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Dear colleagues,

I am honored to launch the first phase of the online discussion: Feed Africa: Gender in the Transformation of Africa’s Agriculture. This critical online discussion will take place from 12 – 26 June and will address gender inequality in agricultural production. It will be hosted on the AfDB Gender in Practice Community of Practice (GiP CoP) platform.

Within the African context, agricultural transformation and women’s empowerment are inextricably linked. The agricultural sector in Africa is the largest employer of women; 62% of economically active women are working in the sector, while in countries such as Rwanda, Malawi and Burkina Faso, over 90% of economically active women are involved in agricultural activities.

Yet depending on the country, the rural wage gap between men and women in Africa is estimated at between 15-60%. In the case of Ivorian cocoa and Ethiopian coffee, for example, women provide 68% and 75% of the labour, respectively, but earn only earn 21% and 34% of the income generated.

Some studies have suggested that if women had the same access to land, technology, financial services, education and markets as men, agricultural production could be increased by 20 to 30 percent and the number of hungry people reduced by 100-150 million (FAO 2011). A recent study measuring the economic costs of the gender gap in agricultural productivity in Malawi, Tanzania and Uganda finds that closing this gender gap could lift as many as 238,000 people out of poverty in Malawi, 119,000 people in Uganda, and approximately 80,000 people in Tanzania every year.

Success in the achievement of poverty reduction and elimination of hunger as part of the Feed Africa strategy is dependent on a supply side approach whereby needs of both women and men are taken into account when designing and implementing interventions for the sector.

This phase of our discussion will explore questions such as:

  • How does the gender gap in agricultural productivity occur and why?
  • What is the role of agricultural research in bridging the gender gap?
  • What are the implications of this gender gap, especially for women in subsistence agriculture?
  • How have these realities been integrated into interventions and projects to reduce the gender gap in agricultural productivity and address the challenges of subsistence agriculture?
  • How should the Bank’s Feed Africa Strategy; through its flagship initiatives and programmes be used to reduce the gender gap in agricultural productivity and support a strong foundation for Africa’s agricultural transformation?
  • Which successful initiatives on improving women’s agricultural productivity could be scaled up by the AfDB?

You can participate in this discussion through either of the methods below:

All contributions submitted during the online discussion will be disseminated to all members and posted online. We encourage you to take part in this online discussion to examine challenges and devise solutions to tackle gender inequality in the agriculture sector.

We look forward to energized and thoughtful exchanges!


Wanjiru Kamau-Rutenberg PhD,
African Women in Agricultural Research (AWARD)

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 Chers collègues,

C’est avec honneur que je lance la première phase de la discussion en ligne : Nourrir l’Afrique : L’égalité entre les sexes et la transformation de l’agriculture en Afrique. Cette discussion importante aura lieu du 12 au 26 juin et abordera l'inégalité entre les sexes dans la production agricole. Elle se tiendra sur la plate-forme de la communauté de pratique GiP CoP de la BAD.

Dans le contexte africain, la transformation agricole et l'autonomisation des femmes sont inextricablement liées. Le secteur agricole en Afrique est le plus important employeur de femmes. En effet, 62% des femmes économiquement actives travaillent dans le secteur de l’agriculture, et dans des pays comme le Rwanda, le Malawi et le Burkina Faso, plus de 90% des femmes économiquement actives participent à des activités agricoles.

Pourtant, selon le pays, l'écart salarial rural entre les hommes et les femmes en Afrique est estimé entre 15 et 60%. Dans le cas du cacao ivoirien et du café éthiopien, par exemple, les femmes fournissent respectivement 68% et 75% du travail, mais gagnent seulement 21% et 34% du revenu généré.

Certaines études ont suggéré que si les femmes avaient le même accès à la terre, à la technologie, aux services financiers, à l'éducation et aux marchés que les hommes, la production agricole de l’Afrique pourrait être augmentée de 20 à 30 pour cent et le nombre de personnes affamées diminuerait de 100 à 150 millions (FAO 2011). Une étude récente évaluant les coûts économiques de l'écart entre les sexes dans la productivité agricole au Malawi, en Tanzanie et en Ouganda constate que la réduction de cet écart entre les sexes pourrait entraîner une réduction annuelle de la population pauvre à raison de 238,000 personnes au Malawi, 119,000 personnes en Ouganda et environ 80,000 personnes en Tanzanie. La réussite dans la réduction de la pauvreté et l'élimination de la faim dans le cadre de la Stratégie pour nourrir l’Afrique dépend d'une approche de l'offre alimentaire qui tient compte des besoins des acteurs féminins et masculins lors de la conception et de la mise en œuvre d'interventions pour le secteur.

