Rwanda AgriculturE Board (RAB) and its stakeholders have committed to close gender gap in agriculture sector through expansion of innovation platforms.
Innovation platforms that seek to foster interaction among stakeholders around a shared interest with a focus of gender equality were initiated in 2006.
The commitment was made by Dr Patrick Karangwa, the head of Research Department at RAB, on Wednesday in Kigali, during a one-day workshop organised by the agency to share outcomes of a recent research about gender and equitable benefits sharing through the agricultural innovation platforms.
The study was conducted from December last year through March, 2016.
The workshop brought together researchers from RAB, farmers under the innovation platforms and other agriculture stakeholders.
The researchers noted an increase of farming production and harmonisation of gender equality.
Dr Karangwa said there is a need to expand innovation platforms to boost efforts towards transforming agriculture.
“Innovation platforms are obviously fruitful. They are in line with government policies. We have to expand them because they are impactful. These findings should prompt new measures. More training and sensitisation are needed to help farmers understand the vision of the sector. There is a need for closer partnership between stakeholders and farmers,” Karangwa said.
Leonidas Dusengemungu, a researcher at RAB on farmers’ social affairs, said during visits to some platforms (there are 20 of them) they noted teamwork between women and men.
“Platforms bring together individual women and men farmers and other partners, including cooperatives, traders, transporters and researchers where they work together to address the problems at hand,” he said.
The study showed complementarity between men and women in activities related to farming.
Dusengemungu said that, in the past, such farming works like weeding were a reserve for women, but today men do the same activities because of a mindset change.
“Since we created these platforms, men and women engage in practically all the farming activities together, from sowing to harvesting. However, more sensitization on gender issues among farmers is required and people in these platforms are our ambassadors in this regard,” he added.
Mecthilde Nikwigize, from Terimbere Rugeshi platform in Burera District, said that since the establishment of the platforms their output had significantly increased.
“We are 68 members – 31 men and 37 women. We locate land and cultivate together as a team. Before the platforms, we would work separately and in a disorderly manner. Output was low and women worked alone without the involvement of their husbands.
“But things have since changed. Production has increased; we harvest five tonnes on one hectare up from one previously.”
Jean Damascene Twizerimana, from Kopadimu platform in Nyamagabe District, said, previously, farming activities seemed to be the responsibility of women, which limited production, adding that the platforms have contributed toward promotion of gender equality in farming activities.