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Piloting gender-responsive research tool 5Capitals-G in three countries

Conducting interviews according to 5Capitals-G training. Photo: Bioversity International
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Adapted from Bioversity International

Gathering Kokum. Photo: Eva Hermanowicz/Bioversity International
Gathering Kokum in India. Photo: Eva Hermanowicz/Bioversity International

A new tool to assess poverty in a gender-responsive way is set to prove its value in a pilot phase, starting mid-2016 in India, Peru and Guatemala. To prepare for the launch of the methodology called 5Capitals-G, field researchers from three parts of India were trained in a workshop in April. The training was co-funded by the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry.

Over the past decade, value chain development (VCD) involving smallholders has become more and more important for actors who want to reduce rural poverty. Donors, governments and private sector have invested millions of dollars in value chain development, but fairly little is known to what extent such initiatives effectively reduce poverty. This is partially due to the fact that appropriate methodologies and tools for assessing the impacts of value chain development on poverty are not readily available.

Researchers from the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF), Bioversity International, CATIE and multiple partners around the globe addressed this gap by developing the learning tool 5Capitals. It uses an asset-based approach for assessing the poverty impacts of value chain development at the level of both smallholder households and the enterprises that link these farmers with processors and buyers downstream the value chain. The data will be obtained through, for example, key informant interviews, household surveys and analysis of secondary information.

To take into consideration gender in this methodology, Bioversity International and the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) are developing 5Capitals-G, which will be piloted mid-2016 in India, Guatemala and Peru.

5Capitals-G assessment methodology.
5Capitals assessment methodology

5Capitals-G looks at the poverty levels of both smallholder households and enterprises, collecting data from both women and men. Researchers assess household and business assets, as described in this table from the 5Capitals handbook.

The training was held in Karnataka, where students from the College of Forestry in Sirsi will be testing the 5Capitals-G tool to study the value chains of three forest fruit species: Garcinia indica (kokum), Mangifera indica (mango), and Garcinia gummi-gutta (brindleberry).

The workshop laid out the conceptual foundation of an asset-based approach to value chain development and the importance of applying a gender lens to identify the access to and control over assets. Access and control differ between women and men.

The participants pre-tested the different elements of the tool for final refinement, visiting the farmers’ cooperative society Kadamba in Sirsi, which has more than 2,000 members from across Karnataka. For many of the participating students, this was a first experience in conducting key informant, household and enterprise interviews.

They interviewed the CEO and several female and male employees and learned that the cooperative provides diverse income-earning opportunities by purchasing close to 30 agricultural and forest products cultivated or collected by their members. One of the products the cooperative buys is kokum, which they process into fresh juices and powered juice crystals.

Leaders of three Village Forest Committees explained how they manage sustainability issues linked with the collection and commercialization of forest products.

For the household assessments, participants asked women and men smallholders in their homes to understand their experiences with marketing kokum and the ways their involvement in the kokum value chain ties in with the many other activities they pursue to make a living.

Conducting interviews according to 5Capitals-G training. Photo: Bioversity International
Conducting interviews according to 5Capitals-G training. Photo: Bioversity International

Participants grouped into mixed teams of men and women interviewers to first interview the male and female households jointly. Then the women interviewers continued with the female respondents and the male interviewers with the male respondents to appreciate differences in the perspectives and realities of women and men. Some of them were surprised to learn how a man and a woman of the same household may differ in their perception of who makes decisions on what.

The main takeaways from the workshop were:

  • It is critical to account for diverse and even conflicting views and needs of women and men in both the households and smallholder enterprises.
  • The design and monitoring of value chain interventions requires specific engagement with men and women to ensure that both benefit form value chain development in an equitable way.

Shambhavi Priyam, a young researcher working with Action for Social Advancement in Madhya Pradesh, reflected that “it was amazing to see the nitty-gritties which have to be considered when designing a tool with gender consideration. There is no ‘one size fits all’ system for social research”.

The introduction of young researchers in India and elsewhere to the concepts of gender-responsive research in relation to value chain development will allow them to increase the depth of their work and their capacity to develop gender-equitable solutions for eliminating poverty.

This blog draws on the experience of

  • Dietmar Stoian, Principal Scientist, Value Chains and Private Sector Engagement,
  • Gennifer Meldrum, Research Fellow, Nutrition and Marketing Diversity
  • Marlène Elias, Gender Specialist, Conservation and Management of Forest Genetic Resources

The training was implemented as part of the project ‘Innovations in Ecosystem Management and Conservation (IEMaC)’ with support from the CGIAR Research Program on Policies, Institutions and Markets (PIM). The IEMaC project is funded by the InFoRM (Innovations in Forest Resource Management) program of USAID, which aims to reduce forest degradation in India, with co-funding from the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry (FTA). Participants in the workshop also included partners of the project ‘Linking agrobiodiversity value chains, climate adaptation and nutrition: Empowering the poor to manage risk’ that is supported by IFAD, the European Union and the CGIAR Research Program of Climate Change Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) promoting value chain development of minor millets.



