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Gender-Responsive Crop Improvement: From Great Training to Evidence from the Field

A special issue of Sustainability (ISSN 2071-1050). This special issue belongs to the section "Sustainable Agriculture".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (2 March 2023) | Viewed by 11362

Special Issue Editors


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Guest Editor
School of Women and gender Studies, College of Humanities and Social Sciences, Makerere University, P.O Box 7062, Kampala, Uganda
Interests: gender and citizenship; particularly relating to social citizenship and livelihoods; women’s land rights and women’s strategic presence and political settlement

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Guest Editor
Co-Director, Cultural Practice, LLC, 4300 Montgomery Avenue, Suite 305, Bethesda, MD 20814, USA
Interests: gender research methods; gender and agriculture; value chain analysis

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

The Gender-responsive Researchers Equipped for Agricultural Transformation project (GREAT) is a novel collaboration between Makerere University in Uganda and Cornell University in the United States centered around providing interdisciplinary gender training to agricultural researchers, with a focus on sub-Saharan Africa. Beginning in 2015 with a five-year grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, GREAT has to-date trained over 280 researchers from 51 institutions and 26 countries, and the first phase ended in April 2022.

The GREAT approach to gender-responsive agricultural research training differs substantially from previous training models, notably in the emphasis on interdisciplinarity, the length of the courses, and the combined focus on personal reflection, theory, and methods. A prior published issue detailed the key learnings from the first phase, covering the project process, e.g., pedagogy and model design, participant engagement and mentoring, training team composition and competencies, community of practice, and fellow engagement. This issue presents a collection of results-oriented publications from GREAT fellows and mentors across all training cohorts.

Dr. Josephine Ahikire
Dr. Deborah Rubin
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

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Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Sustainability is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2400 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • gender
  • agriculture
  • gender relations
  • plant breeding
  • participatory

Published Papers (7 papers)

