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GENDER ISSUES IN FARMING SYSTEMS
RESEARCH AND EXTENSION
INCORPORATING WOMEN INTO MONITORING AND EVALUATIO
a oV ib
4 INCORPORATING WOMEN INTO MONITORING AND EVALUATION
4 SYSTEMS IN FARMING SYSTEMS RESEARCH AND EXTENSION. E
i PAPER PRESENTED AT A
4 CONFERENCE ON GENDER ISSUES IN FARMING ^
4 SYSTEMS RESEARCH AND EXTENSION L
a FEBRUARY 26 MARCH 1, 1986.
UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA g
SPrepared By: Jonice Louden,
Data Bank & Evaluation Divisizon,t~
Ministry of Agriculture,
Hope Gardens, ~
D atuary Bak vautiniiio,
Minisry o Agrcultre,
OVERVIEW OF FARMING SYSTEMS RESEARCH AND EXTENSION
Farming Systems Research and Extension (FSRE) aims at improving the effectiveness
of national research and extension services in generating and disseminating
technologies appropriate to farmers.
A farming systems may be broadly defined as 'the way in which a farm family
manages the resources it controls to meet its objectives within a particular
ecological, social and economic setting'.1
In this approach, researchers from various disciplines, sociology, economics,
anthropology and agronomy, collaborate with extension agents and farmers to
develop an understanding of how the farming system functions, to identify system
constraints and to plan and conduct experiments to generate technologies accept-
able to the farmers that will increase agricultural productivity.
During the past few decades, a number of programmes have been designed and
financed by national and international agencies, aimed at improving the
productivity of rural population. Among the strategies adopted were the 'Green
Revolution' Extension, Research and Development, Credit, Irrigation and Soil
Conservation. While these innovations made a useful contribution in technological
advance, a number of limitations have been detected.
1. The plant breeding break through of the 'Green Revolution' of the 1960's
which produced high-yielding grain varieties, tended to favour the more
2. Most of this research was concentrated largely on plantations and export
crops, thus little technical assistance was provided to the small farmer.
3. The strategy employed by Extension Services involved taking results
generated on research stations to the farmer. Implicit in this approach is
the assumption that farmers have inadequate knowledge about agriculture.
They must depend on information from professional groups. Farmers often
rejected advice based on what they perceived as book learning rather than
practical experience about farming.
Owing to the limited success of the extension approach, it was imperative that new
strategies be employed in order to improve agricultural production and to correct
the food deficit situation now very acute in most developing countries.
To deal effectively with the problem of increased agricultural production through
improved technology, the farming system approach was introduced during the 1970's.
Farming systems research and extension is an applied research approach and
involves the following characteristics:
1. Potential farming technologies are evaluated from the farmers point of view
taking into consideration their environment, objectives and priorities,
resource endowment and constraints and present management strategies.
2. The research must consider the farm system as a whole. When focussiong on
a single commodity or operation, they must consider how the phenomena under
study relates to other system components.
3. Research is location/farmer-group specific. Experiments are planned, taking
into account the circumstances and problems of specific roughly homogenous
group of farmers called recommendation domains.
4. The research team is interdisciplinary, including both social, biological
and physical scientists.- Team members work together on a commonly defined
5. Much of the experimentation is carried out on farmers fields in order to
develop technologies relevant to the farmers environment to facilitate
farmer participation and evaluation.
6. Farming systems research and extension crosses the research and extension
division. Extension staff play an active role in technology generation and
researchers participate in dissemination activities.
7. A Farming Systems Research and Extension Programme is consistent with
national policy guidelines and the long term interest of society.3
The promise of farming systems research is that small farmers can enjoy a
higher standard of living through increased agricultural production, provided
that appropriate technologies are designed with sensitivity to their needs.
Placed in its proper context, it is a second generation 'green revolution'.
The purpose of this paper is to address the topic of how to incorporate gender
issues into monitoring and evaluation systems within the Farming Systems Research
and Extension perspective.
Womens Issues and the Development Process
The issue of incorporating gended into farming systems research and extension
arises from the growing concern during the last two decades about the participa-
tion of women in the development process. Women have played a crucial role in
national food security, yet this role has largely been 'invisible' as agricultural
statistics do not adequately reflect their presence.
