Dec. 15, 2015

Mainstreaming gender in an agricultural M4P programme: MADE's approach in practice

Ghana MADE knowledge–gender team

Practical insights on how an M4P programme like MADE recognises entry points for gender. 

Nathan Associates is managing the Market Development Programme for Northern Ghana (MADE), a four-year programme funded by DFID. MADE uses the M4P approach to achieve a positive change in the annual real incomes of over 78,000 women and men smallholder farmers (SHF) and small-scale entrepreneurs engaged in its target market sectors. 

A discussion paper for an M4P WEE framework provides a comparison of how the M4P and WEE approaches complement each other. The author notes that women cannot be considered a uniform group: 'within a specific context, women are differentiated by class, caste, religion, race and ethnicity, facing dissimilar barriers and unequal access to opportunities'. The three maps below  provide MADE’s assessment of the heterogeneous constraints faced by women who live and work within the same region, but reside in different communities or districts.  

The assessment is built around the Gender Status Index's economic power component, addressing the sub-components of income ('control over produce'), time use ('control over time'), and access to resources ('access to land and control over land use'). 

A diversified situation in gender: evidence on differentiated approaches within regional districts in the North

Illustrative MADE interventions to address the above constraints include: 

  1. Access to and control over land use: MADE encourages partners (such as input dealers or seed suppliers) to share their positive gender inclusion experiences, and their commercial gains from it. Emmanuel Ahaa from AE Enterprise, a rice aggregator that has trained its farmers on GAP, says: 'I prefer using women as out-growers because they are early adopters of new technologies introduced and do it to specifications […] they get better yields and are able to repay inputs credit in full'. MADE gives him a platform to share his view and influence other players. Early signs of replication are apparent: the Chief of Biu in Navrongo, a partner aggregator of Adakant Enterprise, has allocated land for free to 43 women in his community who are engaged in rice and groundnut production. He also supports them with inputs by linking them to financial institutions and buys back their produce. With increased incomes from their farms, women are now able to support the educational, health and other needs of their households.
  2. Control over produce: MADE conducted a thorough profiling of women rice and vegetables traders and processors. MADE's monitoring information shows early results of this exhaustive mapping: in the onion and other vegetables sectors, over 50 per cent of women producers who were trained adopted improved seeds and replicated GAP on their own plots, leading to increased yields. Through addressing the constrains women faced that MADE identified, PARED, one of MADE's partners in the vegetable market sector, has addressed accessibility and records that 54 per cent of their GAP early adopters are now women. MADE is also developing partnership agreements with firms that will design and deliver bespoke business solutions that address the felt needs of women traders and processors, and development of a 'warehouse receipt system' that will increase female smallholders’ access to credit.
  3. Control over time: we identify technologies along the value chain that respond to women's needs and stated preferences. For instance, we are in talks with some aggregators to introduce machinery that is time saving, less physically demanding, and affordable for women-specific tasks along the value chain. This will be accompanied by an explanation on the benefits of introducing such technology to providers (usually aggregators) so they upfront the cost. 

In the Microlinks intervention guide for the women’s empowerment in agriculture index (WEAI), the authors present USAID’s best practice in gender mainstreaming in agriculture projects. The guide presents five main domains where gender can be mainstreamed in development projects. Under each of these areas, the authors provide a selection of potential interventions based on best practices. 

Selected MADE interventions mirror selected best practices, while providing an overview of practical next steps development partners can emulate. For a complete overview of interventions see the full case study

Decision-making over production

WEAI Intervention 1: increase women’s access to extension and advisory services
Any M4P approach to agricultural market development will consider knowledge gaps as a major constraint, therefore most programmes include the facilitation of extension and advisory services to smallholder farmers. Importantly, understanding that women and men will have different access to these services will determine the gender inclusiveness of these interventions. 

In order to address these issues, MADE: 

  • Engages with female AEAs. In Ghana, 13 per cent of AEAs are women. MADE is above this percentage in Upper West (15 per cent) and we are striving to exceed it in the other regions. Consciously engaging with female AEAs involves an adaptation of the AEA partner selection criteria to ensure women are represented, as this is a proven requirement to reach wider groups of female smallholder farmers
  • Encourages partners to provide travelling allowances to women smallholders. MADE ensures that every female beneficiary has access to extension services by facilitating the deployment of AEAs to address their extension needs at times convenient to them
  • Identified constraints to women benefiting from these services across all our market areas. Part of this exercise is evident in the maps presented above. MADE's monitoring information shows early results of this exhaustive mapping: in the onion and other vegetables sectors, over 50 per cent women producers who were trained adopted improved seeds and replicated GAP on their own plots, leading to increased yields. 

Control over use of income

WEAI Intervention 5: connect female farmers to markets
Market linkages are an essential aspect of M4P agricultural programmes, as it contributes to the framework's holistic approach to addressing market dysfunctions. 

Accordingly, MADE: 

  • Conducted gender screenings under each of our market areas in order to profile the gender gap in accessing markets. As shown below, this assessment allowed us to identify entry-points for gender mainstreaming at different stages of the value chain. Through this mapping, the team gained a tailored understanding of the most effective ways of engaging with the female end beneficiaries under each value chain. For instance, we are emphasising the introduction of female-friendly technologies among aggregators that employ women for seed selection under the rice and groundnut value chains. 

Challenges and next steps

  • M4P limitations to directly address women’s needs: while an exhaustive market screening is essential to identify gender inequalities in accessibility to markets, the M4P approach limits the extent to which its programmes can directly intervene – ie through the provision of subsidies for introducing gender-sensitive products. An illustration is the issue of women's access to  labour saving equipment, such as tractor services: women enter a poverty trap as they lose out on the productivity of their own plots. In order to ensure sustainable change, MADE has designed its rental and leasing intervention with women's needs as a priority
  • Difficulty identifying adequate entry-points: traditional female sectors such as rice, groundnut and vegetables processing are good entry points for promoting and empowering women, as they have low risk of men opposition or takeover. However, success conditions, including women’s access to processing equipment, pose a problem due to women’s lack of access to capital. Through MADE’s BDS interventions, women will be linked to financial institutions and equipment providers so they can acquire and own the equipment for processing
  • Difficulty identifying relevant progress indicators (beyond output level): while disaggregation at output level is important, the effective mainstreaming of gender considerations requires a deep understanding of gender dynamics at different levels. Geographic location has a huge impact on gender metrics: progress in access and control over resources may be considered high in one location, but low in another. This poses a challenge in the definition of metrics at MADE level. However, it is a challenge that MADE embraces, and for which we will continue to roll out data collection systems that allow us to capture and respond to gender opportunities.
  • Coordination difficulties within the implementation team: M4P programmes need to be flexible and have the capacity to adapt quickly. MADE’s team is formed of a cross-cutting section (including gender), and a technical team, that includes the market development specialists. We have set out clear communication mechanisms so that the gender specialist is involved in all new intervention areas, which ensures that  renewed screenings can be conducted and relevant indicators measured.

The authors of this blog are Clara García Parra, Theresa Baveng, and Joseph Kugbe, from the Ghana MADE Knowledge Management – Gender team.

To find out more about MADE, visit their website and sign up to their newsletter.

Read the full case study

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