toggle button Lersha
lersha logo Lersha

“Don’t forget about us”

from Women’s Consultation on the Digital Provision of Agro-climate Advisory Services

Creating an inclusive Image of Ethiopian Agriculture

The poster image of Ethiopian agriculture has long been of men working on farmlands, but this depiction does not do the millions of active women farmers justice. Throughout generations, Ethiopian women have participated in a myriad of agricultural activities by growing subsistence and commercial crops, rearing livestock, as well as processing plant and animal products to offer the fruits of their labour to local and international markets.

The historical lack of women’s representation has not only narrowed our collective understanding of the country’s agricultural sector, but it has also been reflected in our development policies, implementation strategies, and how we have tracked our national progress. Although women contribute more than 40% of the labour force in the sector, this oversight has made it less likely for them to receive timely and appropriate advisory and extension services. The inaccessibility of agricultural knowledge tailored to their needs limits their productivity, affecting their income and families’ access to nutritious meals

Lersha Blog Masa Poster

Embedding Gender-Responsiveness into Digital Agro Climate Advisory Service

The Digital Agricultural Extension Services Advisory (DAEAS) Roadmap is a national plan in development guiding the country’s navigation towards digitally disseminating agricultural knowledge. In tandem with this roadmap, the Lersha digital platform has partnered with the International Wheat and Maize Improvement Center (CIMMYT) under the Accelerating Impacts of CGIAR Climate Research for Africa (AICCRA) initiative to digitally disseminate agro climate information. It is imperative that this collaboration addresses women’s specific extension and advisory needs to ensure that digital tools bridge the gender gap - not exacerbate it.

A Participatory Approach to Understand Women Farmers' Needs

Lersha Blog Masa Poster

In 2022, Lersha and its partners have conducted a series of awareness-creation workshops focused on the role of digital agro-climate advisory services on promoting climate change responsive agricultural practices. During each workshop, there was an open session dedicated to women’s consultation on the challenges they are facing due to climate change, and what their advisory needs are. The session was included with the recognition that women are community knowledge keepers, and listening to them is critical to providing context-appropriate solutions. Women farmers’ positive sentiments and eagerness to share their experiences did not only affirm that this approach was pragmatic, but also long overdue.

We started passing the microphone to women at our kickoff workshop in Adama with a farmer from Arsi Zone. After appreciating the opportunity to contribute in the language she felt most comfortable, she made a profound statement about the need for a gender-responsive advisory service:

"Do not forget about us. We women work on farmlands just as much as the men. We also grow garden vegetables, raise chickens and rear livestock in our smallholdings. We are concerned about how climate change will affect us; so we need advice on what measures we should take while engaging in these activities. "

Do not forget about us. We women work on farmlands just as much as the men. We also grow garden vegetables, raise chickens and rear livestock in our smallholdings. We are concerned about how climate change will affect us; so we need advice on what measures we should take while engaging in these activities. "

Lersha Blog Masa Poster

Currently, women farmers rely on Development Agents (DAs) for advisories, and expressed their established trust with the government-employed agricultural experts. Several women in Bahir Dar pointed out that literacy and phone ownership could be barriers for them to digitally receive agro climate advisory information. They indicated that in-person visits and demonstrations, like the ones they have been receiving the past decades, would be an ideal means to reach them. Another important insight from our conversations was that indigenous knowledge plays a large role in informing their decisions; with localised names for pests and diseases, and traditional remedies to treat them. In Debre Berhan, where farmers expressed their challenges with water supply shortage and soil acidity, women expressed that community groups were a vital support system.

"We discuss the issues we observe on our farms, how each of us is managing our land, and remedying pest and disease infestations, then we work together to apply fertilisers, agrochemicals and participate in good farming practices."

Reflecting on the women’s contributions, a model farmer shared his conviction on the importance of addressing women’s needs, highlighting that women are pillars of their communities.

"I am a model farmer because my wife is a strong farmer who works alongside me and this applies to all the male model farmers here with us. In order for us to be a successful farming community, we should tackle the water shortage challenges that often fall on women’s shoulders."

This observation identifies a critical issue: we cannot pursue a way forward in digital agroclimate advisory services without addressing the specific challenges women are facing due to climate change.

A Call to Action for Providing Accessible Agro-Climate Advisories to Women Farmers

Lersha Blog Masa Poster

These consultation sessions do not only lend us crucial insights into women farmers’ pain points, we now hold the responsibility to address them. Identifying the activities that women are most engaged with will drive advisory content generation on sub-sectors like growing vegetables, livestock rearing, poultry, and dairy production. Understanding the persisting gender gap in phone ownership and literacy underscores the need for a mixed-delivery approach that utilises in-person engagements and traditional community groups. The presence of rich indigenous knowledge also calls for diligent work to incorporate it into our digital pathway, including knowledge translation aligning local understandings with conventional scientific terminology.

The way forward to provide accessible agro climate advisory services to women farmers is to grasp the existing knowledge and community ties, then leverage digital tools to enhance reciprocal knowledge exchange

Selam Abdella is the Communications and Knowledge Development Lead at Lersha. You can reach out to her at


LERSHA Platform is a system brought to you by Green Agro Solution with the aim of improving smallholder farmers' access to farm inputs, mechanization service and offering credible, timely, and critical Advisory services

Copyright 2020 @Lersha Terms & Conditions Privacy Policy