Cette phase de notre discussion explorera des questions suivantes :

  • Comment la disparité entre les sexes dans la productivité agricole se produit-elle et pourquoi ?
  • Quel est le rôle de la recherche dans le domaine de l’agriculture dans la réduction de cette disparité entre les sexes ?
  • Quelles sont les implications de cet écart entre les sexes, en particulier pour les femmes dans l'agriculture de subsistance ?
  • Comment ces réalités sont-elles intégrées dans les interventions et les projets visant à réduire l'écart entre les sexes dans la productivité agricole et à relever les défis de l'agriculture de subsistance ?
  • Comment la BAD, à travers les initiatives et programmes phares de la Stratégie pour nourrir l'Afrique ; pourrait-elle réduire l'écart entre les sexes dans la productivité agricole et soutenir une base solide pour la transformation agricole de l'Afrique ?
  • Quelles initiatives réussies sur l’augmentation de la productivité agricole des femmes pourraient être amplifiées par la BAD ?

Vous pouvez participer à cette discussion par l'une des méthodes ci-dessous :

Nous vous encourageons à participer à cette discussion en ligne pour examiner les défis et concevoir des solutions pour lutter contre les inégalités entre les sexes dans le secteur de l'agriculture. Toutes les contributions soumises dans cette discussion seront diffusées à tous les membres et publiées en ligne.

J’attends avec intérêt nos échanges dynamiques sur ces questions !

Dr. Wanjiru Kamau-Rutenberg
Femmes africaines en recherche et développement agricole (AWARD)


NJERI NJAU's picture



Difficulty in access to credit facilities due to lack of security. Agriculture productivity is considered a high risk venture by many financiers especially for  women and youth because majority do not have assets which can act as security.

Limited innovations which would ease womens' and youth output at production level. Most of the work is manual and back breaking. This limits productivity potential for women and youth.

Mimimal knowledge on value addition aspects which have great potential for more income. Producers are forced to sell their produce at throw away prices due to the perishable nature.

Poor price bargaining skills. Brokers of fresh produce have a field day exploiting producers.


Women in Agriculture Research Rock!

Demba N's picture



Great point narrowing down to the need for better integration of such hindrances to women economic empowerment… I can tell we have the research and likely institutional readiness is in place to try out conclusive experiments that worked in Bengladesh, asia and Ethiopia not long ago. Here in Africa with help of ADB we can replicate the principle while adjusting local adaptation to women’s socioeconomic fabric for better economic empowerment and resilience.

As we speak, under WAAPP Mali local innovation platform financing launched a couple of months ago is sought to addressing such key areas of constraints in gender economic solvency and empowerment which surely once properly addressed can make the difference in productivity and income generation impetus.

At this point since most WAAPP projects have gained and demonstrated evidence for the need to further assist women and youth input to agricultural productivity, it’s truly important that ADB review feasibility of such takeover ASAP. In doing so actors like you Njeri, and I, MUST be further documenting and sharing success stories of such scenarios where lack of continuous support and outreach are detrimental to the whole…

Dear Njeri Njau,

Regarding "Producers are forced to sell their produce at throw away prices due to the perishable nature": the way out is providing appropriate techniques or technologies (like refrigerator, fridge) to them. If don't have access to electricity, providing its access is crucial.

Regarding "Poor price bargaining skills. Brokers of fresh produce have a field day exploiting producers": cooperatives are an important way out to this, led by women and whose governance is for their empowerment.

Best regards,




My contributions focus on four questions as outlined below.

How does the gender gap in agricultural productivity occur and why?

The gender gap occurs as a result of women under-representation in decision making and political processes. It is therefore important to look at and understand how gender differences in power within formal decision-making structures (such as governments, policy-making institutions, and community structures) are framed. Given the under-representation of women and the low visibility of women’s perspectives, the fact that women often have different priorities, needs and interests than men is often not apparent.

The importance of incorporating gender sensitive data collection cannot be overemphasized as the information from the data will help to improve planning and decision making for the project. In this case then gender gaps occur as many times projects have a loosely defined impact-outcome-output-activity results framework mapping concrete activities that would address gender issues. The logic between the results could be improved by a clear cause effect or results flow analysis that takes cognizant of gender.

