Technology Assessment Toolkit

The “Assessing how Agricultural Technologies can change Gender Dynamics and Food Security Outcomes” toolkit describes an analytical process to understand the potential gender-related and nutritional impacts of specific agricultural technologies on men and women.

The methodology aids practitioners and researchers in assessing whether agricultural technologies they use or will use are gender-responsive and nutrition-sensitive in terms of design, use, and dissemination.

The INGENAES technology assessment can be used to improve the design and dissemination of agricultural technologies in ways that increase adoption by men and women farmers. Read more below the toolkit.

Part 1: LEARN

The LEARN section of the toolkit discusses the relationships between gender, nutrition, and agricultural technologies. It is divided into short thematic chapters that each describe one of three areas of inquiry: time and labor, food availability, access, safely, and quality, and income and assets.

Part 2: APPLY

The APPLY section of the toolkit introduces a gender analysis framework and a range of tools that can be used to enhance the design and dissemination of agricultural technologies.

Part 3: SHARE

The SHARE section of the toolkit is a facilitator’s guide for designing and conducting a workshop on the methodology. The facilitator’s guide is made up of slides and exercises that over the course of the pilot’s four (4) workshops we found to be most useful in sharing the methodology.

Cultural Practice, LLC (CP), a consortium partner of the INGENAES project, developed a methodology to assess whether agricultural technologies are gender-responsive and nutrition-sensitive in terms of design, use, and dissemination. The INGENAES technology assessment can be used to improve the design and dissemination of agricultural technologies in ways that increase adoption by men and women farmers. Piloted between 2015 and 2017 in Bangladesh, Zambia, Nepal, and Sierra Leone, the methodology consisted of two components:

  1. Design and delivery of training materials and
  2. Production of technology profiles.

Four workshops were delivered with practitioners and US and university students (graduate and undergraduate) in each country to test the methodology. The workshops also offered insights into the framing and content of this toolkit.

During the pilot phase, 11 technology profiles were produced either in conjunction with the workshop or as a separate activity, describing the gender dimensions of different technologies from beehives and digital fat testers to mini-tillers and treadle pumps, as well as integrated farming practices related to fish ponds and gardening. The profiles are one of the analytical outputs of the methodology.

This toolkit consists of a guide in three parts: Learn, Apply, and Share. It offers readers an understanding of the relationships between gender, nutrition, and agricultural technologies and how to address these issues systematically.

Background

Agricultural research and extension and advisory services are key mechanisms to help farmers access the innovations they need to be more productive and strengthen the nutritional value of foods, often helping to reduce the time and labor needed to carry out processing tasks, and ensuring farmers benefit from their work. Innovations in science and technology are the foundation of increased agricultural productivity, strengthened food security, and opportunities for enhancing nutrition.

Technology offers the possibility of greater control of the environment and use of natural resources; it can improve the timing of tasks, reduce drudgery, make labor more efficient, and improve the quality and quantity of food, feed, fiber, and fuel. Yet technological progress has both winners and losers: adoption faces challenges and there remains a critical need for continued innovation in the face of climate change, demographic shifts, instability, and conflict.

Equally if not more challenging are the constraints to research, adoption, and scaling of technologies related to gender issues. To ensure that investments and research pay off, technology developers and the actors with whom they work in design and dissemination can do more to ensure that new technologies will benefit both men and women farmers, addressing not only general but also gender-based constraints.

Awareness that technology is not designed in a vacuum but reflects and responds to policies, institutions, and social values is increasing, especially in technological fields such as personal electronics, but is not yet a mainstream perspective in agriculture. Too often, research and/or AES do not differentiate between different types of farmers and their respective needs, including differences between men and women farmers that might limit the benefits that each group might receive, including higher productivity, reduced labor, and increased access to income and improved nutrition.

Who should use this toolkit

If you are reading this guide, we expect that you are an agricultural researcher or practitioner interested in learning how to address gender and nutrition issues in your work. You may work at a national or international agricultural research center, a private firm, a university, or a civil society organization. Academics (students and faculty) may also find the guide helpful in illustrating the application of gender analysis to a concrete problem. We expect that as a reader you are interested in learning how to enhance the value of agricultural technologies for men and women, contributing to higher incomes and healthier households.

The toolkit was developed for readers with a basic understanding of gender and nutrition issues. Where possible, the guide also highlights resources to help you deepen your understanding of different issues.