Introducing the Local Agricultural Potential Index: An approach to understand local agricultural extension impact for farmer adaptive capacity and gender equity

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Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs (CC BY-NC-ND)
journal article
World Development Perspectives
Witinok-Huber R.
Radil S.M.

Despite significant work to enhance women’s empowerment in agriculture, women remain marginalized across the globe. This includes gender gaps in agricultural extension and advisory service implementation that can lead to inequitable resource and knowledge access by farmers, specifically women. However, gender does not exist in isolation, it is place and time specific. This study investigated the impact of gender and geography on smallholder farmer access to and agency over resources/knowledge. The overarching question we explored was the role that extension providers might play in building farmer adaptive capacity and gender equity. To do so, a mixed-methods approach was used to develop a new multidimensional index from participant responses to 352 surveys and 44 focus groups. The index has four domains that represent farmer’s access to resources, leadership opportunities, household power, and time allocation; it is called the Local Agricultural Potential Index or L-API. The index was applied to a case study setting in rural Liberia due to its designation as a USAID-Feed the future country, and national investment in gender equality and poverty alleviation through agricultural development. Statistical and spatial analysis results indicate that women in Liberia, on average, have lower access to information and communication technology, leadership opportunities, and credit; as well, when compared to their male counter parts, less agency to make decisions at home and in the community. Further, a surprising spatial finding was that rurality did not have a diminishing impact on access. We concluded that the L-API is one example of a process and the resulting tool, informed by locally relevant indicators, to help improve farmer access to and agency over extension services. The L-API is meant to provide a baseline tool to be tailored in different locations based on local needs and can be used as a measure for adaptive capacity.

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Adaptive capacity
extension and advisory services
Multidimensional index Place