What is the role of agricultural research in bridging the gender gap?

Research would contribute to information generation regarding gendered issues such as family power relations, household dynamics, decision making arrangements, access and control to various types of resources, intergenerational dynamics, underlying causes of violence within a family; differential needs, aspirations and perceptions of women and men, boys and girls. In addition, research would help to unveil the underlying gendered reasons behind each issue, understanding the gender differentials in economic, social, and cultural terms, identifying the opportunities and constraints or even seeking voices of stakeholders and target groups in identifying relevant problem areas.


How should the Bank’s Feed Africa Strategy; through its flagship initiatives and programmes be used to reduce the gender gap in agricultural productivity and support a strong foundation for Africa’s agricultural transformation?

The Banks Feed Africa should consider adopting holistic Gender Transformative (GTA) approach  in programming. Such an integrated (GTA) approach would help achieve gender results and accelerate progress better, through coordinated initiatives and synergy, internally within the Bank and externally with partners and other stakeholders. In addition, the Bank should consider formulating a coordinated gender work plan, putting together initiatives taken by all thematic areas within the strategy; identify areas of commonalities in terms of intervention to make them gender-responsive; Work out a synergized strategy and identify areas of analysis and expertise needed; organize regular and systematic capacity building on required areas and strengthen monitoring and evaluation to measure gender impacts. 


Which successful initiatives on improving women’s agricultural productivity could be scaled up by the AfDB?

While economic empowerment programmes where women are dominant are implemented, women still continue to face problems related to culture, access to finances and other services in the agriculture sector. It is inevitable that qualitative indicators as well as quantitative indicators relating to visible changes at community level should be developed together with target groups and other stakeholders to track progress on improving women’s productivity. Undertaken gender-specific empowerment activities with full integration of gender and diversity across all programme and project activities and internal operations.

The AfDB should consider to design and conduct ongoing gender training and more informal gender action learning discussions to improve staff gender capacity, learn what works, and develop a sense of ownership that gender matters to them. Collect gender- and diversity-sensitive indicators regularly during monitoring and evaluation. Qualitative indicators are valuable to measure the informal dimensions of change in gendered power relations.  

In project documentation in particular progress reports and Aide memoires, a track record of changes to gender on a regular and consistent basis to improve project interventions for women’s empowerment and gender equality should be done. Innovative participatory tools might include write shop techniques to engage staff in capturing stories of change to engage beneficiaries and staff to identify the most important factors contributing to change.



Asimenye Chitika's picture



Some cultural beliefs also enhance this gender gap becuse they place limits on what women can/cannot do and the same for men.  the implications of the gender gap especially for women in subsistence agriculture is that they would resist change since they are bound by culture, thus business as usual will reign in such circumstances. Agriculture research will bridge this gap by facilitating information sharing on the linkage between culture  and gender gaps and why we need the gaps filled in order to enhance agricultural productivity. New information will also help the subsistence farmers to think beyond subsistence and begin to embrace other opportunities that agriculture brings such as farming as a business.


Bernadette Chiwona's picture



I would like to second Asimenye that cultural beliefs enhance gender gap because the man is mostly considered the head of the family and women will shy away to take part in agricultural practices, they feel it is the man who is considered to do agricultural practices especially on large scale basis.

Lizzy Igbine's picture



Gender equality has come to stay.
Agriculture transformation aims to progress and enrich the population. Gender equality which encourages women participation should be focused on. Women have from the begining been the back bone and burden bearers in Agriculture, the statictics are there.

It then behoves the present arrangements in transformation of Africa's agriculture to be inclusive and transform women lives and busineses along the value chains.

I will share more details later.


Abigael Takaendesa Mgugu Mhene's picture



The role of women in agriculture can never be emphasised but the gap that exists in due to a number of issues one of them being lack of secure tenure to land. until women have security of tenure to the land that they use, agricultural transformation will remain a dream in Africa. security of tenure does not necessarily mean free hold title but can be either a secure lease document, security under customary tenure arrangments. we need to take cognisance of the fact that the majority of female small holder farmers have access to land under customary systems and it is important that these systmes need to be given the same status as other tenure systems  with secure tenure, women will be able to access resources that are fundamental to agricultural transformation.