This lack of an adequate data relates to the fact that in conventional method-
ologies used because of an inadequate conceptualisation, the role of women is
Conceptually, the identification of the farm as the unit of observation is
problematic because it isolates crops and livestock decisions and activities
from other productive and social activities.
Operationally, it leads to gathering information from the farmer' typically
the man with social authority over the household.
Recognizing the need to utilise all resources in the development process,
concerns with the role and status of women an important human resource has
become a critical issue on the agenda of a number of agencies.
The incorporation of gender issues into the development agenda stems from the
recognition that women participate in agricultural development at various levels.
1. As farmers and producers of crops and livestock and users of
2. Marketing, processing and storage of food;
3. As agricultural labourers.
Assessment of Women's Participation in Rural Development
In order to assess the participation and status of women, two approaches to
policy oriented research evolved. The first, the equity oriented approach,
developed in the early stages of women' issues. The focus, is on the effect
of economic development programmes on the economic status of women suggesting
that they lose ground as the development process proceeds. Because of the lack
of an adequate data base, the hypothesis developed about the impact of develop-
ment on gender could not be empirically tested.
The second approach, the poverty-oriented approach, evolved out of the equity
approach. This links women issues with poverty and tries to quantify the
positive effects that may result from incorporating women's concerns into
economic development programmes. Women are perceived as participants in, rather
than beneficiaries of development programmes and restricting those being studies
to those in economic need.
This shift in emphasis from an equity oriented approach to a poverty oriented
approach, substantially changes research questions and methods. There is a
shift from description to analysis of women's conditions, from the definition
of women's economic problems to the quantitative documentation of their
existence, and from anthropological to sociological and economic methodologies.
The shift in sociological attention, offers a challenge to evaluation research
to be innovative in developing methodological and theoretical framework for
analysing social phenomena. For such empiricism, it is necessary to develop
specific definitions and concepts that will provide for a more rational data
collection and a more deductive-logic based on analytical capability.
Monitoring and evaluation systems involves social scientists in evaluative
research, and as such adds to the source of knowledge about existing social
problems. The problem of poverty among women is one of the recognized problems
within the social system. In order to offer solutions to some of these social
problems, it is not only necessary to evaluate the extent of the problem, but to
develop problem solving mechanisms. Farming system research and extension aims at
solving the problem of poverty among agricultural producers many of whom are
women by improving the way in which they manage their resources.
Women and the Growth of Scientific Knowledge
Incorporating women into monitoring and evaluation systems .call into question
our methods of creating scientific knowledge and the assumptions on which
modern science has developed as well as the product of that knowledge. Including
women, requires a reorientation or paradigm shift, expanding the field of enquiry
to the analysis of women' issues within existing methodologies, sociological and
economic, brings into the foreground two relevant issues. (1) How does
selecting out 'gender' as a variable for research affect scientific objectivity?
(2) How does one analyse individual orientations within a;Holisticfarming systems
In dealing with the question of women, it has been observed by other social
scientist among these sociologists and anthropologists, that the issue of gender
is part of a pervasive and fundamental dualism, a tendency to create frameworks
for viewing the world in terms of bimodal categories with attendant explanations.
This dualism is rooted in conventional scientific method since Plato.5
Evaluative research like other branches of the social science, present a number
of difficulties both from the methodological and practical standpoint.
Integrating women into monitoring and evaluation systems, may require 'selecting
out' women for special attention. This presents a degree of bias particularly
within a farming systems perspective.
Women in Agriculture Some Evidence from Jamaica
It has been documented that little is known about women's role in agricultural
production and therefore women are invisible to the development process.. This
argument cannot be wholly applied to Jamaica. Indeed, women have a long history
of involvement in work away from home, particularly in agriculture. During the
pre-emancipation period, women worked side by side with men. More recent statistics
on women in agriculture are drawn from special studies carried out in specific
localities. While the data base is not large enough to make generalisation, the
findings should serve to throw light on women's role in the farming systems and
food production in Jamaica.
A survey of higglers in 1977 estimated that women traders handle approximately
80% of the marketing of fruits, vegetables and staples in the island.
According to the survey, about 30% of post-harvest losses to women farmers are
caused by conditions associated with marketing.7
The results of a survey in the Central Region of Jamaica, estimates that women
farmers.manage about 22% of farm holdings. Even when they are not principle
operators, 47% of male spouses said that women assisted in farming operations,
while 21% reported collaboration in at least planting and harvesting.
