The hand that rocks the thresher

On the sidelines “Women from poor farming and landless households contribute 20–75% of the labor required for rice production in Asia,” explained Thelma Paris, senior IRRI scientist on gender analysis. “Unfortunately, gender inequalities in relation to access to resources and support services still persist due to erroneous assumptions and misconceptions as well as deeply embedded social norms.

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Assessing Needs, Constraints and Livelihood Opportunities in Coastal Saline Environments: a Case in Orissa, India

by Paris T.1, Saha S.2, Singh D.P.2, Mahata K.R.2, Delos Reyes-Cueno A.1, Zolvinski S.1, and Ismail A.M1 in CAB International 2010. Tropical Deltas and Coastal Zones: Food Production, 320 Communities and Environment at the Land–Water Interface (eds C.T. Hoanh et al.)
1International Rice Research Institute
2Central Rice Research Institute

The coastal saline ecosystem in Orissa State of eastern India extends from the shore of the Bay of Bengal to about 15 km inland. Salinity occurs because of the intrusion of seawater during high tides through surface channels, creeks, and rivers, particularly during the dry season, but decreases with freshwater flushing in the wet season. Salinity reaches its highest during April to May due to the increase in temperature from February onward, with a consequent increase in evapotranspiration and salt accumulation on surface soils. Because of poor pre-monsoon showers during April to May in some years, soil salinity still persists and can seriously affect crop establishment in early June. Moreover, a shortage of irrigation water limits the cultivation of dry-season rice and other non-rice crops. This study attempts to develop a systematic understanding of target environments and the livelihood of people in these areas as bases for exploring opportunities for improving land and water productivity as well as farmers’ livelihood through varietal improvement and proper crop management practices.

Baseline social (including gender analysis) and economic surveys using a pre-tested structured questionnaire of 50 households were conducted in six villages in Jagatsinghpur District to assess the socioeconomic characteristics of the farming households, indigenous knowledge and farming practices, gender roles, use of rice varieties on different land types, share of rice and other sources of income in livelihood systems, and profitability of current rice cultivation practices and inputs. Through focus group discussions, farmers identified their problems, prioritized their needs, and matched them with opportunities to improve their livelihood. Farmers gave positive feedback on participatory experiments involving salt-tolerant rice varieties and associated crop and water management technologies conducted in their fields, for both wet and dry seasons. Improved varieties had at least twice the yields of traditional varieties that yield less than 1.5 t/ha. Sunflower is well accepted as a rotation crop after rice. With the new varieties, farmers feel more secure the at they will have a continuous supply of rice for a year instead of four to nine months before the project began. Several lessons were learned from this research: (i) the need for a strong interaction between biological and social scientists in problem-oriented research; (ii) the use of community participatory approaches in the design, validation, and dissemination of technologies; (iii) the need to enhance the capacities of both men and women farmers in rice production technologies and improved seed management; (iv) a need to anticipate and address constraints to the widespread adoption of rice and rice-based technologies; (v) inclusion of both men and women farmers in evaluating new salt-tolerant varieties; (vi) expansion of sunflower production as a suitable crop for saline areas, after rice; and (vii) a need to evaluate additional crops adapted to these saline areas and that have a high market value.

Read the paper here
(in pdf).

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Farmer’s participation in rice variety selection

Truong Thi Ngoc Chi1, Phan Van Liem1 and Thelma Paris2
1Cuu Long Delta Rice Research Institute, Can Tho, Vietnam
2International Rice Research Institute, Los Baños, Laguna, Philippines

published at: OMONRICE JOURNAL VOL. 15 (2007)


Direct interview of 64 outstanding and experienced male and female farmers by using structured questionnaire and focus group discussion in Long An revealed that the important criteria in rice varietal selection included high yield and high price at harvest. However, male farmers considered more about the rice traits associated with the adaptation to abiotic and biotic environmental conditions while female farmers were more concerned about the characteristics related to post – harvest, especially good eating quality and high income from selling high rice price. Thus, to not neglecting women’s criteria, it is necessary to increase breeding and planting high quality rice.

Read or download the complete paper here.

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IFPRI Gender Blog

CG center IFPRI (International Food Policy Research Institute) is facilitating a Gender and Food Policy blog (  The blog aims to consolidate and serve as an information portal and share topics of gender and food policy (including issues such as hunger, food security, nutrition, governance, land, agriculture etc).

Basically, this blog and IFPRI’s share the same objective of delivering knowledge, results and advocate the importance of gender issues in agricultural systems, poverty alleviation and food security.

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Priorities for socio-economic research in farming systems in South-East Asia

Paris T. R. and C.C. Sevilla. 1995. Priorities for socio-economic research in farming systems in South-East Asia . Global Agenda for Livestock Research held in IRRI, Los Baños, The Philippines on 10-13 May 1995.

Experiments conducted on-station and on-farm for the alleviation of various constraints to animal production- such as acute shortage of animal fodder – indicated that most of these technologies were technically feasible, but that farmer adoption was relatively low due to socio-economic reasons. Some of the major socio-economic reasons were (a) declining trends in draft animal usage particularly because of mechanisation; (b) higher off-farm wage rates and opportunity costs of family labour; (c) unfavourable government agricultural policies for smallholder livestock development; (d) unavailability of required inputsand support services; (e) risk aversion; (f) inadequate training and extension for knowledge-intensivetechnology and lack of credit to the poor without collateral. Socio-economic research priorities in crop-animal research are (a) to review the past research conducted by NARS and identify priorities for further research; (b) farmer participatory research on dissemination of proven technologies in similar agro-climaticand socio-economic environments to increase research utilisation; (c) examination of tIle effects ofmacro-economic policies in relation to adoption of improved livestock as well as the changing trends fromsubsistence to commercialization; (d) study of farmers’ practices, knowledge, attitudes, perception and decision-making processes and the incorporation of women’s concerns in technology design, testing and evaluation of technologies; (e) more emphasis on ex-ante analysis of technologies; (f) systems simulationand modelling of crop-animal systems and, (g) evaluation of the impact of crop-animal integrated technologies.

Download and read the article here.

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