Implementing Gender-Responsive Farmer Business School with Smallholder Potato Farmers in Tungurahua, Ecuador
The purpose of this study was to examine the case of the smallholder potato farmer’s organization known as CONPAPA, in the province of Tungurahua in the Ecuadorian Andes, in order to inform the evolving methodology of Farmer Business School (FBS). Diverse native potato varieties are grown in the Andes, and both women and men play key roles in the farming system. The FBS methodology emerged from Indonesia and only recently implemented within the cultural context of Latin America. Additionally, this study focussed specifically on the gender relations that exist within the potato growing organization CONPAPA. Multiple data collection methods used in this study included naturalistic observation, CONPAPA member survey, key informant interviews and focus groups. The findings of this study suggest that male and female group members are encouraged to participate equally and attain positions of leadership within CONPAPA, however the female participants are lacking in verbal skills and self-confidence. Due to the high level of institutional support that farmers receive from CONPAPA, this study concludes that the FBS methodology should focus more on the individual capacities of farmers to benefit financially from their production of potatoes.