A new IFPRI Discussion Paper describes a case study examining the issue of Bt cotton adoption and use by women farmers in Colombia. This case study, initially funded by OXFAM America, was led by Patricia Zambrano was the first in a series of case studies that are examining issues related to women farmers adopting and using GM crops in developing countries. Other studies, funded by IDRC and other investors, will be examining adoption and impact use in the Philippines, Burkina Faso and South Africa.

An article by Susan Buzzelli in the new issue of IFPRI’s magazine Insights (“Do women think differently about GM crops”) describes the dearth of information on gender and biotech. As quoted from Patricia Zambrano’s description of the situation in Colombia:

It appears that GM cotton is seen as advantageous by women for reasons that differ from those cited by men. It seem to save women farmers money in some critical activities that would otherwise require them to hire and supervise men – for example, int the application of insecticides and other chemicals

This of course implies that there is a critical need to re-examine communication, extension and technology knowledge flows that will be more finely tuned to women farmers. In my mind it seems an extraordinary oversight for both private companies and the public sector, to overlook one major segment of their potential clientele by pursuing the more traditional marketing and extension approaches used in the past.


Women cotton farmers: Their perceptions and experiences with transgenic varieties – A case study for Colombia. Zambrano, Patricia; Maldonado, Jorge H.; Mendoza, Sandra L.; Ruiz, Lorena; Fonseca, Luz Amparo; Cardona, Iván. IFPRI Discussion Paper 1118.
To access IFPRI Discussion paper 1118 on women and Bt cotton in Colombia click here….

“This paper explores gender differences in cotton cultivation and looks into the perceptions and experiences of women and men with transgenic varieties. With few exceptions, researchers in the area of impact evaluation of crop biotechnology have only marginally included gender considerations in their work. This exploratory pilot study was developed in order to incorporate gender into our quantitative evaluation work. This study used a participatory and descriptive approach that allowed us to listen to women and men farmers’ perceptions and insights. The project was conducted in the main cotton-producing regions of Colombia where a handful of transgenic varieties have been in the market for the past six years.”