The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) defines Climate Smart Agriculture (CSA) as “agriculture that sustainably increases productivity, enhances resilience, reduces greenhouse gases and enhances achievement of national food security and development goals”.
Women farmers in many developing countries are particularly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change and lack the ability to adapt easily due to their limited access to resources such as land, capital and technology. As a result, they are less likely to be able to adopt CSA approaches that can reduce the negative impacts of climate change. Developing countries must prioritise investments in climate-smart agriculture to ensure that women farmers can access the resources they need to adapt to a changing climate.
A review was conducted by the CGIAR Gender Impact Platform of interventions to promote CSA approaches. The review aimed to determine the effectiveness of the interventions in increasing the adoption of CSA practices and decreasing the use of harmful agricultural practices by women farmers.
After systematic search and screening, eight impact evaluations (two randomised controlled trials and six quasi-experimental studies) were included. Overall, the evidence is concentrated in six countries: Bangladesh, China, Ghana, India, Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda.
Gender-responsive training increases women’s participation in climate smart agriculture
The findings from these studies suggest that gender-responsive training and education through Farmer Field Schools led to increased participation of women farmers. This involvement led to increased knowledge retention, improved decision-making and enhanced adoption of recommended CSA approaches. It was observed that when women farmers are actively involved in decision-making processes and have equal access to information and resources, they are more likely to adopt improved CSA approaches.
Knowledge dissemination targeting women makes a difference in climate smart agriculture adoption
Knowledge dissemination targeting women is important. The meta-analysis indicated that knowledge dissemination approaches have proven to be highly effective in enhancing farmers’ knowledge and adoption of specific CSA approaches, including integrated pest management techniques, stress-tolerant rice varieties and the use of botanical pesticides.
Women farmers who have participated in Farmer Field Schools or received support from agricultural extension services are more likely to adopt CSA approaches. These approaches, such as integrated pest management strategies, reduce their reliance on chemical pesticides and promote sustainable farming practices. They have also proven instrumental in advancing farmers’ adoption of climate-resilient rice varieties when they become aware of their benefits, such as resilience to climate change, protection of yields and reduced susceptibility to pests and diseases.
Integrating digital technologies and innovative approaches in knowledge dissemination can enhance the effectiveness of these approaches. Mobile applications and online platforms can help reach a wider audience. Remote sensing technologies can provide real-time information on climate conditions to help make decisions regarding the use of CSA practices.
These interventions successfully increased both women and men farmers’ knowledge and subsequent adoption of specific CSA practices. However, further research is needed to determine if certain approaches are more effective for women than men. Further research should be conducted with a larger sample size and designed to consider gender-specific factors.
The review did not find any studies on the influence of other types of interventions, such as financial incentives.
Implication for research and policy
- Targeted efforts to enhance women farmers’ knowledge of CSA practices are effective at increasing their adoption. This review emphasises the importance of developing gender-responsive training, information, education, and communication material and providing access to women farmers. Extension service providers need to be trained to perform this function as well. Practical and hands-on approaches like Farmer Field Schools are effective and should be preferred over classroom training.
- A poor evidence base due to a lack of available gender-disaggregated data and gender analysis forms a significant barrier to informing program design and investments.
- Further research focusing on the design of effective incentive systems and partnerships that promote CSA adoption is essential.
- There is a need to generate evidence on the long-term effects of adopting CSA approaches.
This piece was initially published on CGIAR Gender Impact Platform and has been revised to suit Farming First’s editorial guidelines.