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Research

24 pages, 5025 KiB  
Article
Identification of Gendered Trait Preferences among Rice Producers Using the G+ Breeding Tools: Implications for Rice Improvement in Ghana
by Benedicta Nsiah Frimpong, Bright Owusu Asante, Maxwell Darko Asante, Stephen John Ayeh, Bernard Sakyiamah, Eileen Nchanji, Gaudiose Mujawamariya, Negussie Zenna and Hale Tufan
Sustainability 2023, 15(11), 8462; https://doi.org/10.3390/su15118462 - 23 May 2023
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1361
Abstract
Rice is the main staple for more than half of the world’s population. In Ghana, rice is the fastest growing food commodity, and it is consumed by almost every household. However, yields continue to be low, as the pace of adoption of new [...] Read more.
Rice is the main staple for more than half of the world’s population. In Ghana, rice is the fastest growing food commodity, and it is consumed by almost every household. However, yields continue to be low, as the pace of adoption of new varieties is low. The low rate of adoption has been attributed to failure of modern breeding to incorporate preferred traits for end users. This study thus employed an innovative set of breeding tools, the G+ tools, in identifying gendered trait preferences to develop a robust product profile through a mixed-method approach. The assertion that “men focus more on production and marketing related traits as women focus on production and cooking qualities” was also ascertained. Descriptive, inferential and content analyses were conducted, and the results indicate ecological differences in varietal choices. Production and marketing traits are jointly preferred by the gender groups. However, women and young women paid attention to post-harvest and cooking quality traits. The gender impact scores generated indicated there are tradeoffs in the traits preferred. These findings highlight the significance of recognizing geographical differences and gender heterogeneity in relation to varietal and trait preferences. In conclusion, the outcomes emphasize the necessity of gender-sensitive breeding work that considers the various needs and trait priorities of targeted men and women rice farmers in breeding decisions for a robust rice product profile. Full article
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18 pages, 330 KiB  
Article
Stressors and Resilience within the Cassava Value Chain in Nigeria: Preferred Cassava Variety Traits and Response Strategies of Men and Women to Inform Breeding
by Olamide Olaosebikan, Abolore Bello, Obaiya Utoblo, Benjamin Okoye, Nathaniel Olutegbe, Elisabeth Garner, Béla Teeken, Elizabeth Bryan, Lora Forsythe, Steven Cole, Peter Kulakow, Chiedozie Egesi, Hale Tufan and Tessy Madu
Sustainability 2023, 15(10), 7837; https://doi.org/10.3390/su15107837 - 10 May 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 2422
Abstract
This study investigated the trait preferences for cassava in the context of climate change and conflict stressors among value-chain actors in Nigeria to strengthen social inclusion and the community-resilience outcomes from breeding programs. Multi-stage sampling procedures were used to select and interview male [...] Read more.
This study investigated the trait preferences for cassava in the context of climate change and conflict stressors among value-chain actors in Nigeria to strengthen social inclusion and the community-resilience outcomes from breeding programs. Multi-stage sampling procedures were used to select and interview male and female value-chain participants in the Osun, Benue and Abia States. The results indicated that farmers preferred cassava traits such as drought tolerance, early bulking, multiple-product use and in-ground storability to strengthen resilience. Climate change and challenges related to social change shaped the response strategies from both genders, and influenced trait preferences, including the early re-emergence of cassava leaves, stems that had ratooning potential, and especially the root milking that was important among female respondents. The major response strategies employed by men included frequent farm visits to prevent theft and engaging in non-agricultural livelihoods. Those employed by women included backyard farming, early harvesting, having preferences for food with fewer processing steps, and depending on remittances. The resilience capacity was higher for men than for women due to their better access to assets, as well as their abilities to relocate their farms and out-migrate in search of other livelihoods. Considering gendered cassava traits, and enhancing their resilience and response strategies, can complement efforts to make breeding more socially inclusive, resilient, and anticipatory to future challenges created by climate and related social changes. Full article
28 pages, 1451 KiB  
Article
Access and Control of Resources and Participation in Rice-Breeding Activities among Men and Women Farmers in Southern Ghana
by Bright Owusu Asante, Ranjitha Puskur, Elizabeth Garner, Margaret Najjingo Mangheni, Richard Adabah, Maxwell Darko Asante, Benedicta Nsiah Frimpong and Stephen Prah
Sustainability 2023, 15(9), 7069; https://doi.org/10.3390/su15097069 - 23 Apr 2023
Viewed by 1156
Abstract
This paper provides evidence of gender differences in the access and control of resources and their relation to participation in rice-breeding activities among men and women farmers in southern Ghana. We used a mixed methods design which involved the use of qualitative data [...] Read more.
