Gender-Responsive Breeding

Traditionally, breeding programs have developed varieties suitable for specific agro-ecological conditions. This has been embellished with taking into consideration the crop management regimes. However, it has been recognized that we need to not just breed for places, but for people who will be using those varieties.

Demand-led breeding is important to ensure that the products developed are consistent with the demands, needs, and preferences of farmers, consumers and processors. Higher relevance is expected to lead to higher adoption, and consequently wider impact.

Understanding gender-differentiated trait preferences of various actors is critical to inform demand-led breeding priorities and investment decisions. The sets of traits that different socio-economic groups/customer segments, spanning producers, consumers, millers, traders and other value chain actors, desire in the rice varieties they grow and consume could be different (and different between women and men) within these groups. The aim is not to develop separate varieties for men and women, but to invest in developing varieties that include preferred traits of both women and men. We cannot breed for the large number of diverse traits that women and men prefer, but we can ensure the ‘must have’ traits for both are included. We also need to ensure that the not-so desirable traits which might affect women and men negatively are managed (e.g., requiring high labour or costs, etc).