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A Holistic Approach for Measuring Agricultural Productivity Towards Business Growth and Gender Inclusion

A Holistic Approach for Measuring Agricultural Productivity Towards Business Growth and Gender Inclusion

Value for Women in partnership with the Aspen Network of Development Entrepreneurs (ANDE) and the Walmart Foundation is piloting strategies for comprehensive business growth and gender inclusion with agriculture -focused Small and Growing Businesses (SGBs) in Mexico.

Why are we doing this?

An assessment of 14 businesses on their approach to managing productivity issues revealed an overarching challenge in meeting demands for quantity and quality of products for sale to buyers. These are in part exacerbated by:

– Lack of reliable data being generated and utilized to inform business decisions about productivity
– Lack of information on what prevents men and women farmers from achieving productivity potentials
– Lack of investment in extension services that respond to different needs of women and men producers

These business challenges, along with gender dynamics, hinder women’s participation and inclusion within agriculture SGB´s. These challenges compound others that women face, including restrictive cultural norms as well as lack of access to land, technical and business skill training, finance, inputs, and other resources and services required for farming and supply. These result in:

– More men supplying, producing and selling raw materials at a higher value compared to women – despite that several SGBs perceive women to be more productive in certain crops
– Perception by SGBs that they cannot find women suppliers, or that they cannot overcome the barriers that women suppliers face

What are we doing?

Based on these early insights, Value for Women is working with businesses to develop an accessible tool that SGBs can use to manage and increase productivity. The tool includes questionnaires and guides to gather and analyze both technical and financial information, as well as information to understand what supports or hinders men and women´s productivity in their value chains, such as the level of access to resources and the activities of men and women within the production processes.

The aim of this set of tools is to provide SGBs with data that can help them make strategic decisions in order to obtain the quantity and quality of the products they require to respond to increasing market demands. By managing their productivity, SGBs have the opportunity to improve levels of inclusion by gradually increasing the number of direct women suppliers of raw materials and producers, as well as support services provided to them.

Potential for results on greater inclusion of female producers

More and more businesses are driven by a growing demand for healthy, nutritious products produced by local men and/or women farmers or farmer groups, and consumer demand is driving inclusive and transparent value chains. To respond to this demand, businesses can:

1. Design marketing strategies and products that respond to these market drivers, and to what female and male consumers want.
2. “Collect” data on the existing levels of productivity and analyze what is required to improve it;, taking into consideration the different needs of men and women producers.
3. Identify specific roles women and men play in production, as well as the barriers they face to maximizing their productivity.
4. Identify solutions to these barriers, and do a cost-benefit analysis of the solutions
5.Use data to make informed decisions about producers, suppliers and for traceability of women and men farmer participation in the value chain.

The work conducted to date has found that the agribusinesses best positioned to impact gender inclusion at the producer level generally have the following characteristics:

– Their operations span different areas of the value chain, from production to distribution.
– They maintain a close relationship with producers who are either associates or members, and provide support services to them. This allows for better and more efficient and effective data gathering.
– They are interested in reaching ethical consumers, buyers or investors.

Businesses that have these characteristics are in a strategic position to act as a bridge between markets and producers. Our efforts and studies to date, together with a set of agribusinesses and intermediaries, seek to determine the pathways for establishing simple systems for gathering data that can support inclusive business management with bottom-line benefits.

– Further insights from this work will be shared after December, 2018.
– For more information contact Cecilia Lazarte at Value for Women at clazarte@v4w.org

Other project publications:

Lazarte, C. How to make agriculture better for women. Initial findings from a program in Mexico. Available at:

https://medium.com/@AspenANDE/how-to-make-agriculture-better-for-women-6687d64da2b4
Value for Women. INFOGRAPHIC: GENDER INCLUSION WITHIN AGRICULTURE-BASED SGBs IN MEXICO

Value for Women
Value for Women