In 2015, livestock scientists implementing Africa RISING research-in-development activities (R-in-D) introduced forage chopper machines in seven villages in Babati District, northern Tanzania. One year later, social scientists evaluated the gender implications of the new processing practices through focus group discussions with male and female respondents. Respondents were selected from among the farmers’ groups that were formed for the management and use of the chopper machines.
The evaluation interrogated the following issues:
- How was labour renegotiated and reorganized between male and female household members after the introduction of the machines?
- How did the introduction of the machine affect sharing of benefits resulting from the higher production?
- Who in the households and farmer groups had access to the machines and how was it justified?
Initial findings from this study (see poster below) indicate that the forage chopper machine reduces women’s labour burden and decreases the time needed for livestock feeding. However, women’s access and use of the forage choppers is influenced by various factors including membership and gender dynamics in farmers’ groups. Men tend to have greater access, which they, in part, justify by claiming ‘lower technical skills’ of women. On the other hand, the benefits from improved feeding through the sale of milk and eggs have allowed some women–as they said–to become financially more independent. The results of this study will not only inform the project’s future R-in-D work, but also feed into the ongoing gender and mechanization debate.
Written by Gundula Fischer, IITA