Social norms and the physical effort required to operate heavy farm machinery can exclude women from agriculture and related business opportunities.
Through mechanization solutions, CIMMYT is helping women to overcome these challenges and become successful entrepreneurs.
In Nepal, women head more and more farming households, as their partners and young men have left to work abroad. However, women are not always familiar with farming practices, especially heavy equipment. Through the Cereal Systems Initiative for South Asia (CSISA), CIMMYT introduced farmers in Nepal to the precision spreader, a hand-operated device that is easy and convenient to use for all. It also distributes fertilizer evenly, so farmers use the right amount and save money.
Starting two-wheel tractors can also pose a challenge for women entrepreneurs. Halima Begum, a farmer in Bangladesh’s Chuadanga district, wanted to provide mechanization services for other farmers in the area, to increase her income. However, cranking to start up the tractor required a lot of strength and she had to rely on others for help.
Now, using an electronic self-starter, she can start the tractor with the flick of a lever. This device reduces the risk of accidents and encourages women and youth to become entrepreneurs of agricultural mechanization services. CIMMYT, through the CSISA project, is manufacturing these self-starter attachments for two-wheel tractors in Bangladesh.
Similarly, in Zimbabwe, Agatha Dzvengwe and Marianne Jaji have become successful entrepreneurs as two-wheel tractor service providers. One of the key outcomes of the Farm Mechanization and Conservation Agriculture for Sustainable Intensification (FACASI) project, funded by the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR), is to increase awareness among women and youth of the business opportunities related to small-scale mechanization.
“We have been freed from the burden of toiling in the field. Now that I own a two-wheel tractor, the society respects me more,” Jaji said.
Partners and funders
Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR), Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), United States Agency for International Development (USAID).