Inclusion by design

Targeted outreach increases women participation in trainings

In tropical parts of Mexico, high humidity and pervasive crop pests regularly cause smallholder farmers to lose up to 40% of their grain after harvest, often with severe consequences for local food security. Fortunately, such losses are largely avoidable when farmers adopt best postharvest practices and appropriate grain storage technologies, which the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) has been promoting for many years.

Women identify postharvest damage in seeds during a workshop in Campeche, Mexico.
Women identify postharvest damage in seeds during a workshop in Campeche, Mexico.

However, while testing these technologies as part of a large-scale study on dozens of sites across the country, CIMMYT researchers discovered a new obstacle. In rural Mexico, as in many rural communities worldwide, women play an important role in postharvest activities, but researchers noted that it was mostly men who attended relevant trainings on how to process and store grain. To address this, they had to find new approaches to ensure that future CIMMYT trainings would reach those who stand to benefit the most — namely, the women who carry out the bulk of postharvest work in their communities.

Strategies to increase participation included organizing trainings specifically for women, purposefully scheduling trainings at times when women would be available to attend, working in collaboration with female agricultural extension agents, and designing invitations with inclusive language. For example, those sharing invitations — whether using flyers or through word of mouth — were specifically asked to refer to both productores and productoras (the male and female words for “farmers” in Spanish), or use the gender neutral jóvenes when referring to young people.

The new gender inclusion strategies were most recently implemented during a project to strengthen market access for smallholder maize and legume farmers in the states of Campeche, Chiapas and Oaxaca, which ran from 2018 to 2020 and featured a large postharvest management component.

Despite the challenges posed by COVID-19 restrictions in the final project year, CIMMYT trained 2,801 farmers — 38% of them women — on postharvest management, with maize grain losses dropping from 19.5% to less than 0.2% as a result of using hermetic technologies.

Researchers are now looking to build on this success by incorporating this gender-sensitive approach into future projects with the Walmart Foundation, harnessing women’s managerial and technical competencies and encouraging their participation in decision-making over income, cash-crop farming, and autonomy in agricultural production.

Partners and funders

This project was supported by the Walmart Foundation.

© 2021 International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center
We would like to thank all funders who supported this research through their contributions to the CGIAR Trust Fund.

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Marcia MacNeil, Rodrigo Ordóñez
Project coordination
Leslie Domínguez, Emma Orchardson
Art directors
Alfonso Cortés, Nancy Valtierra
Layout and design
Nancy Valtierra
Web design
Ricardo López
Graphics and illustrations
Marcelo Ortiz, Eliot Sánchez, Nancy Valtierra
Writers and editors
Nima Chodon, Madeline Dahm, Leslie Domínguez, Alison Doody, Wasim Iftikar, G. Michael Listman, Marcia MacNeil, Steven McCutcheon, Marta Millere, Emma Orchardson
T.S. Amjath Babu, Frederic Baudron, Hans Braun, Shiela Chikulo, Olaf Erenstein, Velu Govindan, M.L. Jat, Timothy Krupnik, Sylvanus Odjo, B.M. Prasanna, Harminder S. Sidhu, Jelle Van Loon
Francisco Alarcón, Alfonso Cortés, Wasim Iftikar, Peter Lowe, Ranak Martin, S. Mojumder/Drik, Matthew O'Leary, Love Kumar Singh/BISA, F. Sipalla, Dhruba Thapa/NARC, Szefei Wong/Dreamstime, CIMMYT Archives
Silvia Rico
Correct citation
CIMMYT. 2021. Resilience. Renewal. Transition. CIMMYT Annual Report 2020. CDMX, Mexico: CIMMYT.
AGROVOC descriptors:
Maize; Wheat; Plant breeding; Genetic resources; Innovation adoption; Plant biotechnology; Seed production; Food security; Sustainability; Research policies; Economic analysis; Cropping systems; Agricultural research; Organization of research; Developing countries. Additional Keywords: CIMMYT. AGRIS category codes: A50 Agricultural Research; A01 Agriculture– General Aspects. Dewey decimal classification: 630

© International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT), 2021. All rights reserved. The designations employed in the presentation of materials in this publication do not imply the expression of any opinion whatsoever on the part of CIMMYT or its contributory organizations concerning the legal status of any country, territory, city, or area, or of its authorities, or concerning the delimitation of its frontiers or boundaries. CIMMYT encourages fair use of this material. Proper citation is requested.


Asian Development Bank
Accelerating Genetic Gains in Maize and Wheat
Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research
Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics
Bioactive food components
Borlaug Institute in South Asia
CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture, and Food Security
International Center for Tropical Agriculture
International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center
CIMMYT Maize Genetic Resource Lines
Carbon dioxide equivalent
Cereal Systems Initiative for South Asia
Crops to End Hunger
Ethiopian Institute of Agricultural Research
CGIAR Excellence in Breeding Platform
Executive Management Team
European Union
United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization
Farm Power and Conservation Agriculture for Sustainable Intensification
Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office of the United Kingdom
Fusarium head blight
Innovative Applications in Analytics Award
Indian Council of Agricultural Research
International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas
International Food Policy Research Institute
International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis
International Institute of Tropical Agriculture
Institut de Recherche pour le Développement
International Rice Research Institute
Integrated Tribal Development Agency
Jiangsu Academy of Agricultural Sciences
Kenya Agricultural & Livestock Research Organization
Key performance indicators
CGIAR Research Program on Maize
Nitrous oxide
Nepal Agricultural Research Council
National Agricultural Research Systems
Odisha Rural Development and Marketing Society
Punjab Agricultural University
Program for Growth and Resilience
Mexico's Secretariat of Agriculture and Rural Development (Secretaría de Agricultura y Desarrollo Rural)
Sustainable Development Goals
Seeds of Discovery
Stress Tolerant Maize for Africa
Zimbabwe Resilience Building Fund
United Nations
United Nations Development Programme
United States Agency for International Development
United Nations World Food Programme
CGIAR Research Program on Wheat
Unless otherwise indicated, all amounts are expressed in U.S. dollars

Sustainable Development Goals

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, adopted by all United Nations (UN) Member States in 2015, provides a shared blueprint for peace and prosperity, for people and the planet. At its heart are the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which are an urgent call for action by all countries to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all.

The SDGs set the pathway for agricultural, social, and economic development. They address the global challenges we face, including poverty, inequality, climate change, environmental degradation, peace and justice.

CGIAR transformed its approach to ensure that its work is aligned with the ambitious goals. CIMMYT, through its research-for-development activities, contributes to empower women, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and improve the health and nutrition of the world's poorest people.

CIMMYT’s work contributes to the following SDGs:


CIMMYT – the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center – is the global leader in publicly-funded maize and wheat research and related farming systems. Headquartered near Mexico City, CIMMYT works with hundreds of partners throughout the developing world to sustainably increase the productivity of maize and wheat cropping systems, thus improving global food security and reducing poverty. CIMMYT is a member of the CGIAR System and leads the CGIAR Research Programs on Maize and Wheat and the Excellence in Breeding Platform. The Center receives support from national governments, foundations, development banks and other public and private agencies.

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