) with village women in Tamil Nadu, India. The PRA focused specifically on issues relating to women, and also acted as a training exercise for NGO representatives. The exercise began with a discussion of the participant's expectations of the workshop (02). They then divided into four groups to do family profiles, village mapping, village modelling and time-lines, each with a focus on women (03). In the family profiles the status of different generations of women in individual families were investigated. It was found that accross all castes and generations women lacked education and were excluded from decision-making and participation in common issues (05). Maps and models were made of the village and details about the marital, health and family status of women were then added before being transferred onto charts (06). The time-line showed the main events which had occurred in the village during the last 30 years, with a particular focus on the status of women (09). The day ended with group presentation and evaluation of the day's activities (10). On the second day the groups did wealth ranking (12), seasonality diagrams (14), and livelihoods (15). During the final day the women produced venn (or chapati) diagrams and a linkage chart (17). In their discussions the different groups identified similar problems, solutions and opportunities. The women realised their problems were not unique and recognised the importance of solidarity and working together (18).
This film demonstrates a participatory approach to crop research which has been developed by the International Crop Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) in India. It aims to bring researchers closer to farmers through on-farm evaluation of pest-resistant varieties. The approach was developed to overcome the limitations of the transfer of technology approach, which is often innappropriate to the complex, risk-prone agriculture of the semi-arid tropics (07). It recognises that farmers and scientists perform complementary activities, and advocates a decentralised and participatory approach in which scientists perform a facilitating and support role (08). The research was carried out in collaboration with women farmers, who play an important role in maintaining biological diversity. First, the pest problem was diagnosed and the different varieties grown by farmers were analysed (09). In the second stage the characteristics of the farmer's varieties were matched with those of the scientist's pre-release lines. On-farm trials were then conducted in different villages (11). After harvesting the farmers carried out their own evaluation of the genetic material (14). The different varieties were ranked to elicit the farmer's preferences, according to their own criteria (16). The scientists learned that a mosaic of varieties better suit the diverse situations faced by farmers in these complex dryland environments than the uniform introduction of a standard seed (23).
Activists for Social Alternatives (ASA) is an NGO working in the rural areas of Tamil Nadu in south India (01). This video records a four-day PRA run by ASA which focused on the watershed in two villages, and also acted as a training workshop for NGO activists (03). During the first day of the workshop time lines and maps were drawn to illustrate the social composition and health aspects of the village (05). The findings of each group were presented to the other villagers at the end of the day so the accuracy of the information could be cross-checked (09). The second day focused on seasonal calendars (11), matrix ranking (15), wealth ranking (16), venn (or chapati) diagrams (18) and trend analysis (19). On the third day the physical features of the village were investigated through transects and models of the watershed (20). A land use capability map was then prepared which proposed land use options and land and water management practices (21). The last day focused on identifying problems and solutions. Steep slopes, lack of rainwater percolation, landslides and soil erosion emerged as some of the problems. Solutions included tree planting and water and soil conservation (22). A budget was then worked out with local, government and donor agency contributions. The exercise generated information and ideas with the villagers as resource persons, and demonstrated their capacity to plan and budget for themselves (23).
Based on training excercises carried out in four different countries and brought together in Thailand, at Khon Kaen, the aim was to discover if there were common patterns in wood use throughout the region, and to examine implications for sustainability and policy. While the focus is singly on the "problem" of wood use for energy, generalisations are made across country, and the methods used are entirely within the arena of RRA (predominantly informal interviewing), this is a comprehensive study of the energy situation in these countries. For each country, a brief background is given to the area and to previous studies and commercial implications of energy use are examined including supply, transportation and processing. The emphasis is on the movement of wood, particularly rural - urban flows, in both wood and charcoal forms. There is little emphasis on methods used.
