Women Feel the Impact of Climate Change

June 19, 2010, taken from http://www.baiganchoka.com

“We are dependent on agriculture, which is totally dependent on good weather”, says Nompumelelo Maluleke as she shades her eyes from the fierce glare of the mid-day sun.

As a rural woman, she says, the biggest challenge she faces is food insecurity caused by changing climatic conditions. Gazing over her dry and dusty fields, she adds: “If there was good weather, timely rain, and availability of water, energy and food security, our work as women would be much easier.”

Maluleke, a 66-year-old KwaZulu Natal small farmer, has seen many changes for the worse in weather and climatic conditions on her land in Ntshongweni, north of Durban. “Over the years I have seen floods and drought ravaging my village, which was once considered the provincial maize basket,” she says.

In good years her maize would be shoulder-high by the end of the growing season. Even in bad years, her crop would rustle around her waist. But this year only a few plants have survived to grow knee-high, withering in the heat. Maize production on her land has dropped from five tons per hectare to three. Experts now believe dry-land maize production could fail entirely in much of southern Africa by mid-century, forcing a switch to alternative crops.

“We have experienced droughts recently but this is the worst I can remember,” she said. “The sun is so hot, and there is little hope now that we are going to survive.” The negative effects of climate change are likely to hit the poorest people in the poorest countries hardest.

Maluleke is the primary care-giver for her family in times of disaster and environmental stress.  “The existing shortfalls in water have been exacerbated and now, the time I take to fetch water or wood has certainly increased my workload, limiting my opportunities to branch out into other, non-traditional activities,” she said.

People hereabouts used to farm in keeping with a familiar seasonal pattern. The farmers would clear their land in October and November so they could spend December and January planting and working their fields. “But things have changed. When we think we should be planting, harvesting or resting, in fact it’s the opposite, because of the climate,” Maluleke explained.   Read more.

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The Impact of Technologies on Women in Asian Rice Farming

by Paris, T.  Book chapter from Impact of Rice Research

Pingali P, Hossain M, editors. 1998. Impact of rice research. Proceedings of the International Conference on the Impact of Rice Research, 3-5 Jun 1996, Bangkok, Thailand. Thailand Development Research Institute, Bangkok, Thailand, and International Rice Research Institute, P.O. Box 933, Manila, Philippines. 428 p.

With the introduction of the new agricultural technologies, particularly fertilizer responsive, high-yielding varieties of rice and wheat, unprecedented increments in the production of food grains were seen in most rice- and wheat-producing regions. However, despite this initial success in ameliorating food problems for Asia’s fast-growing population, some researchers (Cleaver 1972, Rao 1975, Griffin and Ghose 1979) claimed that the green revolution had widened the income disparity between large and small-scale farmers, landlords and tenants, farmer-cultivators and landless families. Still other researchers pointed out the ways in which women suffered negatively from technological and socio economic changes brought on by the development process (Palmer 1975, Cain 1981, Begum1985, Sajogyo 1985).  Studies have shown that poor rural women in Asia work longer hours than men and that they are overworked (Agarwal 1985, Sajogyo 1985). However, statements in the literature on “women in development” regarding how technological change affects womenare often contradictory. Some analysts charge that poor and landless women have lost jobs and income-earning opportunities because of the adoption of direct seeding, introduction of threshers, commercial mills, and other kinds of technology, whereas other analysts clamor for technologies to eliminate drudgery or reduce women’s work burden. If technologies have reduced work opportunities, agricultural development policies will have to focus on ways of providing more rather than less work. On the other hand, the availability of too much work for too little income points to the need for labor-saving technologies to reduce the burden of working hours and/or to achieve greater productivity per working hour (White 1985).  Despite this often emotional debate on the negative impact of labor-saving rice technologies on rural women and the need for technologies to reduce women’s work burden, little research has explicitly reviewed the conditions under which specific rice technologies can help or hurt poor farm women. This paper will discuss women’s role in rice farming and specific technologies that directly affect them; the effects of technologies on different categories of women; the conditions under which women can reap the benefits of technological change; and the future roles of rural women in rice farming systems.

Read and download article here.

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Contributions of Social Science Perspective in Rice Research and Technology Development in eastern India. Challenges and Opportunities to Make a Difference

by Paris, T.

Lead Paper presented at the International Conference  on Social Science Perspective in Agricultural Research and Development, New Delhi, India, February 15-18, 2006. Organized by VARDAN in collaboration with International Food Policy Research Institute.

