The International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) recently worked with a female researcher, Esther Obafunsho, to conduct a fieldwork study on cassava users’ technographic activities in the Imo and Oshun states of Nigeria. Technography is the study, observation, and description of technologies and their use in relation to a specific ecological, social, and historical setting.
The gender-focused research was conducted to support IITA’s efforts to generate modern and improved cassava clones that cater to end-user preferences. Obafunsho presented the findings in a talk titled “Contexts and practises: A gendered technography of farmer-processor cassava activities in Nigeria” in March, 2022. The study’s goal, according to her, was to uncover ambitions, obstacles, and opportunities in cassava growing, processing, and commercialisation in Osun and Imo.
These did this by determining opportunities and obstacles for men and women among the various value chain actors by mapping “context-mechanism-outcome (CMO) combinations” and how they differ for men and women cassava users.
Obafunsho is a Wageningen University MSc student who has been conducting qualitative social science research as an intern at the IITA Cassava Breeding Unit. Drs. Harro Maat and Birgit Boogaard (Technology, Knowledge and Innovation Group at Wageningen University in the Netherlands) and Béla Teeken, Associate Social and Gender Scientist at IITA, supervise Obafunsho.
“The team also mapped out the ways actors are organized, how cooperation and organization differ by gender and value chain actor, and why they differ. They unveiled hidden mechanisms such as cultural beliefs, community organization, prestige, and historical knowledge, embedded within the communities. These mechanisms were identified as factors that shape aspirations, opportunities, and challenges for men and women in their daily cassava-related activities. Fieldwork, e.g., indicated that women would prefer small processing machines that can be individually owned rather than initiatives focused on larger machines, group work, and processing centers,” IITA said.
Obafunsho discussed her experience working with the gender team in an interview with Favour Eleta, IITA Gender Communication Liaison. Her previous employment experience had been with national research organisations, so she has learnt how to negotiate an international work environment. She also stressed the necessity of intercultural communication in validating people’s knowledge in the places where the research is being conducted. “My passion is to achieve equity, inclusiveness, and diversity,” Obafunsho said, explaining why she works with the gender team.