This paper provides evidence of gender differences in the access and control of resources and their relation to participation in rice-breeding activities among men and women farmers in southern Ghana. We used a mixed methods design which involved the use of qualitative data collected through focus group discussions (FGDs) and key informant interviews (KIIs) and quantitative data collection through a survey. Using data collected from 315 smallholder rice farmers, perception analyses and probit and multivariate regression were employed in the analyses. Our findings indicate that higher levels of education, experience in rice farming, a favorable dependency ratio, larger farm size, more rice plots, access to extension services, and involvement with financial organizations positively influence participation in rice-breeding activities. On the other hand, distance to market is found to have a negative impact on participation. Moreover, years of education, experience in rice farming, farm size, number of rice plots, dependency ratio, and distance to market were found to negatively influence the control of production resources among both male and female participants in rice-breeding activities. From both the quantitative and qualitative results, men had more access to productive resources than women. Insights from this study will enhance gender equity in promoting the participation of both men and women in rice varietal development activities. Full article
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20 pages, 2123 KiB  
Article
Why Gender Matters in Breeding: Lessons from Cooking Bananas in Uganda
by Losira Nasirumbi Sanya, Reuben Tendo Ssali, Mary Gorreth Namuddu, Miriam Kyotalimye, Pricilla Marimo and Sarah Mayanja
Sustainability 2023, 15(9), 7024; https://doi.org/10.3390/su15097024 - 22 Apr 2023
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1451
Abstract
This study examined the gender-differentiated trait preferences of cooking banana (matooke) for farmers and consumers in Central Uganda to inform banana-breeding strategies. Women and men banana farmers might have differing production objectives, norms, and values which drive decisions on which varieties [...] Read more.
This study examined the gender-differentiated trait preferences of cooking banana (matooke) for farmers and consumers in Central Uganda to inform banana-breeding strategies. Women and men banana farmers might have differing production objectives, norms, and values which drive decisions on which varieties to adopt and grow. However, breeders rarely consider this in their variety development programs, leading to lost opportunities for equitable breeding. An exploratory sequential mixed-method approach was used to obtain a richer understanding of the trait preferences of women and men, which explains the acceptability of cooking bananas. Consumer preference tests for the candidate banana varieties and released hybrids were also conducted. The results showed that the universal attributes for variety selection were bunch size, taste, resistance to pests and diseases, drought tolerance, food texture/softness, maturity period, and finger size. Men appreciated agronomic and market-related traits, such as tolerance to drought and poor soils, bunch size and compactness, maturity period, and shelf life, while women valued processing and cooking traits such as flavour, food colour, ease of peeling, finger size, and agronomic traits such as plant height. These are plausible attributes for the gender-responsive breeding of bananas. The findings highlight the need to redesign the banana-breeding pipeline and process in Uganda to deliver varieties with attributes desired by women and men along this commodity value chain. A participatory demand-driven and gender-responsive process involving stepwise selection criteria that commences with quality traits followed by production traits while integrating gender-specific preferences should be employed to ensure the acceptability of cooking banana hybrids by women and men end users. This requires integrating different disciplines, including social scientists and gender experts, along the entire breeding process for more inclusive products and equitable outcomes. Full article
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22 pages, 1612 KiB  
Article
Exploring Gender Differences in the Role of Trait Preferences among Stakeholders in the Rice Value Chain in Ghana
by Bright Owusu Asante, Benedicta Nsiah Frimpong, Maxwell Darko Asante, Stephen Prah, Stephen John Ayeh, Bernard Sakyiamah, Negussie Zenna, Gaudiose Mujawamariya and Hale Ann Tufan
Sustainability 2023, 15(7), 6026; https://doi.org/10.3390/su15076026 - 30 Mar 2023
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1670
Abstract
This paper examines the gendered trait preferences for rice and their role in the adoption of improved rice varieties among men and women rice farmers in Ghana. Four hundred rice farm households and 261 consumers were surveyed across 20 communities using a simple [...] Read more.
