PhD Thesis Defence: Rachana Devkota

Date and Time


Via Videoconference


Rachana Devkota, a Doctoral Student in Rural Studies in the School of Environmental Design and Rural Development, will defend her PhD thesis on "Responsible Innovation for Mechanization in Hill side farming in Nepal:  A Gender Perspective".

Examination Committee:
Dr. Helen Hambly (SEDRD), Advisor
Dr. Manish Raizada (Plant Agriculture), Co-Advisor
Dr. Silvia Sarapura (SEDRD), Internal Examiner 
Dr. Bipasha Baruah  (Western), External Examiner

Advisory Committee:
Dr. Helen Hambly (SEDRD), Advisor
Dr. Manish Raizada (Plant Agriculture), Co-Advisor
Dr. John Fitzsimmons (SEDRD)

Thesis Abstract:
Gender equity and social inclusion in agricultural innovation are global challenges. This dissertation focuses on the specific context of Nepal, particularly as the country seeks to mechanize smallholder agriculture to address acute labour scarcity and food insecurity in the country. An understanding of Nepal’s efforts to mainstream gender in agricultural innovation, particularly in farm mechanization policy and projects as well as extension services for smallholders in the country’s hillside region seeks to contribute new knowledge and better policy recommendations to improve the lives and livelihoods of rural communities and farm households. The thesis examines how a gender perspective improves the understanding of the long-term and profound implications of social inequity in agricultural innovation, including recent national policies and agricultural development projects focused on mechanization. The methodology for the study involved content analysis of policy documents, key informant interviews, farmer group discussions, individual farmer interviews, and in depth review of relevant literature. Four academic journal articles present the results of the study. The first article examines gender mainstreaming within agricultural innovation policy in Nepal. The findings suggest that the country needs a harmonized approach to prioritize gender and enhance policy implementation at the local level. The second article assesses Nepal’s 2014 Agricultural Mechanization Promotion Policy (AMPP) from the perspective of responsible innovation. The review shows that while AMPP is a step forward and promotes private sector involvement, it does not strengthen the suboptimal incumbent trajectory of large-scale mechanization. The third and fourth articles are specific cases of alternatives to current mechanization initiatives in the hillside region of Nepal: a review of the hand-held maize sheller in the third article, and in the fourth article, an assessment of ‘picture lessons’ used in agricultural extension with non-literate women and elderly smallholder farmers. These two cases provide evidence that users prefer small and cost-effective agricultural tools. The thesis concludes with a final summary of the research topic, conclusions and recommendations for further research and extension services that prioritize responsible innovation for mechanization and address gender issues in hillside farming in Nepal. 


Events Archive