Women are also involved in farm management and decision-making. Sixty five
percent (65%) of male respondents said they usually consulted their wives on
changing cropping patterns.
Women play an important role in food production, as small producers and as
agricultural labourers. The 1978 agricultural census shows that of the total
182,169 farms islandwide having single holders, 35,188 or 19% were operated by
women, but the land owned represented only 12% of the total. Women are less
likely to own land in their own right, and those who have land are likely to
have smaller holdings than men. Consequently, they are less likely to have
to credit and extension workers.
Although agricultural statistics and agro-socio-economic data on farmers involved
in banana production are abundant, little of this information is disaggregated by
sex. The data presented here is drawn from the limited studies available from
selected areas of the country in an attempt to highlight the socio-economic
situation of women involved in banana production. In an Agro-socio-economic survey
in six (6) parishes, 6,269 farmers were interviewed, of these 45% were women.0
An exploratory study of a banana plantation revealed that women constituted 52%
of employees. All labouring activities were carried out by women who were
employed as farm hands. Their duties included, planting, fertilizer application
and weeding, as well as caring for benches, pruning, sleeping, demanding etc.
Women were also involved in the boxing plant, in fact, they made up 75% of workers
involved in this activity.11
TOWARD A MONITORING AND EVALUATION SYSTEM FOR INCORPORATING WOMEN INTO FARMING
SYSTEMS RESEARCH AND EXTENSION.
Monitoring and Evaluation has come to be accepted as an essential feature of
the process of planning, organising and maintaining rural development projects.
The two components are necessarily interrelated and forms the basis on which
ongoing ploicy decisions are taken to improve and/or modify the project or part
of it to suit new conditions or requirements. In relation to agriculture,
monitoring focuses on the operation, performance and impact of agricultural
projects. A monitoring system is an information system for management decision-
As an applied science, evaluation research can be defined as 'the application
of scientific principles, methods, and theories to identify, describe,
conceptualize and measure, predict, change or control those factors or variables
important to the development of effective human service delivery systems'.15
The following critical steps are involved in completing evaluation studies:-
conceptualizing the problem
reviewing relevant literature
developing a research strategy
determining a research design
selecting and maintaining a sample
choosing measures and assessing their socio-metric
maintaining data collection standards
analysing the data
communicating the results
In order to be effective and useful, evaluation like other research must satisfy
the following criteria:-
1. Validity it should provide evidence to the problem the
evaluator wants to solve.
2. Reliability the sample should be large enough and sufficiently
representative to enable conclusions about the total population.
3. Objectivity the instruments and devices should be free from
personal prejudice or bias;
4. Practicability the instruments and procedures should be
easy to use and readily understood by resypndents and easy
to be tabulated, summarised and reported.
Evaluation therefore, connotes, measurement, appraisal or assessment of progress
made in any project. It is a process of analysis which turns the 'search light'
on the relative merits and deficiencies of persons, groups, programmes, situations,
methods and processes' with a view to improving the operational deficiencies of the
undertaking and determining how far it has progressed and how much farther, and in
what ways it should be carried out.17
Academic and Practical Difficulties in Evaluation Research
Monitoring and evaluation systems do distinguish between men and women, but there
is no indepth analysis as to their unequal access to resources, women as primary
producers and users of potential users of technology.
The fundamental problem seem to be (a) models or unit of analysis (b) methods
of data collection used.
Buvinic 1983, identifies three problems associated with using the households as a
unit of analysis. The first problem derives from assuming that the physical
boundaries defines the unit of social and economic organization. Individuals
sharing a roof often do not constitute families however, this is particularly the
case among female headed households.
The second problem arises from the economic principle that defines the household
as the basic decision-making unit behaving according to the rule of maximization
of household utility. This assumption does not allow for recognition of the
different preference schedules of individual members and masks any sex or age
discrimination in the household allocation of production and consumption.
The third problem derives from the implicit assumption based on the model of
the industrialized world, that only non-market production and consumption taking
place within the household are in the woman's hands. Therefore, when market
consumption and production are investigated, farms and firms rather than house-
holds are chosen as units of analysis and the household (woman's) contribution
to market (farm) production is ignored.
Few studies recognize the interdependence of production and consumption activities
in most farm households. The failure to see this interdependence can confound
analysis of the effect of development programmes that are dependent on farm/
households behaviour and decision-making.
