Supporting rural women to benefit from Agriculture


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Today is the first anniversary of the Journal of Gender, Agriculture and Food Security (AgriGender). What an incredible  year it has been! We continue to publish high quality, open access papers that document what works for supporting men and women in agriculture to achieve gender equality, and secure the food and nutrition security of their households, and the advancement of their communities.

This current issue is special as it focuses on some very key topics:  how to ensure women participate and benefit from agricultural value chains; how market development can be designed to support nutrition outcomes especially for children; and the opportunities and barriers to women’s participation in rural producer organizations.

Karolin Andersson, Johanna Bergman Lodin and Linley Chiwona-Karltun  from the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences explore the gender dynamics in cassava leaves value chains in Tanzania. They  find that women farmers are mainly responsible for harvesting and selling the leaves to brokers and wholesalers at farm gate. This is done on an ad hoc basis and for a low price. The low prices are due to a combination of factors including; a lack of market information and, lack of horizontal coordination and vertical integration. Women  reported being constrained by their reproductive responsibilities at home which prevents them from taking the leaves to market places themselves.  Improving the value chain through upgrading, access to information and technologies by women, and organizing them to better access markets is critical to ensuring their economic empowerment as well as ensuring these leaves contribute to nutrition.

Read the paper here

Lora Forsythe and Adrienne Martin  from the Natural Resources Institute in the United Kingdom and  Helena Posthumus from the Royal Tropical Institute in the Netherlands document women’s experiences in cassava commercialization in Nigeria and Malawi. They find that gender plays a significant role in these commercialization processes, as the factors which enable or constrain commercialization are influenced by household structure, bargaining power and gender norms. This is complicated further by the intersection with other factors of social difference such as ethnicity and age. These factors, in turn, determine which market value chains men and women can participate in and the benefits they obtain. Their results highlight various points at which women can participate and be excluded from commercialization, on the basis of their gender and bargaining power. However, trends within any one context can be contradictory and complex, with different spaces and opportunities that can empower or disempower women. The study poses additional questions for example how market interventions can be designed to enable women to increase and sustain their benefit from processing and marketing activities.

Read the paper here

Birhanu Megersa Lenjiso and Jeroen Smits of Radboud University, the Netherlands and Ruerd Ruben of Wageningen University analyse the relationship between participation in milk markets and  the nutritional status of young children in Ethiopia. The analysis reveals a direct relationship between household milk market participation, household and intra-household dietary diversity and nutritional status of young children. Milk market participating households have better dietary diversity scores than non-participating households. Children in market participant households have better dietary diversity and nutritional status compared to children from non-participant households. The authors conclude  that transforming the dairy sector from subsistence to a market oriented production system and integrating dairy farmers into the milk market has the potential to improve food security in rural Ethiopia.

Read the paper here

Susan Kaaria, Martha Osorio, Sophie Wagner and Ambra Gallina of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN analyse rural women’s participation in producer organizations to assess the barriers that women face and strategies to foster equitable and effective participation by women. The review identifies several factors as major barriers for women’s participation, including: socio-cultural norms; women’s double burden and triple roles; women’s status, age and previous membership in organizations; access to assets and resources; educational level; organizations’ rules of entry, and; legal and policy environment. The review identified strategies for strengthening women’s participation in producer organizations at the individual/household, community/producer organization, and policy level. At the individual/household level, strategies to improve individual capabilities and intra-household relations are crucial for promoting women’s participation and leadership in producer organizations.

Read the paper here 

Happy International Women’s Day 2016

Jemimah Njuki PhD, Editor in Chief