Over the years, the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) in partnership with the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) and National Agricultural Research and Extension Systems (NARES) in Eastern India have been contributing to the development of rice and rice-related technologies to improve food security and increase income of rice consuming population. Without underestimating the significance of this work, it is evident that much still remains to be done in making an impact among those the poorest of the poor who live in diverse, complex and fragile rainfed rice environments.  There has been an obvious gap between the development of technologies and their effective utilization by poor farmers, both men and women. Given these continuing lacunae, it is highly appropriate for international and national agricultural research and development institutions dealing with rice-based systems to give serious attention to the use of social science research in identifying the bottlenecks in technology development, adoption and utilization.  This paper highlights the contributions of social sciences in research and technology development in collaboration with the NARES in eastern India. It provides suggestions to strengthen the inputs of social scientists in problem-oriented research at the institutional,project and individual level.

Read and download article Contributions of Social Science Perspectives in Rice Research and TD in EI-April 19.

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Mainstreaming social and gender concerns in participatory rice varietal improvement for rainfed environments in Eastern India

Paris T, Singh A, Singh VN, Ram PC, a paper presented at the International Symposium on Participatory Breeding and Knowledge Management for Strengthening Rural Livelihoods. 17-19 July 2006. Held at Sambivan Auditorium, M.S. Swaminathan Research Foundation. Taramani Institutional Area, Third Cross Street, Chennai 60013, India.

‘Participation’ and ‘participatory’ have become such fashionable terms recently that any kind of activity involving a group of people is termed ‘participatory’. The ideal participatory research is when the people are genuine participants in different stages of research activities rather than simply “involved” as data givers or recipients of research findings.  Participatory means people actively participate by implementing and taking control of all activities during the research process.  Just as there are numerous participatory rural appraisal (PRA) tools used in problem diagnosis and identifying technology options, participation of farmers in rice varietal improvement projects should not be seen as an end in itself.  Rather, it should be seen as a means to an end – namely the production of varieties that are better adapted to the needs of end users in their given agro ecological environments.

Thus a major challange facing managers of institutional breeding programs is to figure out ways to foster increased participation by end users.  Unfortunately however, ‘participatory research for development’ does not automatically result to participation or inclusion of marginalized groups of the society including poor women who contribute significantly in rice production and post harvest activities including seed selection, storage and processing rice for various products.  Moreoever, examples of how social including gender analysis add an important dimension to assessing the potential benefits of participatory rice varietal improvement are rare.

This paper first provides the background of the participatory rice varietal improvement of the International Rice Research Insitute (IRRI) in collaboration with the National Agricultural Research and Extension Systems (NARES) in Eastern India.  It describes the participatory methods and tools used in incorporating social and gender concerns in the states of plant breeding process; identifies several constraints experienced by the researchers in including women at the initial stage of the project; discusses the positive social benefits due to inclusion of the marginalized groups of the society (lower caste and women from poor farming households) and discuss challenges that will have to be overcome to mainstream social and gender concerns into end-user based participatory approaches in rice varietal improvement programs.

Read and download article here .

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Gender Analysis in Crop-Animal Research

T.R. Paris

For the past years, increased attention has been given to the important roles of rural women in Asian agriculture. Except in landpreparation and application of chemicals, they are predominantly involved either as unpaid labor or wage laborers in planting, weeding, harvesting, manual threshing, manual grain processing, seed management, and marketing. Aside from their household responsibilities, they collect fodder for animals and manage small animals and poultry. They are important users of crop and animal by products. Given these traditional tasks, they are faced with the problems of seasonal shortages of animal fodder, expensive feed concentrates, diseases in small animals and poultry, lack of skills in improved methods of animal management, and lack of access to credit to acquire animals and knowledge regarding crop and animal technologies. They have often been bypassed and omitted as target beneficiaries of farming systems research and extension (FSRE).  One of the reasons for this neglect is the lack of a systematic and practical method of collecting information and incorporating women’s concerns in the process of technology development and extension. If the overall goal of FSRE is to increase production, raise income, and improve farm families’ welfare, gender issues and women’s concerns should be addressed by scientists, extension workers, and policymakers. Gender analysis is a tool for understanding men’s and women’s roles and responsibilities in the agricultural activities, their use, access to and control of resources, participation in decision-making and contributions to household income. This information isused in identifying constraints and opportunities for technological interventions. This paper discusses the methodology of gender analysis in each phase of the FSRE process and cites case studies which explicitly address women’s technology needs in crop-animalsystems in Asia under the Asian Rice Farming Systems Network (ARFSN) collaborative research.

Read and download paper – CLICK HERE.

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