Accelerating adoption of climate-smart agriculture: Reaching women farmers in Uganda with video extension
Women play a vital role in agricultural production in low-income countries, but often lack the information needed to improve their agricultural practices. A recent dissemination event in Uganda highlighted the potential of targeted video-based extension to boost women’s adoption of key climate-smart technologies.
In Uganda, women carry out most agricultural activities, but agricultural information continues to be directed toward household heads, typically men. This creates a gender gap in information that could hobble the efforts of the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries (MAAIF) to transform smallholder farmers from subsistence to commercial farmers. The “Reaching Smallholder Women with Information Services and Resilience Strategies to Respond to Climate Change” project was piloted to bridge this gap. The project findings were presented to stakeholders in Kampala last month.
Participants in the event stressed that women farmers play a crucial role in agriculture and in global efforts to build sustainable, climate-resilient food systems. In her opening remarks, Claudia Ringler, Deputy Director of the Environment and Production Technology Division at the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) and project lead, highlighted that “Women farmers account for 46 percent of all agricultural work in Africa, and even more so in Uganda, where they account for up to 70 percent of all agriculture activities.”
The pilot project aimed to accelerate women’s use of climate-smart agriculture (CSA) practices by directly reaching 40,000 smallholder women farmers in Uganda, Kenya, and India (Gujarat state) using innovative video-based extension services to reduce the gender information gap. These videos feature women farmers implementing climate adaptation strategies. Importantly, participants select the CSA practices they wanted to demonstrate in the videos themselves. In Uganda, these included climate-smart poultry management, climate-smart pig management, improved soil and water management, and integrated pest management. The extension videos were rolled out through the public agricultural extension system that put extra emphasis on ensuring that they reached the intended beneficiaries—women farmers.
“Utilization of such women-centered dissemination approaches have a pull factor to facilitate uptake of CSA practices by women farmers after watching fellow women farmers demonstrate the practices they implement on their own farms,” said Dr. Angella Namyenya, Directorate of Agricultural Extension, MAAIF.
Reflecting on the implementation of agriculture extension programs in Uganda, the Hon. Fred Bwino Kyakulaga, Minister of State for Agriculture, said, “Currently, one government extension worker serves 1,800 farmers, which is overwhelming. The use of training videos will supplement the efforts of the extension agents and improve their service delivery.”
According to Dr. Patience Rwamigisa, Assistant Commissioner at the Department of Agricultural Extension and Skills Management, “There is mounting evidence that adopting videos as an agricultural extension tool can improve technology adoption among farmers and has the potential to reduce gender bias when it comes to dissemination of climate resilience knowledge.”
A before-and-after comparison provides strong evidence that the project’s approach works. A baseline survey conducted in six districts (Rakai, Kiboga, Bukomansimbi, Mubende, Nakasongola, and Kalungu) before the rollout of the training videos showed that lack of information was one of the major obstacles to farmer uptake of climate-smart technologies, along with lack of funds. Data showed that the information barrier was higher among women (64%) than men (60%); and of the 20 CSA practices included in the data collection, women were more aware than men of only one practice.
After watching the extension videos featuring women farmers, women’s uptake of CSA practices increased significantly. Within the project implementation area, women’s adoption rose to the same level, or even slightly higher, than adoption by men. For example, women who saw the videos increased their adoption of soil bunds, water harvesting techniques, livestock manure management, and improved pasture management. Edward Kato, Senior Research Analyst with IFPRI, stressed that “Adoption was driven more by deepening knowledge about the practices than by mere awareness.”
While videos can significantly reduce knowledge gaps between men and women, observed Kato in closing remarks, even larger impacts can be achieved if women are well-mobilized to attend community video viewings. “We know that digital extension approaches have lots of promise but access to these tools remains too limited for women farmers for us to assume that digitals can go where traditional extension services could not. More work needs to be done to extend reach,” summarized Ringler.
Moses Lule is an independent consultant based in Uganda.