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Monday, 8 June 2015

Promoting social inclusion of gender and youth in Maize value chain

By Bob Aston
Promoting social inclusion along the maize value chain will ensure women, men and youths benefit equally from agri-business along the value chain. Speaking during a two days’ workshop organized by the Agricultural Sector Development Support Programme (ASDSP)-Laikipia, on June 5-6, 2015 at Olympia Hotel in Nyahururu, Laikipia County, Leah Njeri, SNV-Netherlands Development Organization Senior Governance Advisor, Procurement Governance in Home Grown School Feeding (HGSF) noted that women, men and youths will be able to have equal access to resources and opportunities in the value chain.
The workshop was attended by 43 maize value chain groups as well as SNV and Arid Lands Information Network (ALIN). ASDSP seeks to promote gender and youth inclusion along the maize value chain through input supplies, production, bulking and transportation, storage and marketing.
A woman selling cereals

“We need to acknowledge socially constructed roles and responsibilities assigned to women and men in a given culture or location. We also need to assess implications for women, men and youth of any planned actions and incorporate this in the value chain,” said Leah.
She noted that assessing social inclusion along the maize value chain entails recognizing that gender and other differences are socially constructed and may affect participation of men, women and youths unequally in the value chain.
“It is important to identify barriers to men, women and youth participation like community beliefs, economic status, infrastructure, attitudes and policy barriers. This will require developing strategies to promote more gender-equitable and inclusive practices along the value chain,” said Leah.
She noted that the current women participation in the value chain indicates that they are bulk producers, they are usually appointed as treasurers in groups because they are easier to manipulate and they are less prone to corruption. They are also rarely elected as group chairpersons.
Meanwhile, youths are missing in the value chain due to low returns from farming, they do not own land, the Country’s formal education is oriented towards white collar job, fear of traditional farming methods which are labour intensive and financial constraints and lack of collateral to access financing.
Two women and a youth weeding
“Inclusion of women in leadership and decision making positions particularly in production, input supplies and marketing can help improve the livelihood of women,” said Leah.
Constraints limiting effective women participation along the value chain include: women are engaged in domestic chores; women have to seek permission from their husbands; lack of confidence on their ability to hold leadership and strategic positions; low literacy and exposure compared to men; lack of land ownership; and financial constraints; and lack of collateral to access financing.
Strategic entry points for promoting women and youth participation include: farming using modern farming techniques and technology; commercialization and involvement of youths in transportation using motorbikes; use of ICT technologies especially in marketing; provision of extension services to farmers; inclusion of women and youths in leadership and decision making positions.
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