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Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Collaborative Research on Sustainable Intensification

Tag: Burkina Faso

Gender Sensitivity Training in Burkina Faso

Gender sensitivity training in Burkina Faso
The ADM Institute is a funding partner for the Appropriate Scale Mechanization Consortium, a subaward of the USAID-funded Sustainable Intensification Innovation Lab (SIIL) based at Kansas State University.Maria Jones recently joined the USAID-funded Appropriate Scale Mechanization Consortium (ASMC) team from INGENEAES. The Feed the Future project Integrating Gender and Nutrition within Agricultural Extension Services (INGENAES) is also housed in the College of ACES within the AgReach program at the University of Illinois.

In June, Tim Rendall, ASMC project manager, and Jones traveled to Burkina Faso to meet with the in-country team and work with a team of faculty and students to conduct a gender analysis of the ASMC’s planter technology. In addition, Jones and Rendall trained in-country staff on gender integration, using a participatory training approach developed by INGENAES known as the Introductory Gender in Agricultural Activities training.

Using adult learning principles such as role-playing, small group drawing, and demonstrations, the one-day workshop helped faculty, students, and ASMC partners in Burkina Faso explore complex and deep-rooted practices, including roles and responsibilities of men and women in rural households, and who has “power” in local households and societies. The training also helped participants look at ways in which men and women participate in different agricultural value chains.

The technology assessment toolkit used by Jones in the five-day technology assessment workshop was designed by Cultural Practice LLC within the INGENAES project. While technologies can improve the timing of agricultural tasks and reduce drudgery, technologies are not inherently gender neutral Mechanization projects need to consider that if mechanized tools are introduced, cultural norms might dictate that men might be the ones who own or control their use. Jones explains that conducting a gender analysis acts as a first step to help researchers determine if a technology is working for its intended purpose to benefit both men and women farmers.

Jones and Rendall worked with a team of faculty and students from the ASMC Innovation Hub in Burkina Faso, and consortium members Dr. Tim Harrigan (Michigan State University) and Rob Burdick (Tillers International) to assess the planter technology using the technology assessment toolkit. Through interviews and observations, the team was able to determine that women do influence the technology adoption decision-making process, although they do not control the household’s decision-making regarding technology purchase.

Additionally, the team observed that women who are members of local agricultural producer associations or unions seem to enjoy increased influence over household decision-making in adopting new technologies. Men seemed to trust the information disseminated by the unions , and more readily adopted agricultural technologies promoted by the unions.

Jones said her biggest takeaway from the experience in Burkina Faso was for project leaders and researchers to keep the core purpose in mind when developing and refining technologies. Getting to the purpose requires solutions that are feasible and consider social and economic realities.

Over the last month, the ASMC Innovation Hub in Burkina Faso has been working to implement certain recommendations from the initial technology assessment conducted in June. For example, the hub is looking to test their planter technology with donkeys as draft animal power, as a feasible alternative to oxen, especially since female farmers do not tend to own oxen. The hub is also preparing to conduct a detailed gender study of the planter technology and its impacts on women farmers’ time and labor.

To read more about the technical aspects of the ASMC project, please read the Sustainable Intensification Innovation Lab (SIIL) blog post about the project, located here

Mechanization is Advancing Sustainable Intensification in Burkina Faso

The overarching goal of the Appropriate Scale Mechanization Hub in Burkina Faso is to assist the country’s smallholder farmers in improving their quality of life by integrating appropriate technologies into crop and livestock systems that sustain profitability and boost ecosystem resilience by alleviating labor bottlenecks while reducing the drudgery of labor-intensive farm tasks.

Figure 1. Université Polytechnique de Bobo-Dioulasso students and ASMC interns Sayaogo Boureima, Victor Ye, Fatoumata Ganou and Dianda Saidou.

We are near the end of the second year of the SIIL Appropriate Scale Mechanization Consortium (ASMC) project and are reviewing the initial objectives established in collaboration with the stakeholder group and advisory team to ensure that our activities are in line with project objectives. Stakeholders include the U.S. and Burkina Faso ASMC project teams along with local farmers, extension educators, students, agribusiness representatives, agricultural lenders, farmer organizations, technical service providers and others in the Hauts Bassins region.

The interaction with stakeholders was essential in defining the scope and structure of the work in Burkina Faso, and just as importantly, in illuminating a set of common goals and values shared by Burkinabé farmers. We asked:

  • What is the local vision of small-scale farming systems that integrate all aspects of sustainability?
  • Which aspects of the local farming systems are most important to retain if the overall objective is a sustainable balance of environmental, economic and social issues?
  • What diminishes (physical, biological, cultural, etc.) the sustainability of local farming systems, and what can be done to overcome it?
  • How can mechanization improve local farming systems that balance sustainability and social and gender equity?

The participatory and inclusive interaction with stakeholders provided an essential understanding of field conditions and helped prioritize the needs, challenges, and opportunities for mechanization.  The resulting action plan continues to guide the project. Continue reading “Mechanization is Advancing Sustainable Intensification in Burkina Faso”

Animal Traction is an Appropriate Technology for Cropping System Mechanization in Burkina Faso

Figure 1. Administrative region map of Burkina Faso. The Appropriate Scale Mechanization Consortium zone of influence is the highlighted Hauts-Bassins region

Ninety-two percent of the population of Burkina Faso is involved in agricultural pursuits (Beal et al., 2015).  Agricultural production is labor intensive for smallholder farmers. Small landholders typically work less than 3.5 hectares, while mid-size farms are about 7 hectares and large farms are typically 10 hectares or larger. The rural population relies on subsistence farming, and nearly the entire rural population lives in poverty. Forty-five percent of the farms have an income of less than $1 per day.  The Appropriate Scale Mechanization Consortium (ASMC) has partnered with the Polytechnic University of Bobo-Dioulasso to improve management practices and technologies for maize cultivation in the Hauts-Bassins region of Burkina Faso. The main cash crops in this region are maize, cotton, soybeans, peanuts and sesame.  The mechanization practices developed for maize will be applicable and transferable to these other cash crops. These ASMC efforts will provide the smallholder farmers with improved agricultural techniques and technologies that will sustainably increase agricultural production, reduce labor and drudgery, increase socio-economic status, and improve the overall quality of life. Continue reading “Animal Traction is an Appropriate Technology for Cropping System Mechanization in Burkina Faso”

U.S. Ambassador Visits SIIL Field Sites

To improve agro-forestry and pastoral productivity and achieve food security in rural areas of Burkina Faso, the Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Collaborative Research on Sustainable Intensification (SIIL) partners with the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) and Institute of Environment and Agricultural Research (INERA), among several other institutions.

ILRI’s Augustine Ayantunde serves as the principal investigator for SIIL’s focus country subaward in Burkina Faso. In October 2016, Dr. Ayantunde led a visit for the U.S. Ambassador to Burkina Faso, Tulinabo Mushingi, to one of his project’s field sites in the Yatenga province. INERA director Hamidou Traore and SIIL management entity members Vara Prasad, Jan Middendorf, and Zach Stewart were also present. Continue reading “U.S. Ambassador Visits SIIL Field Sites”