Gender challenges in horticultural research in Ethiopia and Madagascar

S.M. Nischalke, M. Abebe, B. Assefa, G.B. Keding, S.K. Kriesemer, N. Randrianarison, T. Beuchelt
Female farmers are often overburdened with the multiple roles they assume in households, farming, childcare and the community. Horticultural projects that aim to improve nutrition and livelihoods usually address the women's domain of home gardens and vegetable farming. As a consequence, interventions tend to increase the workload of female farmers and run the risk of negatively affecting the well-being of women as well as the nutritional status of households. This paper explores gender challenges of horticultural projects using two case studies from Ethiopia and Madagascar, where an attempt is made to promote horticultural production in agroforestry systems without increasing the burden on already overstrained women farmers. Data were collected through ethnography, 42 gender-disaggregated focus group discussions and 25 in-depth interviews with smallholder farmers, as well as 19 key stakeholder interviews in four village sites in Oromia, Ethiopia, and two sites in south-eastern Madagascar. The do-no-harm framework was used as the conceptual framework. It identifies so-called connectors and dividers in households and communities to prevent “gender harms”, to offset the negative effects of interventions, and to develop mitigation strategies to improve project outcomes. Research results showed that many factors can become connectors or dividers depending on the project objectives and approach. In both locations, vital dividers for the project are the immense workload of women that prevents the expansion of vegetable cultivation and the low value that is attached to (indigenous) vegetable and fruit crops, especially by men, which does not match with their important role for diet and family nutrition. Other dividers are male-dominated extension services, the executive role of women in horticulture and low access to inputs. Mitigation strategies that should be developed can include territorial, technological and training solutions that aim to change behavior.
Nischalke, S.M., Abebe, M., Assefa, B., Keding, G.B., Kriesemer, S.K., Randrianarison, N. and Beuchelt, T. (2018). Gender challenges in horticultural research in Ethiopia and Madagascar. Acta Hortic. 1205, 137-146
DOI: 10.17660/ActaHortic.2018.1205.16
horticultural projects, nutrition, gender-sensitivity, women's work burden, do-no-harm-approaches, Ethiopia, Madagascar

Acta Horticulturae