BRINGING AGRICULTURE EXTENSION SERVICES THROUGH GENDER LENS
I am a farmer. I own land. I play a vital role as an agricultural producer and an agent of food security. Farming has educated me. But most important of all, I am a woman. That’s what I how I wish to be addressed. Perception bias that “women are not farmers” makes it more challenging to provide agricultural extension services—to women. Such instance leads to inequality in service provision, typically to the disadvantage of women and the poor. Nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and communities themselves are alternative providers of these services, but they often also fail.
Women are predominantly engaged in the agricultural sector and in subsistence production in most of developing countries. Trade liberalization has often had the effect of increasing the production of export (cash) crops, while increasing imports of food crops that compete with locally produced crops and therefore depress their prices. Women and men are affected differently. Most of the women are small scale food crop farmers whereas men engage in production and marketing of products traded in regional and international markets.
Three out of four poor people in the developing world live in rural areas, and most of them depend— directly or indirectly—on agriculture for their livelihoods. Providing agricultural extension, is essential for using agriculture for development. However, such services are difficult to provide in rural areas, because they are subject to the triple challenge of market, state, and community failure. With failures in the market, the private sector is unable to provide desirable extension services. The state is not very effective in providing these services. Leading to a clientelism state, this refers to the tendency of politicians to provide public services to citizens in exchange for political advantage.
Having in mind that rural populations in developing countries are heavily dependent on agriculture, access to adequate agricultural knowledge remains a critical issue in many developing countries. Extension services improve the knowledge base of farmers through a variety of means, such as demonstrations, model plots, specific training and group meetings. However, the question remains; to what extent is the delivery process of the agricultural extension and advisory services (EAS) effective in reaching poor women and men farmers on an equal basis? Women, more than men, are exposed to a range of challenges that prevent them from accessing EAS. Its therefore vital for officials working in delivering agriculture extension services to have knowledge on how to serve their communities better. A training on Gender Approaches to Agricultural Extension Practices Course in Nairobi, Kenya on 12th -16th March 2018 from Indepth Research Service is a sure bet on gaining that knowledge.
By: Annet Wekesa
Digital Marketer: Indepth Research Services