access to extension services is another issue that require urgent attention so that women can paly their meaningful role in transforming agriculture in africa and closing the gender gap. extension services as well as research information that will be unpacked and repackaged for the consumption of female farmers the majority of whom have little education is another area that will close the gender gap in agriculture..

the land issue need to be dealt with very high levels on the continent and it is important that a protocol on women's land rights in Africa be mooted by the Africa Union Commission, this will provide guidance to the member states to address the rights of women to land. member states have different laws and policies governing women's land rights yet the use of land by women for agriculture is uniform, subsistence rain fed agriculture. women need to move from subsistence to commercial agriculture to close the gender gap

Abigael Takaendesa Mgugu Mhene
Women and Resources in Eastern and Southern Africa (WARESA)
34 Msuzi Road. Woodlands,
Lusaka Zambia



Dear Abigael,

Totally agree with you about secure tenure of land. Technology can only address problems in which it is an important answer, but cannot solve issues such as the point you mentioned that is structural in keeping the opressive status quo. Another example is access to new markets: local, regional and national companies can slash the new entrants as quick and easy as a blink of an eye.

Best regards,


Demba N's picture

As in most scenarios at community level, when stakeholders gather to dilate on such a sensitive issue as land access it's important to address the intergenerational dimension of land access, use and transfer with the ones who are likely the most skilled within the family, the community, to actually "use" it...

In other words if proper outreach and communication sessions were conducted at every community hub and decisionmaking level, when stakeholders understand the dynamics around land use and allocation for sake of community preservation, access would become less of a concern as long as it can yield to common benefits...

The Bank could help in securing such community settings where stakeholders are explained the basics of community resilience as a whole upon which their survival depends on... Value should be perceived, collective value per say, such that can transcend individualities and gender specific roles to make it a viable option at community level.

Change is sought, expected, and encouraged all over in Africa, at a time when Land Grab has affected nearly 30% of our arable lands... Leadership must step in... and that's the Challenge we expect the Bank to take to help Africa save its lands and community values around gender.



The gender gap in agriculture is an interesting phenomenon and more interesting is the process through which it occurs! Agriculture in Africa is an activity traditionally carried out in the rural areas. These are the areas within which cultural norms still heavily thrive and indeed the pressure to conform places limitations on the individual given the closely-knit nature of rural societies. Agricultural practices therefore are not completely independent of the effect of cultural norms and practices. Worse still, patriarchy has been alive and well in many a rural community in Africa and it is no surprise finding it not only rearing its head but rather standing tall within the agricultural systems! It is amazing how when one is asked to have a gender sensitive project, a few women are 'sprinkled' here and there to get the project started. In several cases as the project takes root, the women tend to vaporize and soon another project will be conceived in the name of helping the women!

A closer look at the gender gap reveals a self-sustaining, if not self-reproducing phenomenon! It has attached itself to the societies’ culture and as such, is just as dynamic as the culture itself. A brief review of the normal human socialization process reveals a pattern! Right from birth, babies of either sex are treated differently, induced into their gender roles and trained to behave as per the social norms that guide each gender! In this subtle way, gender roles become second nature- a natural way through which members of a community socialize! As the boys are trained to 'go for it' and man up to situations, the girls are taught to show vulnerability and the need for help! This induces a gap in the way the two sides respond not only to challenges but also to opportunities! Little wonder, the older they get, the wider the gap and the more pronounced the difference in roles they finally take up in society. The gender gap therefore, is not something that suddenly happens to men and women but rather something they are induced into right from birth, socialize into and grow up with! 


Demba N's picture



"The gender gap ...is not something that suddenly happens to men and women but rather something they are induced into right from birth, socialize into and grow up with!" meaning that to undo it there must be some outreach and communication conducted in a way that can instill new paradigm shift on the premise of a better outcome in the scale of inclusive growth.



One of challenge that women face in the Agriculture is sector is lack of access to markets. Women unable to reach agricultural markets due to lack of transport, lack of access to pricing information, low literacy levels among the women and also lack of price negotiation skills. The other gender gap is lack of access to credit facilities. Women especially those from the rural areas do lack access to credit due poor access to information and marketing structures. Lack of viable collateral is another reason why women have poor access to credit facilities.


Yinka Adesola's picture



Women in agriculture are in a men dominated territory because agriculture is believe to be the men's affair.

Due to this believe, tools and equipment in agriculture are mainly designed for men to use.

Statistics however show that there are more women in several fields of agriculture in this age.

And the biggest hindrance now come from not having the appropriate tool to use in the farm.

