(Tetum) Farmer groups that grow maize seed and have good results have lots of maize to handle after the harvest. Traditionally, for maize processing and particularly sorting seeds, this is mainly done by women as they are considered to do this more thoroughly than men.
To reduce the workload, Seeds of Life has provided labour saving devices such as screens, shellers and grinders to the farmer groups.
Seeds of Life recently did a survey on the gender impact of such labour saving devices’ use in maize seed groups. The purpose was to evaluate whether, and how, the introduction of such tools had an impact on gender, and in particular on the gender division of tasks within maize groups.
Around 50 men and 24 women members of Commercial Seed Producers and Community Seed Production Groups in eight municipalities were interviewed between May and June 2015.
The study shows that the gender division of labour seems to be very much balanced between men and women members, where 50% of the total work performance is conducted by women members when including food preparation during the work.
Women are also more involved in grading cobs and shelling maize (53%), two tasks in which they are considered more thorough than men.
Tools such as shellers and screens help to reduce the workload of women within groups, as women no longer have to sort maize seed manually, a very exhausting and time consuming task. More than 75% of the farmers said that they spend much less time on these activities using the devices.
Overall, both men and women respondents are very satisfied with the tools as they help to save time, the tools are easy to use, and they give good results. If anything, the groups would like to have more of these tools.