Planners throughout Africa, Asia, and Latin America are increasingly called upon to engage in "bottom-up" participatory planning that will benefit women as well as men. In fact, however, participatory, gender-responsive agricultural planning is rarely practiced. Why? One important set of reasons revolves around the question of method. It's not clear just "how" to conduct participatory planning or how to change current planning procedures to make them more responsive to gender and other differences among farmers. But as the projects represented at this workshop amply demonstrate, progress is being made.
This paper reviews ten case studies written about FAO field projects that tested methods and tools for gender-sensitive participatory agricultural policy making and planning. The projects' shared goal was to facilitate gender-responsive agricultural planning. Three important challenges influenced how these agricultural development projects were implemented: (a) the lack of disaggregated information appropriate for gender and socio-economic difference responsive planning; (b) the inadequate mechanisms to link or scale up the priorities of women and men farmers to district and national planning processes; and (c) the lack of capacities, at all levels, to institutionalise participatory gender-responsive agricultural development planning. The projects developed and tested participatory methods to address these challenges.
This review focuses on project successes and difficulties in four areas: producing gender disaggregated information relevant to planning, training agricultural officers and field staff in participatory methods, linking farmer's priorities with policy-making and planning processes, and promoting institutional change.
The paper is addressed to workshop participants, agricultural planners and policy makers, and all who are interested in participatory, gender and socio-economic sensitive approaches to agricultural development. It has two objectives:
to facilitate workshop discussions in which we can learn from the best practices and the problems revealed in the project case studies, and
to promote a larger dialogue on how best to pursue the goal of increasing the responsiveness of agricultural planning to the priorities of different groups of women and men farmers.
The next section sets a framework for these discussions by briefly describing the major processes involved in agricultural planning and by indicating what we mean by "gender and difference-sensitive participatory agricultural planning".
The following section's comparative analysis of the projects is organised around the issues that each case study considered:
the policy environment,
the "entry point" or where the project entered the agricultural planning process,
the tools and methods used,
capacity building, especially training in gender and difference-sensitive participatory methods,
the gender information produced,
linkages with planning processes and related organisations, and
The paper concludes with a review of best practices.