The need for an engendered approach to agricultural technology
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Given the large numbers of South African women involved in some form of agriculture, this Focus argues that a more engendered approach is required for the introduction of agricultural technology in rural areas. Such an approach would make agricultural technology more appropriate to the requirements, roles and responsibilities of female producers. While a number of women are engaged in commercial agriculture, the majority engage in agriculture for household food consumption requirements. Despite this, policies and programmes concentrate on the introduction of high-input agricultural technologies and infrastructure provision that are geared towards male farmers, most of whom farm larger tracts of land and produce for commercial purposes. This situation arises from the manner in which technology is developed (largely spill-over technology from large-scale industrial agricultural research), the overwhelming focus on commercial production, and the fact that the introduction of technology ignores the gender dynamics of rural livelihoods and asset accumulation. Current approaches to technology support do not appear to consider the circumstances of rural women. This argument is developed using quantitative and qualitative evidence from recent studies in which the authors have been involved.