(b) A more fundamental issue is that conventional methods used in collecting
information on rural producers particular in developing countries tend to
under estimate their actual participation. The characteristics of the small
farmers and their farming systems presents serious problems in data collection.
The major problem arises from the fact that small farmers and research workers
tend to differ in their definitions and processes of thought. For example, small
farmer communities tend to make only limited use of established official measures,
weight, volume, distance, area and time. Conceptual problems are often encountered
in relation to rights of ownerships and control of land, crops and livestocks and
their products. Customary patterns are not only complicated but also varied.19
Because in most countries up to now, the man was perceived as 'boss' the head of
the household, it is not surprising that the predominantly male interviewer have
tended to record the male as head without hesitation or investigation.
SOCIO ECONOMIC INDICATORS FOR MONITORING AND EVALUATION SYSTEMS
With the exception of total fertility rate, and mean age at marriage, indicators
which carry significance in the case of women, there are no other indicators which
can be considered relevant only for women. For the most part, it is possible to
assess the roles of women and to monitor and evaluate the impact of rural
development on the role of women only with the corresponding roles of men. Hence
in most cases the same indicators apply to men and all that is needed disaggre-
gation by sex when the data are collected for individuals and disaggregation
by sex and type of head of household when data are collected for household. 'A
household is defined as one or more persons/voluntarily living together and
sharing at least one mean in general, father, mother, children and other relatives
as well as other persons sharing their household arrangements'.20
A monitoring and evaluation system with a farming systems perspective should
learn the following:-
A. How are the resources of the households utilised, land, capital, labour.
What crops are grown
How these crops are grown
Why these crops are grown.
B. What activities each member of the household perform in crop production.
(a) Land preparation
Decision-making who makes decisions
about what to produce
selection of planting material
employment of farm labour
use of technology
Decisions about use of technology
What are the constraints to the adoption of available
Are women farmers due to low income unable to use available
technology, fertilizer, pesticides, insectides, farm
machinery and implements.
How does the size of farm/inadequate collateral affect access
How does the location of farm affect the use of technology.
E. Livestock Rearing Who cares for livestock
How does this interact with the cropping system
What are the constraints to introducing livestock
into the cropping system
Constraints land size, time, finance, insufficient
F. Farm Management knowledge about crop/livestock, crop care and record
Community Influences individual variables. Participation in Community
Organizations. How does this influence their activities.
G. Sociological characteristics of the farmer age, sex, educational attainment
The amount and type of agricultural work performed on farm and
off-farm by each member of the household.
The level of knowledge about agricultural technologies.
Access to services such as extension, credit and training.
H. Structural variables
Social organization of household
Land tenure Fragmentation
Labour resource organization
Employment of labour
Wages paid for agricultural labour
While micro level data on women situation might be useful, there are not only
the conceptual and methodological problems involved in generating micro level
evaluation, consideration must be given to the feasibility of this approach
particularly in developing countries where men and women experience similar
We argue therefore, that we need to develop monitoring and evaluation systems
that record information on men and women activities and benefits and compare and
contrast them, identify differential benefits to women, their access to
resources, land, capital, labour and technology and the constraints faced by
It is also apparent that there is need to generate country by country statistics
as evidence from one country in Latin America cannot be used to make generalisa-
tion about another.
The conceptualization and measurement of key indicators with policy implications
such as the activity rates of men and women in the agricultural sector must be
appropriate and comprehensive so as lead to the valid and complete enumeration
of all men and women active in agriculture.
Our research instruments should be designed to generate valid data and a correct
analysis of a given situation, always placing production in its broad micro and
macro economic and social context. While there is a tendency for female
scientists to recommend 'women oriented research' the long run aim of any programme
is to promote sustained agricultural development with benefits to all regardless
of gender or social status.
What is required therefore, is that the evaluator develop indicators that measure
accurately the status of men and women and to make recommendations that will benefit
both as participants in national development. These mechanisms should serve not to
further sexual dualism in the market places. Rather it should serve to reduce
inequalities in these conditions and create new opportunities.21
The author thanks John Campbell, Paulette Lewis, Faith Innerarity and
Dorian Powell for their constructive comments on an earlier draft of this
1. The farming systems approach incorporates many aspects of work done by
previous researchers in rural development. Johnson (1981) Caldwell (1983)
For a discussion of the evolution of FSR/E in the context of other Post
World II developments see Selected readings for Farming Systems Research
and Extension Methods. Edited by Peter E. Hildebrand.
