In many developing countries, traditional male-dominant practices affect female smallholder farmers’ ability to participate in most decision-making processes and to access the services needed for managing risks in agriculture.
Integrating Gender for Collective Agricultural Risk Management is an initiative developed to facilitate a gender analysis in the orange-fleshed sweet potato value chain. The process involves a series of training sessions on the relevant agronomic practices, nutrition and value addition, delivered by the Makerere University in collaboration with the National Crops Resources Research Institute (NaCRRI). Trainings are offered to community-based trainers, and farmers are paired with these trainers for a holistic step-by-step assessment of the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats seen in the potato value chain through a gender lens.
Trainees and farmers take away an ample amount of knowledge and skills that are then applied in various areas of potato management and beyond. The initiative also established a follow-up support mechanism to document success stories and promote the use of best practices.
So far, 471 teachers, 10,388 pupils, 870 farmers, and 644 farmers have benefited from the initiative. About 3,100 manuals on gender and value chain have been printed and shared across Uganda and beyond. This has helped beneficiaries identify gendered constraints and risks in the crop’s value chain, prompting family- and institutional-based solutions to mitigate them.
A review made by the university team has shown that it is crucial to look for alternative funds, and not rely exclusively on the support of external donors for the necessary capacity development (CD) initiatives on agricultural risk management (ARM). A key opportunity of this training-based initiative is that it is handled by community-based workers who reside in the same localities as the farmers, and they can therefore easily contact each other. In addition, the training activities are supported by a well-developed guide (both in English and in the local languages), clearly describing how to conduct a gender analysis and how to identify and tackle gender-related challenges.
This initiative started as a short-lived project, and once the funds runs out, it will not be possible to provide technical support to the farmers. In an attempt to address the financial gaps, the Makerere University has partnered with private financial institutions to provide financing packages, including loans and insurances to buyers of orange-fleshed potato produce and products. It is expected that such support could enable farmers and other beneficiaries to make profitable investment into orange-fleshed potato, and continue supporting the gender-sensitive training processes in the local communities.