This paper examines the gendered trait preferences for rice and their role in the adoption of improved rice varieties among men and women rice farmers in Ghana. Four hundred rice farm households and 261 consumers were surveyed across 20 communities using a simple random sampling technique. Kendall’s coefficient of concordance, Tobit, and the multivariate probit regressions were used in the analyses. The results show differences in preferences for cooking quality traits and postharvest traits among men and women farmers. There was also a gender differential in the intensity of purchasing rice among men and women consumers. The results show that rice farmers’ decisions to adopt any of the four varieties—AGRA rice, Jasmine, Togo Marshall, or Amankwatia—are influenced by age, being married or indigenous, years of schooling, off-farm activities, farming experience, household size, farm size, FBO membership, extension contact, market proximity, and access to credit. To improve the rice value chain in Ghana, rice breeding efforts should consider varieties with trait preferences such as being tolerant of pest and diseases, aromatic, early maturing, and tolerance to shattering. However, to enhance the consumption of improved rice varieties, breeding efforts should target varieties that are aromatic, good textured, and have medium-sized grains for female consumers, while for male consumers preferred varieties would be less easily broken, white grain color, translucent, and with short cooking time. Full article
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16 pages, 802 KiB  
Article
Participatory Evaluation of Sorghum Processing and Sensory Attributes in Mali: Methodology for Improving Food Security Outcomes from Variety Development Efforts
by Krista Isaacs, Marjolein Smit, Bakary Samaké, Fred Rattunde, Fatimata Cissé, Abdoulaye Diallo, Mamourou Sidibe and Eva Weltzien
Sustainability 2023, 15(5), 4312; https://doi.org/10.3390/su15054312 - 28 Feb 2023
Viewed by 1073
Abstract
A requirement for the successful development of new sorghum varieties in Mali is effective evaluation of grain qualities, since sorghum is a staple food crop on which farmers rely for food security. The diversity of grain quality and social aspects that determine varietal [...] Read more.
A requirement for the successful development of new sorghum varieties in Mali is effective evaluation of grain qualities, since sorghum is a staple food crop on which farmers rely for food security. The diversity of grain quality and social aspects that determine varietal acceptability for processing and cooking, however, make this a challenging task. As the processors of sorghum grain in households, women’s knowledge of grain quality traits can contribute to this work. Our objective is to understand opportunities to use grain quality traits to identify experimental varieties that may contribute to food security. Culinary evaluations were conducted in nine villages across two sorghum production zones. Three teams of women, one per replicate, processed, cooked and evaluated five test varieties in each village. Sensory evaluations were conducted by 25 taste testers per village. The major varietal differences observed included the decortication losses, women’s appreciation for ease of processing, and consistency of the prepared food. The participatory evaluation of the quality testing results led to the development of the concept of ‘food yield’. Discussion of these results focuses on designing cost-efficient grain and food quality evaluations that rely on women’s expertise as processors and strengthens their role in the variety development process. Full article
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20 pages, 518 KiB  
Article
Importance of the Social Structures in Cowpea Varietal Demands for Women and Men Farmers in Segou Region, Mali
by Almamy Sylla, Jummai Othniel Yila, Sory Diallo and Sékou Traoré
Sustainability 2023, 15(4), 3433; https://doi.org/10.3390/su15043433 - 13 Feb 2023
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1399
Abstract
Cowpea is the second most consumed leguminous crop after groundnut in Mali. Its national production was 260,000 tons in 2018. It contributes to nitrogen fixation in the soil. The improved varieties of cowpea cultivars contain traits such as high grain yield, drought resistance, [...] Read more.
Cowpea is the second most consumed leguminous crop after groundnut in Mali. Its national production was 260,000 tons in 2018. It contributes to nitrogen fixation in the soil. The improved varieties of cowpea cultivars contain traits such as high grain yield, drought resistance, and early maturity. However, the adoption of improved cowpea varieties remains low. The non-participation and or non-consideration of the needs of men and women farmers in the varietal selection process contributed to the low adoption rate of improved cowpea varieties. This study aims to understand the gender dynamics and social structures within the communities. It examines its influence on the adoption of improved varieties of cowpea. Anchored on gender relations theories, gender and social structures are analyzed as the core frame for organizing social relations that guide and coordinate individuals’ actions in a given situation. Qualitative and quantitative approaches were applied to collect data from cowpea growers in 11 villages around the Cinzana Research Station. It emerged from the study that male farmers are quick adopters of newly released cowpea varieties because they are mainly more involved in trials, innovation platforms, field visits, demonstration plot activities, and FPVS than women. Women are less involved in these activities, except in sorting harvested cowpea grains and seeds in the Cinzana Research Station. Women’s participation in cowpea related-activities is determined by the rules and norms of physical mobility and the structures that control and guide social interactions and connections within and outside of households and communities. The study recommends efficient resource allocation within households and communities, and the set up of strong institutional frameworks (such as innovation platforms) to enable women in adopting new and improved cowpea varieties and to expand the available opportunities in the cowpea production system. Full article
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