Starting from land clearing and tilling the soils, its time to abandon the hoes and cutlass.

Its back breaking and tedious. It takes a lot of time working on a small spot. It discourage women from venturing into the farm.

Hoes and cutlass can be replaced with tillers, weed cutters and grass slashers that are affordable.

Putting in mind that the target audience are small holder farmers who live below $2 per day.

Having access to better tools will not only increase production but will also encourage more women to participate in farming leading to sustainability.

In Africa, majority of our crop are grown in the rainy season using the effects of rainfall.

Every house hold plant and harvest at the same time thereby leading to gluts in the market.

This gives rise to the need for either a storage system or a preserving system.

Most food crop can be preserved by drying.

Considering that 80% of rural dwellers are either not connected to the power grid or have less than an average of 2hrs electricity per day.

One solution to consider will be solar. 

Africa sure have between 5- 8 hours of sunlight per day. 

Women in Agriculture will be encouraged if they can have access to solar drying system that will help preserve the surplus at harvest.

This will help them save the produce for a later date for better cash to improve the status 

We do understand there is a huge gap between innovation and adoption.

The innovations are not getting to the rural dwellers that needs it. Researchers and fabricators work are mainly shown in videos and projectors.

How do women access this information?

How do they know the next improved tools if its not taken to them?

Coming up with research and innovations will not solve the problem of women in agriculture if the resources did not get to the right place for proper usage. 


Dear Yinka Adesola,

I am delighted by your thoughts. I think grassroot innovations for such tools to suit women needs very important. Share such innovations and traditional knowledge is alo important. There is a permanent and persistent initiative on grassroot innovation in India that is worthnoting if you haven't heard about: the Honeybee Network. 

Women must be protagonists of technology generation; technology selection and technology adoption. Not only users, but in the process of innovation and decisioon-making of which technologies to choose and deploy.

Best regards,


Yinka Adesola's picture



Gender gap in Agriculture occurs because it's generally believed that men are the ones involved in agriculture.

Right from ages in Africa, agriculture is a man's foray. Women only stay at home to prepare food for the family.

Our fathers' also take women to farm only when they want to harvest. Or when they need extra hand in the farm to carry load.

The gender gap has been there for years.

But gradually women have started to become the bread winners of the family and playing more than supportive role.  

Women are now having their own farm, they do the main farming work, shelling, processing etc. But the old methods and general belief that men are the ones who work in agriculture never ceize. 


Yinka Adesola's picture



The implication of the gender gap is that women are excluded in the majority of the agricultural research and projects that are laid out to improve agriculture.

  • Talking of tools and equipment
  • Financial supports
  • Incubation centres
  • Training and technological knowledge impact
  • Social welfare etc
  • Network support 

Majority of what is done here is provided for men and not women because its generally believed that women are not in agriculture. 



Yinka Adesola's picture



In response to question about successful initiatives, I would not be wrong if I say that as a farmer and a farmer trainer that work with over 500 farmers among which 40 are female, I have not felt or heard of the genderinpractise CoP, nor the AFDB nor their work in our own part of the universe called Nigeria.

Yes. We know there is AFDB and our former minister of agriculture in the person of Dr Akinwumi Adeshina is the president.

The main point for us is how and in what way can our farmers' group that toil and work to produce every day be assisted with appropriate tools and techniques in the farm.

Our farmers group can be found on www.facebook.com/entrepreneuryouthmultipurposecooperative


Juliana Mandha's picture



Despite the fact that agriculture is an important sector in Uganda, contributing about 23% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and employing more than 80% of the population, our economy is not performing according to expectations

This may be an indicator that there is more that is needed than just food production. In leadership roles, fewer women than men are sitting at the decision-making tables. These ae managerial positions of agricultural enterprises and/or policy makers on the laws, regulations or policies that govern trade, agriculture, or agricultural products. These key positions have a huge capacity of transforming food produce into profits through infrastructure, trade tariffs, marketing at an international or national level, industrial processing, and preservation and building of partnerships.

Juliana Mandha
Food scientist with special interest in Nutrition

Dear Juliana Mandha,

I do not know anything about Uganda, but your post made me wonder the same question I make myself in my own country: is agriculture policy mainly a pro-poor policy? Or are the efforts (and resources) mainly directed to the big land owners and producers?

