Aiming to change the historically low representation of women in the chickpea and lentil value chains in Ethiopia, the Ethiopian Institute of Agricultural Research, along with ICRISAT* and ICARDA#, has devised strategies to encourage women to participate in the Chickpea Improvement Program at the Debre Zeit Agricultural Research Center (DZARC).
The two-pronged strategy is as follows:
- To organize women and youth into associations and provide them with skills and knowledge about chickpea seed and grain production
- To establish seed production clusters with the women and youth and link them with seed laboratories for certification
In Ada’a Woreda (Ethiopia’s largest chickpea-producing region), three Peasant Associations (PAs) were formed with 128 women (22 youth (<25 years of age) formed another PA). DZARC organized a training workshop for 95 women on the benefits of improved seeds, modern production practices, local and export market potential, technical support and more. Each participant was then given 30-35 kg of chickpea seeds as a revolving loan: each farmer would grow crops using the seeds along with help from District Bureaus of Agriculture and DZARC. Once harvested, they would share 30-35 kg of the harvested seed with other members of the PAs.
Subsequently, five women members per PA would be selected to conduct farmers’ participatory variety selection (FPVS) trials on their farms, which would act as learning centers for other women evaluating and selecting varieties, based on their criteria and preferences for further testing on their own farms. The selected fields would be used to assess and monitor the women’s performance compared to plots owned by men in the same area as part of gender yield gap studies.
Finally, the PA groups would be connected to seed quality laboratories for inspection and certification, so that the seeds could be marketed as certified seed.
The ultimate goal is to empower women and youth to specialize in seed production, value addition and marketing of chickpeas. Data obtained by monitoring the gender indicators – knowledge, land and labor access, decision making, access to markets and benefits sharing – could be used to design more effective interventions.
*ICRISAT, through the Tropical Legumes III project supports the chickpea breeding and seed dissemination activities
#The International Centre for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas is supporting a community seed production initiative