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Can Market-Based Approaches to Technology Development and Dissemination Benefit Women Smallholder Farmers? A Qualitative Assessment of Gender Dynamics in the Ownership, Purchase, and use of Irrigation Pumps in Kenya and Tanzania

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Rural household economies dependent on rainfed agriculture are increasingly turning to irrigation technology solutions to reduce the effects of weather variability and guard against inconsistent and low crop output. Organisations are increasingly using market-based approaches to disseminate technologies to smallholder farmers; and, although women are among their targeted group, little is known of the extent to which these approaches are reaching and benefiting women. There is also little evidence on the implications of women’s use and control of irrigation technologies for outcomes, including crop choice and income management.

This paper reports findings from a qualitative study undertaken in Tanzania and Kenya to examine women’s access to and ownership of KickStart pumps, and the implications for their ability to make major decisions on crop choices and use of income from irrigated crops. Results from sales-monitoring data show that women purchase less than10% of the pumps, and men continue to make most of the major decisions on crop choices and income use.

These findings vary by type of crop, with men making major decisions on high-income crops such as tomatoes, and women having relatively more autonomy concerning crops, such as leafy vegetables. The study concludes that market-based approaches on their own cannot guarantee access to, and ownership of, technologies. Businesses need to take specific measures toward the goal of reaching and benefiting women.

[adapted from source]

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