Bathinda: Showcasing concern over lower visibility of information to women in agriculture despite they being the integral part, an event ‘Reaching women farmers with climate-smart agriculture information: How can we do better?’ was organised at Delhi on Tuesday to discuss the challenges reported by women farmers in India and Africa about accessing agricultural information.
It was stressed that women farmers are a crucial resource in agriculture and in the global efforts to build sustainable, climate-resilient food systems. In India, women account for more than 80% of work in the livestock sector and 33% in the crop cultivation sector and nearly half of the agricultural laborers in the country. With men leaving agriculture faster than women in response to climate extremes—mostly because they can find other jobs—these shares are set to grow further. Despite this, agricultural information, including strategies on climate resilience, continues to be directed at household heads and thus fails to reach women farmers.
The discussion centred around how these challenges intensified during the pandemic and the possible approaches that could bridge this gendered information gap more effectively. The event was organized as part of the project ‘Reaching Smallholder Women with Information Services and Resilience Strategies to Respond to Climate Change’, which is being supported by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) through the Fund International Agricultural Research (FIA) project of the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH.
Studies show that not only are traditional extension approaches perpetuating inequity in accessing information on climate resilience strategies, but they are also directly responsible for the lower adoption of adaptation strategies by women farmers. The project aims at addressing these structural inequities and facilitating women’s contribution to climate-smart agriculture (CSA) by directly reaching out to 40,000 women in smallholder farm households in Gujarat, India, and parts of Kenya and Uganda, using innovative video-based information services which feature the women themselves implementing climate adaptation strategies of their choice. “Utilization of such gender-sensitive dissemination approaches to facilitate uptake of CSA practices will increase resilience to climate change, and contribute to closing gendered yield gaps, improving food security, and reducing natural resource degradation,” said Shahidur Rashid, Director – South Asia, IFPRI.
The adaptation strategies on the videos, all selected by women farmers themselves, included integrated pest management (IPM) and soil testing in India. To ensure that women would be reached, the videos were rolled out through grassroots women’s organizations such as Self-Employed Women’s Association (SEWA) in India and GROOTS in Kenya and Uganda’s public extension system together with university institutions.
Reflecting on the implementation of agriculture extension programs, Ashish Kumar Srivastava, Joint Secretary, Department of Agriculture Government of India said, “Extension programs should be designed keeping the ground realities in mind using a bottom-up planning approach that integrated stakeholders from the grassroot levels”. Mansi Shah, Senior Technical Coordinator in Rural Economic and Development, SEWA, remarked, “The knowledge tests indicated that over 90% of the members trained using a combination of video and poster on soil testing were able to understand the importance of soil testing as well as its technical details.” With its extensive field staff, SEWA is currently training more than 30,000 women farmers on these resilience strategies.
Uganda’s extension service rolled out the videos as part of a broader video-based knowledge platform strategy. Patience Rwamigisa, Head of the Department of Agricultural Extension and Skills Management at Uganda’s Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries, said, “Such a video-based extension approach has the potential to break down the gendered barriers in climate resilience knowledge. Emphasizing the importance of implementing extension services by involving both men and women, AK Singh, Deputy Director General (Agricultural Extension), ICAR added, “We need to overcome the socio-cultural barriers to bring men and women together to enhance access to information.”
Watching the videos increased the awareness of minimum tillage among women in Kenya by 25%, and of water harvesting by 19%, while there was no discernible impact of changes in awareness by men. Dennis Njunge, Monitoring, Evaluation, Research, and Learning Manager at Grassroots Organizations Operating Together in Sisterhood (GROOTS) Kenya, noted, “During the discussions following the video showings, women farmers requested to watch more videos on climate-smart crop management and livestock keeping.”
Prita Das Gupta, Gender Expert, Digital Green said, “Sustained change can happen only when we combine different modes of information including physical and digital.” Dr. Anil Kumar, Director, ICAR- Central Institute for Women in Agriculture (ICAR-CIWA) also noted how “WhatsApp and popular social media platforms” have been helpful in sharing information on a wider scale. Claudia Ringler, Deputy Director of Environment and Production Technology Division, IFPRI, and the project lead summarized, “The results are hugely promising; audio-visual media, especially such demonstration videos, can convey information better and faster and are very well received by women and men farmers.

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