Smart trainings made in Uganda: Taking action to change gender attitudes in smallholder farming households
Context and initiative
Agriculture is a key engine in local and regional economic development in East Africa and a critical source of income for most households in Uganda. Women constitute more than half of the country’s population and 76% of the agricultural work force. Across Ugandan farming households, substantial gender-based inequalities in access to and control of productive and financial resources prevail: it is usually the male heads of household alone that make decisions on how resources are allocated and spent. This has a detrimental effect on agricultural productivity and overall negative effects on important human development outcomes including food security, education and women’s’ well-being within the home. The develoPPP.de Strategic Alliance (STA) “Farmers as Entrepreneurs” has developed the participatory training approach “Smart Farming: Think of Farming as a Business”. As of March 2020, about 20,000 farmers were trained.
Gender – a quality feature of our work
“Smart Farming” has put gender equality and joint family decision-making at the heart of its approach. Using comics, the training materials tell the story of a “model household”, featuring a farmer and his wife. Tailored to two value chains and routine household chores the trainees follow the lives of Judith and Henry, who are a happy couple producing banana, and Musoke and Rose, a successful coffee-farming couple. A variety of topics on good agricultural practices and financial management are covered throughout the training, showing the couples having to decide on different issues concerning their farming enterprise. The couples are presented as a unit, making decisions jointly, as equals. In agronomy, emphasis is put on the importance of sharing the labor in the field and the household and joint decision-making when it comes to the planning of farm investment and utilization of proceeds after harvest. In financial management, the key message is that the family should be viewed as a unit, in need of financial resources and decisions about allocation should be made in a consensual way.
Focus group discussions with coffee farmers revealed that fostering gender equality is perceived as one of the key strengths of “Smart Farming”. The very positive reception of the “Smart Farming” training approach by implementing partners and farmers alike has inspired the adaptation of the story of Musoke and Rose, the coffee farming couple, for Ugandan local radio. Developed and implemented jointly with Farm Radio International, an NGO, private sector partners and foundations, 24 radio shows were aired to complement the trainings and to expand to wider audiences. Smart Farming has fundamentally strengthened the trust of the community in women as coffee farmers and increased the confidence of women as farmers and equal partners in decision making. Many farming households reported positive change and economic improvements. Private sector partners have picked up the approach and are continuing the trainings on the ground within and beyond the structures that have been established and used over the project’s lifetime.
Anna Karolina Lamik, firstname.lastname@example.org