Best regards,




The gender gap is deeply entrenched in the agricultural systems and manifests in several forms and these are only but, the tip of the iceberg. Agricultural systems like any other system are guided by institutions; North (1990) defines institutions as the rules of the game in a society or, the humanly devised constraints that shape human interaction and further argues that institutions structure incentives in human exchange whether political, social or economic. Certainly, the gender gap shows how the agricultural system seems more inclined to reward one side of the gender divide. Acemoglu et al (2005) in examining institutions as a fundamental cause of long run growth observe that institutions are endogenous and as such are determined by society or, by a segment of it. Acemoglu et al (2005) further adds that economic institutions shape the incentives of key economic actors and specifically influence investment in human and physical capital, technology, and the organization of production.


A lot of effort has been committed to not only understanding the gender gap in agriculture but also addressing it. Nonetheless, the institutions within the agricultural system, being dynamic in nature have learned to adapt in order to perpetuate the gender gap. What seems evident is that efforts to address the gender gap are oftentimes directed at the problem from the level of established agricultural actors- this is the older generation part of society and the interactions at this level only represent one stage of the problem. Reaching to the bottom of the problem will require targeting younger generations- or even a cross-generational approach. In any case, addressing the gender gap problem cannot be looked at as some PG-rated system focusing on segments of society- a massive overhaul of the system will need to touch at the very core of social, political and economic institutions which shape not just human interactions but also production and resource distribution.


Society in part, left to its own devices cannot be expected to address the gender gap problem. The section of society benefiting from persistence of this gap certainly finds no incentives in closing the gap. Why? One might ask. The commitment problem seems to provide a solid response to this one-word question. Those achieving greater benefits cannot commit to not using their power to change the distribution of resources in their favor. Partial interventions to address the problem are met with well-established institutions within which the default outcome of resource distribution and production in part entails a gender-gap.


The women in subsistence agriculture, which is said to form the backbone of a clear majority of Sub-Saharan nations have come to accept the gender gap as part of their fate- if not, the norms passed on from the older generation. The implications of the gender gap can be heart wrenching when examined over the life-cycle of the woman. With the lower incomes that are increasingly insecure, the women save less and less over time and as such are left with little or nothing to show for their years of toil when they reach the ‘golden’ years! Worse still, women are known to spend more of their earnings on the education and health of their children during their years of productivity. This erodes on whatever they could have saved for their later years. The subsistence agricultural sub-sector in Africa has not been incorporated into the national pension schemes and therefore the senior citizens from this sector can only hope “tomorrow will take care of itself”. For the women in the sector, their worries stretch from uncertainty about their future to a place of residence in old age. Patriarchy argues that she can no longer belong to her old home if she is married, yet she may not be welcome in her husband’s home once he passes on! Her only hope is that her husband will live long, or her son will take care of her in old age.


The gender gap also implies that more older women are left in the care of society. This though, is defined as a role for the women within the society and thus increasing the burden of care that the women have to bear. Her resources- both time and income are thus stretched thin to cover all that has been left under her care. The women in the subsistence sector are therefore caught in the vicious cycle of not just income poverty but also time poverty- it is a ‘catch-22’ for her!


Women in the subsistence sector earn less than the men within the same sector. There is however a need for better production methods within the sector which require more resources. With their earnings much lower, their responsibilities greater, the women are usually unable to afford better farming methods that guarantee higher production. They are left behind when technologies are introduced especially where they cannot afford these technologies. Where the technologies are provided free-of-charge initially, they have to discontinue use once a cost arises in the application of these technologies. They are thus trapped in a sub-optimal production equilibrium and reduced to production for basic subsistence. This though is not the ultimate bottom-low for the women but rather, they oftentimes transition from basic subsistence to vulnerability in the event of any shocks or stress to the production system.


The gender gap therefore does not necessarily grant society a desirable outcome; it holds back a segment of society and since a chain is said to be only as strong as its weakest link; if society is a chain and women are part of that chain, the weak position of the women will certainly translate into a weaker society!


Demba N's picture



Good evening sisters, this is your time and your momentum to come forward with the wisdom bestowed in each one of you to help address our food and nutrition challenges in Africa... For the last 15 to 35 years in Development, women contribution to such food and nutrition have always been bold albeit undocumented in terms of net contribution to overall productivity gains. Now new metrics and M&E techniques have emerged to better help in aggregate data traceability, it becomes OBVIOUS that indeed following our Mali experiments, and likely within its surrounding 7 frontiered'countries, women with same access to land, technology, financial services, education and markets as men, is sought to boosting agricultural production above 30% whilst better addressing nutrition issues at home. I'm a true believer of such perspectives in a sense they have been the missing pieces of the whole development rhetoric of the lost decades of development in the 60s 70s...