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  • Discussion on CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry

Discussion on CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry

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To mark International Day of Forests 2016, Peter Holmgren, Director General of the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) and Tony Simons, Director General of the World Agroforestry Center (ICRAF), discuss the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead for forests and for our planet.

Below is a transcript of Part 3 in our special three-part TV interview series.

This final segment discusses the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry (FTA), which was started in 2011 and will be entering its second phase in 2017.

The program is being supported by six research centers: CIFOR, ICRAF,Bioversity International, the Tropical Agricultural Research and Higher Education Center (CATIE), the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT), and the Agricultural Research for Development (CIRAD). With over 230 researchers working in more than 35 countries across Asia, Africa and Latin America, the FTA program responds to the urgent need for a strong and sustained research focus on the management of forests and trees.

Trees on farms and in forests play a crucial role in confronting some of the most important challenges of our time: reducing poverty, improving food security and nutrition, and protecting our environment. They are also important in sustaining ecosystem services like clean water and biodiversity conservation.

A conversation with the Directors General of two CGIAR centers
Part 3: The CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry (FTA)

CIFOR and ICRAF are two of the 15 research centers that comprise CGIAR – the only worldwide partnership addressing agricultural research for development whose work contributes to the global effort to tackle poverty, hunger and environmental degradation.

Adinda Hasan, Communications Specialist for Asia, CIFOR

Why did the CGIAR see the need to add a focus on natural resources in the 1980s?

Tony Simons, Director-General, World Agroforestry Center (ICRAF)

The CGIAR was very successful since its establishment in 1971 following a Bellagio meeting around the need to boost the world’s food’s production. We saw through that Green Revolution a lot of emphasis on improved varieties and improved cropping systems, but that was not the full solution. There was a lot of draw-down on natural capital.

So we recorded the revenue from increased cereal production, but not the negative cost to the environment. And that was why it was very important to bring in that environmental dimension and ecosystems services. Probably the biggest win for the world was the establishment of CIFOR in 1993 to help strengthen that within the CGIAR.

Peter Holmgren, Director-General, CIFOR

We live in a transition of times. In the 1970s, food production was the main agenda item for the CGIAR. Since then, we’ve seen the development of the political arena, development of the objectives on all levels. We see a lot more of the social and environmental aspects coming in, just as it does as it does with sustainable development.


So both your centers have played key roles in the program on Trees, Forests and Agroforestry. You’ve just finished your first phase. How did that go? Can you tell us about the key challenges and the main achievements?


Well, this year is the final year of the first phase. We haven’t quite finished it yet, but CIFOR and ICRAF are the largest contributors to the program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry.

We’re now moving into a second phase. We are currently working on the planning of that. The new phase of the Forests, Trees and Agroforestry program will start in 2017. We will add new partners. We will develop our work, our agenda, our objectives further. We will streamline and focus on our theory of change to make a difference along the lines that we’ve discussed here today. It’s really about the partnership. It’s really about the interests of stakeholders around the world to invest in this program.


It’s a fascinatingly exciting program because it’s been operational for six years. And we’ve achieved more as two centers working together than we have probably in the previous decade.

That has brought excitement to the scientists; it brought operational realities on the ground. It was about co-location, co-design, co-investment and co-attribution and recognition of the outputs of that. To do what? To accelerate impact in those environments in which we work.


As I see it, and I know we share this view, research capacity development and engagement is integrated in development and our efforts. CIFOR envisions a more equitable world where forests and trees contribute to the livelihoods, to the well-being and to a sustainable environment for all.


A great focus in the second round is going to be capitalizing on the gains we made on gender. The Forests, Trees and Agroforestry program had one of the most progressive not only gender strategies, but gender action plans. It was rewarding also to see the high level of attribution of budget towards increasing the role of gender into our programs.

When you ask the question, ‘Are we optimistic’? I think Peter and I share a lot of hope, joy and opportunity around raising the profile of forests and trees in the framework of the Sustainable Development Goals, in the framework of the Paris Climate Agreement and also in the new CGIAR Forests, Trees and Agroforestry program.Because if these two premier research and development organizations on forests and trees- if we can’t do it, no one else is going to be able to.

This is the final episode of our special three-part video interview series for the International Day of Forests 2016.

Watch Part 1 and Part 2

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