Gender responsiveness in Farmer Business Schools

Gender responsiveness in Farmer Business Schools

The Farmer Business Schools (FBS) is a participatory approach to provide technical assistance and support to smallholder farmers to improve their income and livelihood opportunities. In Asia, the approach has been adapted to ensure gender responsiveness, by including women, diagnosing their needs, and helping them to start group businesses. Experiences show that value chain development can contribute to gender equitable access to resources and benefits from innovations linked to roots, tubers and bananas.

In Bohol, in the Philippines, the FoodSTART+ project created six FBS groups, with more participation from women. It was the first time for many women to learn about business and they gained the confidence to start a new business activity independently.

In Meghalaya, India, FoodSTART+ established six FBSs with 110 women and 55 men. Men offered labor, experience and connections. Women contributed leadership skills to produce organic potatoes and organic cassava flour. One group of women began to sell cassava snacks in a local market.

In Assam, India, a baseline survey characterized opportunities for women and men in the potato value-chain. The study found that women’s participation in the potato value-chain is concentrated in post-harvest activities. In a future FBS, the project will take into account this gender norm and facilitate women’s participation in post-harvest activities such as storage development, processing and packaging.

Leading the family banana farm. Uganda. S. Fernandes (RTB)