Food Security

, Volume 10, Issue 4, pp 859–880 | Cite as

Participatory problem analysis of crop activities in rural Tanzania with attention to gender and wealth: ‘setting the scene’ to enhance relevance and avoid exclusion in pro-poor innovation projects

  • Pamela Richardson-NgwenyaEmail author
  • Maria Höhne
  • Brigitte Kaufmann
Original Paper


Many Agricultural Research for Development (AR4D) projects continue to treat smallholder farmers as a homogenous social group and ignore the de-facto exclusion of certain subgroups that are hard to reach due to a variety of social, economic or cultural factors. This study took place as a first step in an AR4D project (Trans-SEC) that focussed on innovation testing with smallholder farmers in Central Tanzania. A participatory problem analysis aimed to develop understanding by researchers of the farmers’ crop production system and the local context. A participatory approach was employed to identify the main problems from the perspectives of farmers, giving attention to socio-economic and gender-related differences. Extracting from a larger participatory situation analysis, this paper describes the approach, methods and results of the problem analysis and also incorporates results from a household survey of the key problems faced by different smallholder farmers across four case study sites in the Morogoro and Dodoma regions of Tanzania. Results from the participatory sessions contextualised the quantitative results derived from the concurrent household survey. The paper highlights the critical problematic circumstances of low-income households, which are suffering most from inter-connected problems across their crop activity system. Results point to the problem of a lack of labour and time available to women, especially those heading households or of lower economic status. We argue from these results that intersecting, socially differentiated problem situations are an important consideration in defining relevant points of entry for AR4D projects and for shaping subsequent stages of research design to foster more inclusive, pro-poor processes. We conclude by outlining the benefits and challenges of conducting a participatory situation analysis as a first step in an AR4D project.


Participatory research Tanzania Smallholder agriculture Socio-economic factors AR4D projects 



This research took place in the frame of the GlobE project “Trans-SEC: Innovating pro-poor strategies to safeguard food security using technology and knowledge transfer: a people-centred approach” financed by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research and the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development. Authors would like to express thanks to all participants in the CSSs, translators (Shani, Nengi, Devotha and Davis), and local facilitators (particularly the support provided by the Agricultural Research Institutes of Tanzania and the National Network of Small-Scale Farmers’ Groups in Tanzania (MVIWATA). Special thanks also to Anja Faße and her team for providing access to the household survey data. We also thank Raul Fernandez for work on survey data preparation and to Markus Frank for formatting assistance. Authors gratefully acknowledge the detailed input of two anonymous reviewers.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V., part of Springer Nature and International Society for Plant Pathology 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Pamela Richardson-Ngwenya
    • 1
    Email author
  • Maria Höhne
    • 1
  • Brigitte Kaufmann
    • 1
  1. 1.German Institute for Tropical and Subtropical Agriculture (DITSL GmbH)WitzenhausenGermany

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