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These compare value of crops produced per unit of land, managed by men and women
Why does Gender matter for agricultural productivity in Africa?
Why does gender matter for agricultural
productivity in Africa?
Cheryl Doss, University of Oxford
Agnes Quisumbing, IFPRI
Women are important in African agriculture—
but why is gender important?
• A high proportion of economically active women work in
agriculture (30-80%) AND the sector itself is important
• But gender ≠ women
• We are only beginning to understand how gender—the socially
constructed relationships, norms, roles, and identities among
women and men—underlies gender gaps in agricultural
• Gender is relevant to understand both agricultural productivity
Recent estimates of the gender gap illustrate its
importance but also measurement challenges
• FAO (2011): equalizing
resources of women and men
could increase yields on their
farms by 20–30 %percent
• LSMS-ISA (O’Sullivan 2014), 6
countries: yield gaps of 13-25%
• UN Women (2015): closing yield
gaps could increase annual
crop output by 2.1% (Tanzania),
2.8 % (Uganda), and 7.3%
But these estimates are piecemeal measures and
only look at productivity of land
• Comparisons of yields are based
on productivity per unit of land;
few estimates consider labor
• Lower labor productivity of women:
• Lower access to nonlabor inputs that
may enhance labor productivity.
• If activities are low-return, women
could be better off allocating their
• Do not take into account women’s
other uncompensated tasks
• Gross value of output better
than measuring single crops,
• Aggregation also introduces
• What if women produce “lower-
• Women may get lower prices
for the same crop in the market
Broader measurement challenges
• Accounting for jointly-managed
• Most analyses look at plots
managed solely by men or
women, but jointly-managed
plots are important
• Measuring livestock in addition
• Omission of women’s home
gardens because they are not
• Increasing women’s access to labor (particularly male labor)
• Increase value of crops grown by women
• Improving women farmers’ access to and use of nonlabor inputs
in agricultural production.
Increasing access to labor
• Enhance women’s use of technologies that save their time on and off
• Labor-saving devices (fuel-efficient stoves), access to water near the home
• Women may not necessarily spend more time in agriculture, but could shift
into home production activities or nonfarm income generating activities
• Improve access to hired labor, particularly men’s labor.
• Need to consider impacts of labor-saving technology on women:
must be easy to use, affordable, and culturally appropriate
Increasing value of crops grown by
• Supporting women in growing
higher- value cash crops
• Increasing women’s participation in
agricultural producer groups
• Improving access to markets
• Also: ensuring that women
maintain control of income as they
shift into high-value crops
Increasing women’s use of nonlabor
• Increase fertilizer and pesticide use by women
• Package fertilizer in small amounts
• Innovative delivery mechanisms: free delivery, information- and-
communication-based nudges using mobile phones, and cash and in-
kind transfers for input purchases, and reducing risk through social
protection schemes and crop insurance.
• Increase use of machinery
• Make sure machinery is culturally appropriate for women to use
• Ensure women have means to purchase or hire machinery.
What are we missing?
• Need to consider jointness in decision making
• Why only consider agricultural productivity? What about
reducing poverty? Improving health and nutrition?
• Are efforts to increase agricultural productivity consistent with
the goal of gender equality and women’s empowerment?
Is increasing agricultural productivity
• Increasing output on women’s fields, without considering their
access to markets and control over the income, may not
improve their well-being.
• Increasing work burden is disempowering
• Efforts to increase agricultural productivity must empower
women with access to information, resources, and the control
• Programs to increase agricultural productivity can help to
publicly recognize women’s contributions, by including them in
their programming and ensuring that women benefit from the