2. W.F. Whyte. Participating Approaches to Agricultural Research and
Development: A state-of-the-art paper in Peter E. Hildebrand.
Selected Readings for Farming Systems Research and Development.
3. For a detailed outline of Farming Systems Research characteristics
see W.W. Shaner., P.F. Phillip; W.R. Scheme Farming Systems Research and
Development: Guidelines for Developing Countries; Westview Press.
Boulder Colorado, 1981.
See also Steve Franzel. Comparing Results of an informal survey: A
Case Study of Farming Systems Research and Extension (FSR/E) in
Middle Kirinyaga Kenya (1984).
CIMMYT Economic Staff: The Farming Systems Perspective in the Development
of Appropriate Technology in CK Eicher; J. Staatz Agricultural Development
in the Third World. The John Hopkins Press 1984.
4. Mayra Buvinic. Womens issues in Third World Poverty in Mayra Buvinic;
M.A. Lycette; and W.P. McGreevy. Women and Poverty in the Third World.
The John Hopkins Press (1983).
Louise Fortmann. The Plight of Invisible Farmer: The Effect of National
Agricultural Policy on Women in Africa; Women and Technological Change in
Development Countries. Edited. Roslyn Dauber; Melinda Cain.
A.A.A. Symposium .53, 1981.
5. Helen Weinrick Haste. Brother Sun, Sister Moon: Does rationality
overcome a dualistic world view? Paper presented at British Association
for the advancement of Science. Annual Meeting 26-30 August, 1985.
6. Lucille Mathurin. The Rebel Woman. African Caribbean Publications, 1975.
7. Smikle C., Taylor H., A Higgler Survey, Data Bank and Evaluation Division,
Ministry of Agriculture, 1977.
8. Planning a Women's Component Integrated Rural Development Project
Two Meetings and Pindars Watersheds, Jamaica. Office of Women in
Development. US/AID March, 1979.
9. 1978/1979 Agricultural Census. Department of Statistics, Jamaica.
10. An Agro-socio-economic Survey of Banana Farmers. Data Bank and Evaluation
Division, Ministry of Agriculture, 1982.
11. Jonice Louden. Women in Production and Utilization of Plantain and
Bananas. Paper presented at 3rd Conference of International Association
for Research on Plantain and Bananas: Abidjan, Ivory Coast.
May 28-June 1, 1985.
12. The participation of Women as Farm Managers due to male marginality (e.g
incapacity due to illness, migration and unemployment) is an area that
requires detailed study.
13. Preliminary Findings Baseline Survey, Jamaica Farming Systems Research
Project, June 1985.
14. Monitoring Systems for Agriculture and Rural Development Projects, Food
and Agriculture Organization, Rome 1983.
15. Elmer L. Struening; Marcia Guttentag. Handbook of Evaluation Research
Vol. 1 Sage Publications 1975.
16. B.L. Agrawal. Techniques for Evaluating Rural Development Programmes
The Indian Journal of Agricultural Economics Vol. XV No. 1, Jan. -
18. For a more detailed discussion see Myra Buviniv, M.A. Lycette,
M.P. McGreevy reference 4.
19. For a more detailed discussion of conceptual, methodological and practical
problems involved in data collection, the following work should be
D.T. Edwards; A.M. Morgan-Rees. The Agricultural Economist and Peasant
Farming in Tropical Conditions in International Explorations of Agricultural
Economics. Edited. Roger N. Dixey.
Sylvan Alleyne., Suzette Benn. Data Collection and Presentation in
Social Surveys. Institute of Social and Economic Research, University of
the West Indies, Jamaica 1979.
Adequacy of Indicators and Pilot Studies for low income and other
disadvantaged groups. Expert Consultation on Socio-economic Indicators
for Monitoring and Evaluation of Agrarian and Rural Development in Africa
F.A.O., Food and Agriculture Organization, April 1982.
20. For a more exhaustive discussion on women as heads of households in the
Caribbean see Women in World Perspective, UNESCO 1983.
21. Dorian Powell. Women in Agriculture in the Caribbean. Paper presented
at Conference on 'Womens Action for Progress Caribbean, Central America,
Miami, May 20-23, 1984.