By keeping their farms productive (e.g. by reclaiming previously abandoned land due to heavy striga infestation), push-pull technology has maintained rural employment, particularly for women who often have lower education opportunities and unable to search for non-farm employment.
Gender >> Home
The push-pull technology contributes significantly to reducing the vulnerability of farm families, particularly female-headed households, by enabling intensification of agriculture on limited land resources. It ensures higher yields and better yield stability on small pieces of land. A recent study reveals that the technology seems to be a "springboard" for diversifying the farming system, especially incorporating smallholder dairy operations. The technology has enabled thousands of women, who are often time-constrained and do not have large land parcels for free-grazing, to keep higher value dairy animals (cows and goats) with much higher milk productivity. Furthermore, the increased livestock operations due to higher availability of fodder results in an increased production of organic manure for crop production and making farmers less dependant on mineral fertilizer. It affords them the opportunity to increase food security, have better incomes, education of their children, nutritional health of the family, more knowledge and a higher livelihood status.
Social impact: In addition to higher economic returns, the push-pull technology has produced the following social impacts among smallholder farmers, particularly women:
Food security and (related) health: the technology increased physical availability of, or economic access to, food throughout the year and provided a more balanced diet (especially if milk production was started or increased). Women, who have assumed greater responsibility to ensure the households' food security, were left less vulnerable.
Labour: accounts for a significant portion of the farmer's costs, in some instances accounting for over 50% of the total production costs. Starting from the second cropping year the labour costs and the total production costs drop. This reduction is attributable to the lower costs of land preparation, particularly ploughing, since the farmers plough only between the rows of desmodium from the second cropping year. In some areas, farmers simply cut back the desmodium and plant maize at the beginning of a cropping season (minimum tillage). The reduction of labour under Push-pull makes the technology less strenuous and more affordable to women farmers.
Education: Most families use the additional income generated by push-pull to pay school fees for their children. School fees are some of the major financial constraints typically encountered in vulnerable farm households.
Employment and family stability: By keeping their farms productive (e.g. by reclaiming previously abandoned land due to heavy striga infestation), Push-pull technology has maintained rural employment, particularly for women who often have lower education opportunities and unable to search for non-farm employment. This has also retained able bodied men on the farm and prevented their migration in search of employment. This aspect has become increasingly important for family stability, as families are able to be gainfully employed on, make more productive use of, their own land.
Knowledge and skills: The promotion of push-pull goes along with capacity-building on good and relatively easy to implement farming practices (proper crop spacing, production of fodder, dairy operation with zero grazing etc.) thus contributing substantially to building up more knowledge and skills of smallholder farmers, particularly those with few opportunities for formal learning.
Social status and safety nets: To become a successful farmer, overcoming major production constraints and diversification of farm operations (e.g. dairy) is a key aspect for farmers to regain their pride, to have the feeling of being a farmer by conviction rather than by lack of other options. Thus Push-pull has empowered farmers, both males and females. The various farmer-to-farmer exchanges and mutual assistance to establish the technology also strengthened or created safety nets within villages and beyond.