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Promoting Gender Equity through Farmer Field Schools

Posted: March 8, 2018

The USAID funded Women in Agriculture Network (WAgN): Honduras project is currently working with an indigenous women's non-government organization in western Honduras to promote gender equity. Implemented by Zamorano University (Honduras) and a team of Penn State faculty, the gender-integrated Farmer Field School provides a blend of horticulture technical skills and gender focused awareness.
Gabriela Hernandez presents nutritional and food security related information at the WAgN: Honduras Farmer Field School

Gabriela Hernandez presents nutritional and food security related information at the WAgN: Honduras Farmer Field School

The Women in Agriculture Network (WAgN): Honduras project, made up of a team of Zamorano researchers and Penn State faculty (Janelle Larson, PI) is well under way, with the gender-integrated Farmer Field School (FFS) in the county of Intibucá, located in western Honduras.  The FFS methodology traditionally includes informative sessions that cover agriculture topics and a practical application of the new content.  However, the FFS in this project include a more innovative aspect, the topic of gender, along with the agricultural-focused learning. Implemented by Zamorano researchers and project team members, Hazel Velasco Palacios and Alfredo Reyes Rocha, and an extensionist from the Horticulture Regional Center at Zamorano, Gabriela Hernandez Casco, the FFS is taking place with 60 participants over a period of four months in two different communities. 

The FFS focus specifically on the production of household farms (constructing a plot 10m x 10m) under a bio-intensive system that integrates organic production, low pressure irrigation, and the issues of food security and nutrition.  The topics of gender are discussed with the goal of reflection, imparting an understanding that both women and men should have their needs, interests, and opinions taken into account.  Considering that when men and women can have the same opportunities and available resources, the community overall will achieve a better quality of life.

The team is also conducting evaluations on the effectiveness of the FFS integrated curriculum and specifically, "Are the Farmer Field Schools effective in sharing gender themes?"  Three Zamorano undergraduate students are working to address this question through research projects for their theses.  Sheyla Ramos (agronomy) is working closely with the evaluation of the FFS; Juan José Rivas (ag business) is profiling the potato value chain actors in the region; and Victor Vargas (food science) is exploring nutritional characteristics of the local communities.  The students will then be traveling to Penn State to spend the rest of the spring semester working with project faculty and further developing their analysis.

For the original article in Spanish: https://www.zamorano.edu/2018/01/29/promoviendo-igualdad-derechos-medios-del-arte-cultivar-huertos-familiares/

The Women in Agriculture Network (WAgN): Honduras project is a five year project, supported by the USAID Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Collaborative Horticulture Research.