#EachforEqual: Promoting Gender Inclusivity for Dairy Farmers in Tanzania

March 8, 2020

woman petting a cow

By Neema Mrema

Neema Mrema is the Project Manager Lead for the AgResults Tanzania Dairy Productivity Challenge Project.

As we celebrate International Women’s Day, we must engage both men and women to jointly make decisions and commit to making the world a better place to live. This year’s theme, ‘Each for Equal,’ shows us that it is every person’s responsibility to work toward equality without discrimination by enhancing opportunities for growth.

This is especially true in development programming, where opportunities for men and women may vary dramatically due to different needs and constraints. I serve as Project Manager for the AgResults Tanzania Dairy Productivity Challenge Project, which engages dairy input suppliers in the country’s coastal areas to provide high-quality input bundles to smallholder dairy farmers so they can improve productivity and raise incomes. Gender norms currently constrain women’s ability to make decisions and take control of high-value activities in the dairy value chain, but AgResults’ unique approach using Pay-for-Results prize competitions has the potential to reduce these barriers while encouraging participation among both men and women.

To ensure that the Tanzania competition promotes inclusivity, AgResults engaged a Farmer-to-Farmer gender specialist to identify current gender constraints in the dairy smallholder farm and input supply subsectors. From the findings, the specialist provided specific recommendations on how input suppliers can conduct outreach to better reach women and involve them in the competition. These input businesses are uniquely positioned as catalysts to transform women’s role in the dairy sector by building a more inclusive environment for women to access advisory services while also providing technical assistance support to educate smallholder dairy farmers.

Make Advisory Services More Accessible to Engage Women

The gender analysis indicated that in urban and peri-urban areas of Tanzania, dairy businesses are family-owned, while in rural settings, men own the business. But there is a stark division of labor: Women are overwhelmingly the ones involved in livestock management — from daily feeding and milking to hygiene and early detection of diseases and conception. In contrast, only men are involved during collection of milks sales proceeds, negotiation on input purchase in case of credit schemes, seminars and training, and negotiation of milk price. If input suppliers increase women’s access to high-quality inputs and advisory services, women can more easily participate in higher-value work and gain a louder voice in the process.

When veterinary and other advisory services are located nearer to the farm, women are more likely to be involved in procuring inputs. Bringing these services closer to women can increase the likelihood of input businesses engaging them. Businesses should also consider women’s workloads, schedules, and domestic duties when planning how to deliver trainings. In this way, input businesses can more equitably facilitate women’s participation alongside men to buy inputs, receive advisory support, sell milk products, and make production decisions.

Increase Farmers’ Knowledge for Long-Term Adoption

The gender analysis also revealed potential hurdles to the competition’s promotion of quality inputs: Use of inputs may increase women’s on-farm workload, at least in the short-term as they begin to incorporate new practices into their approach. If a higher use of inputs translates to more work, women may not see the incentive to engage since the workload could outweigh any extra income generated. Therefore, it is critical for the project to find ways to still motivate women and persuade them to recognize the value of continued input use.

As catalysts for change, input suppliers can see this as an opportunity to instill a holistic ‘business mindset’ to dairy farmers – both men and women – so that they approach farming as a formal business. Improving knowledge of feeding practices, management practices, and good animal husbandry (care, vitamins, vaccines, water, and importance of a clean shed) will improve profitability while providing key technical support.

With its design, the AgResults Tanzania project has the potential to promote behaviors that will empower women, and we will continue to gather important lessons about gender equality as the project progresses. The IWD theme ‘Each for Equal’ reminds us that to ensure equal participation and sustainable engagement of women in Tanzania and elsewhere, we must first build an environment that enables women to access equal benefits. It is the responsibility of everyone, including myself, to take part to collectively achieve equality.

The AgResults Tanzania Dairy Productivity Challenge Project, managed by Land O’Lakes Venture37, is part of AgResults, a $145 million collaborative initiative between the governments of Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom, the United States, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and the World Bank Group. AgResults uses prize competitions to incentivize the private sector to overcome market barriers and create lasting change. Under AgResults’ Pay-for-Results model, these competitions encourage actors to achieve predetermined results thresholds and quality for monetary prizes.

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