Gender in Value Chains

Agri-ProFocus Learning Network

Experience: Gender and value chain development in Ethiopia

As you all know gender and vcd is a challenge, even more so in Ethiopia, which performs worse on gender indicators than many other sub-saharan African countries. So in this respect some good news:

  • the cluster business plan competition held by the APF learning alliance awarded a pro-gender price to one of the 18 farmer marketing organizations, it concerned a business plan to further develop the incense and arabic gum value chain, which benefits a lot of women in the poor North of the country.
  • An other encouraging development is that many farmer marketing organizations start taking on more female members as one of their priorities (female membership has grown from average 16% tot 20% in one year, meaning about 400 more female members). Quite some have increased female membership of their boards as well over the past year.
  • A value chain and gender study is currently executed by a local consultant to assess how VCD can be made more pro-gender. The report is expected in May and will be shared with you.

Regards  Andre Vording  ICCO



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Replies to This Discussion

Hi Andre,

Your post is very interesting - I'm particularly interested in the farmer's marketing organizations you mention and the VC and gender study you referred to - can you please pass this along? I'm beginning to work on a project in Ethiopia in the rice and textile value chains and am looking for any material that can guide me in better understanding gender issues in both of those sub-sectors. Thanks!...Deepa
Hi Deepa

We´re not working on rice nor textile, still the gender study could be useful. But I am still waiting for the final version, the draft was not elaborate enough, so the consultant is now filling in the gaps. I´ll keep you informed.


Thanks Andre - I look forward to it...Deepa
Dear Andre,

I am also interested in receiving a copy of the study. Will you be posting it up on the website here?

I conducted a study for Sida on its programme in Amhara (SARDP) and related programmes, earlier in the year. This was not really a value chain study but looked more generally at the achievements and limitations of the programme with respect to promoting women in the agricultural sector. Overall as you must know the extension programme is pretty weak at addressing women in particular, and gender in general, in agriculture. If your work has suggestions on this it would be really interesting to know more because this is pretty fundamental to value chain development. The women farmers I spoke to favour working with women extensionists from the village itself 'they control us, we control them', and some other ideas came up.

Appropriate methods for involving women in programmes in the culturally conservative region of East Gojjam remain to be devised though a start has been made. I am sure that a great deal can be done here, for example through learning from the experience of other countries where female mobility and interaction with non-family men is highly restricted. Again if you have experiences to share from this region in particular it would be so interesting.

Gender focal points have developed some brilliant tools for raising consciousness on gender issues in farming communities that appear to be very successful in challenging gender norms. These are well worth knowing about. However, structurally they lack the power within the local institutional hierarchies to institutionalise their work. Overall, accountability for gender outcomes is lacking in organisational remits/ personal job descriptions is lacking though the regional government in Amhara is taking really bold steps in this direction.

There are some really promising micro-credit schemes directed at the absolute poor. Market-led projects directed at women seem much less promising partly because they are over-ambitious.

Overall, the study concludes that there were some good achievements but that so much got lost along the way and this was really sad to see. If you want to see my report as to the whys and wherefores of the conclusion please advise and I will upload. The report has been published by Sida in its Evaluation Series (there is a main paper covering 5 countries with quite a lot on the SARDP).

Thank you Cathy
Hi Cathy,

I'd be interested in reading your report. In particular, I'd like to know more about about the Gender focal points you mention - are these the facilitators at the kebele and gote level? Please do pass your report along - you can either post it or email it to me at

Dear Deepa (and any interested colleagues)

This is the entire report - if you cannot download please contact me direct on The material on SARDP is particularly on p48 (yes facilitators at kebele level) and p. 37 which discusses why things did not work out so well in the agri wing of SARDP.

Best Cathy
Thanks cathy,

I have tagged the report for our online resources collection.

Dear Cathy and Deepa
Sorry the final report is not yet available, the consultant is still working on some aspects. I'll check again when it will be available. I'll ask our partner to allow me putting it on this site as soon as it is ready.



Yes, working in value chain is really challenging work for especially in developing countries and even so hard from gender perspectives. Because most of the women are farmers who have least role in decision making and there is large gap between farmer and other actor in value chain. While conducting the value chain workshop in Nepal, I have also experienced that the participation in value chain training and workshop was dominated by other agents than farmers and especially by man than women. This is because the educational, social and economic gaps between different values chain actors.  It is really good to know that the membership and participation of women is increasing however, there should be careful consideration for making their active participation as well. There should be careful selection of staffs working in the project who is familiar to the community and is  known about the conditions and emotions of women participant so that they can provide proper facilitation.

Thank you.


Rama Paudel

Special focus needs to be given in the initial stage of the project. For example, targeting to women and gender is necessary. The High Value Agriculture Project in Hill and Mountain Areas (HVAP) in Nepal is a joint initiation of Government of Nepal/Ministry of Agricultural Development (MoAD) and IFAD in partnership with SNV focused gender as the following: 

(i) Develop gender responsive and socially inclusive policies to create a gender friendly and socially inclusive environment
(ii) Institutionalise the role of ‘gender focal point’ to ensure processes addressing GSI issues/concerns
(iii) Target interventions to ensure the participation of women and excluded groups in planning and implementation processes and promote equal access to resources and benefit
(iv) Balance the workload within households participating in value chains to optimise the positive impact on the target population and reduce drudgery and other negative impacts
(v) Build the capacity of value chain actors, including women and excluded groups, to create responsive and inclusive value chains by enhancing the skills and knowledge of the target groups so that they may better participate in VCD
(vi) Monitor and evaluate interventions to ensure that GSI issues are well addressed in VCD
(vii) Strengthen information and communication systems to ensure that relevant information is delivered via appropriate media based on the needs of target groups at all levels.

Hope this gave you some insight in addressing gender in value chains. 

Thank you,


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