Using Participatory Tools in Setting
Gender-Sensitive Criteria for
Acceptable Rice Varieties in
Sustaining household food (rice security) is the main goal of poor farming households in rainfed lowland rice environments in Eastern India. To these people, this goal is difficult to achieve due to the biophysical and socio-economic factors constraining rice yields. Despite the long-term efforts through rice breeding research, some farmers in Eastern India have resisted their adoption and still continue to grow traditional rice varieties. This may be due to the farmers’ lack of accessibility to new seeds or the lack of suitable rice varieties that are better than what are being currently grown. There has been a lack of understanding of the farmers’ selection criteria, their environments and gender roles in rice production and processing.
Even with women’s active involvement in rice production, postharvest and seed management, scientists who are mostly male often talk with the male farmers only. Ignoring women’s knowledge and preference for rice varieties may be an obstacle to adoption of improved varieties, particularly in areas with genderspecific tasks, and in farm activities where women have considerable influence.
A released variety in India such as
Pant-4 is high yielding but it is rejected
by women farmers because it is
difficult to thresh by hand. In contrast,
traditional varieties that have low
yields are still grown because of their
desirable taste and their eating and
cooking qualities that make them
well-suited for rice products that
This paper discusses the methods used in integrating a gender dimension in participatory varietal selection and lessons learned.