The DVD documents a PRA exercise which was carried out in a village in Karnataka in south India, facilitated by the NGO group MYRADA. The PRA started the process of developing an integrated plan for the watershed with the village community. The film focuses on the sequence and methods used during the PRA. The first activity was an ice-breaker and equaliser, where the outside participants attempted to perform routine village tasks (02). Next, seasonality diagramming provided information on rainfall, employment patterns for men and women, and patterns of income and expenditure (04). Watershed resource mapping and modelling (06) and transects then gave more detailed information about the watershed (07). At an evening group meeting the information which had been gathered was presented and discussed, with a focus on the major issues and how they were to be dealt with. The villagers decided that it was important to reforest the upper catchment to minimise erosion (12). A matrix ranking of local trees was then carried out to determine the use and importance of different species to the villagers (13). This provided the basis for deciding the mix of species for the reforestation plan. Time lines and venn (or 'chapati') diagrams of village institutions depicted the social environment of the village (16). Wealth ranking information was added to a social map (17). The PRA concluded with an evening social event for all the participants (20).
This DVD shows a PRA field training carried out in two remote rural villages in Sri Lanka. It challenges development workers to change their habits and attitudes and to develop new capabilities in a partnership approach. PRA is described as "an approach and a set of methods and techniques for learning about rural life and conditions from, with and by the rural people" (01). The main economic activities of the villagers are agriculture and animal husbandry (03). The villagers taught the trainees how to plough and transplant paddy - in the process the trainees realised how little they knew and how much the villagers knew (04). A number of PRA methods were learned, including time trends (05); village mapping (06); social mapping (07) and transects (08); diagrams of changing land use patterns (13); seasonal calendars (14); medicinal herb sorting and identification of common diseases for which they are used as remedies (17); matrix ranking (18) and wealth ranking (19). The wealth ranking led on to a semi-structured interview with one of the poorest village women (20). The training concluded with a reflection on the exercise with the villagers (22). The villagers as well as the trainees had benefited from the experience. Finally, village volunteers went to Colombo to present their work to a one-day seminar for government and NGO officers (23).
This film records a week-end PRA training workshop run in the village of Kabripathar in Gujerat. It was hosted by the Aga Khan Rural Support Programme (AKRSP) as part of a series of international training workshops. The main economic activities in the village are agriculture and migrant labour, and the villagers are mostly poor and illiterate. The surrounding area has been deforested as a result of intensive cutting for industry and other population pressures (00). A reforestation programme was implemented by the state government but, because the villagers were not consulted, and anyway had different priorities, the scheme was unsuccessful (01). The PRA began with mapping and modelling to provide information about the village and its environment which would form the basis for other exercises (03). During a transect walk the trainees learned about the physical features and natural resources and how these are used by the villagers (04). A special feature of the AKRSP approach is the use of extension volunteers and master extension volunteers. These are local experts chosen by the village organisation for their ability to communicate and specialist skills, such as a knowledge of forestry (04). With their help AKRSP is able to work more effectively over a wider area. A village census was conducted with the women to give a social snapshot of the village (07). A rootstock assessment was carried out to count and record the number of trees according to species, and the results mapped out (09). The extension volunteers facilitated a dialogue to enable the villagers to assess needs, identify problems and set priorities (10) AKRSP was then able to extend financial, technical and managerial support (12). A planning stage was added to the PRA to assess the financial aspects and impact of the project (13). On the second day the results of the tree ranking were presented and a wealth ranking was carried out (14). The PRA training concluded with a seasonality analysis of household livelihoods and illness (14).
A multi-disciplinery team researching the food system linkages of sweet potatoes carried out four week-long rapid rural appraisals (RRAs) in the uplands of northern Philippines. The aim was to involve farmers in identifying needs and opportunities for research and development. It was found that sweet potato is grown mainly for subsistence and/or as feed for swine, and that all the work except for the fencing of plots is carried out by women. Sweet potato is an important substitute for rice, especially in times of food shortage. The information was then verified in a dialogue forum involving equal numbers of men and women farmers, extensionists, researchers and policymakers. During the dialogue forum all those involved identified the most suitable areas for sweet potato research, which were then ranked according to various criteria to establish priorities.