Germain DOSSOU's picture

Bonjour chers tous et chères toutes,

Le sujet de la discussion est très intéressant et les échanges seront fructueux sans doute. Moi on m'appelle Germain DOSSOU, Coordonnateur de l'Association Nationale des Femmes agricultrices du Bénin (ANaF-BENIN). L'égalité de genre dans la la transformation de l'agriculture en Afrique est un thème qui mérite beaucoup d'analyses afin de trouver des approches de solutions aux problèmes d'inégalités de genre que nous observons sur les chaînes de valeur agricole.

Je reviendrai donner mon opinion sur le sujet de la phase 1.

Germain M. DOSSOU
Expert en genre et développement
Coordonnateur ANaF-BENIN
Tél: 00229 97025285
Email: domeger2002@yahoo.fr

Demba N's picture



Bonsoir Chères sœurs, c'est bien votre temps et votre moment unique pour avancer, avec la sagesse et la retenue qui vous sont connues, pour aider à relever nos défis alimentaires et nutritionnels en Afrique...

Au cours des 15 à 35 dernières années dans le domaine du développement, la contribution des femmes à ces domaines de l’alimentation et la nutrition a toujours été forte, bien que non documentée en termes de contribution nette aux gains de productivité cumulée. Maintenant, que de nouvelles métriques et des techniques de Suivi & Evaluation ont émergé pour mieux aider à la traçabilité des données statistiques globales, il est CLAIR, en effet, suivant nos expériences par ça et là au Mali et probablement dans nos 7 pays frontaliers environnants (du Mali), les femmes ayant le même accès à la terre, à la technologie, aux services financiers, à l'éducation et aux marchés comme les hommes, sont bien en mesure de stimuler la production agricole au-delà de 30%, tout en répondant mieux aux problèmes de nutrition dans leurs foyers.

Je suis véritablement convaincu de telles perspectives plaçant le Genre, nos braves Femmes, au cœur du processus, sachant que de telles considérations ont été les éléments manquants de toute la rhétorique des décennies perdues du développement dans les années 60 et 70 au-delà.



The gender gap in agricultural productivity occurs because in under developed countries, women are naturally marginalised. We all need to stand up and take steps to avert this.

Demba N's picture




En effet, de 11%, la BAD pourrait accroitre le rôle du genre dans la transformation de l'agriculture africaine... L’expérience des leçons apprises dans le WAAPP-PPAAO au Mali pourrait, par exemple, s’inspirer du potentiel du Centre d'excellence du riz dans la région de Ségou pour en faire un mécanisme d'intégration régionale apte à substituer les importations régionales de riz, qui représentent des milliard de dollars, et ce faisant aider à développer les synergies au sein de la chaîne de valeur de la culture du riz au Mali et dans ses 7 pays environnants ...


Indeed, from 11% ABD could scale up Gender in transformation of Africa's Agriculture... Building from lessons learnt across WAAPP-PPAAO in Mali for instance could leverage the Rice Center Of Excellence in Segou region into a regional integration mechanism worth substituting regional imports of rice, amounting to billions of dollars, and help support synergies within the rice cultivation value chain in Mali and across its 7 surrounding countries...Enough evidence based outcome for regional financing mechanisms to take over

Asimenye Chitika's picture

Awareness campaigns

On the role that culture plays in widening the gender gap at grassroots level,where the custodians of culture has proven to help. I know of a case on access to land for farmers where awareness campaigns on how some cultural beliefs that hinder women's access to land for farming keep them affects their right to food has worked out. On the other hand empowering women with knowledge on how they can speak out against such cultural beliefs, advocating for them to be included in decision making structures so that they can participate in decision making and also empowering them with skills that will enable them to stand on their own or contribute to the income streams at household level have also proved to be working out. 




Gender gap has greatly affected agricultural productivity. Agriculture is the only means through which feeding is assured. 

It is well known that women especially in less developed countries are farmers. However, they are the least beneficiaries of farming and agriculture at large. Agricultural research has a huge role to play in bridging the gender gap. How about innovative research that are human friendly? A lot of times I have thought in the area of product development of farm produce. This is more woman friendly and greatly obtainable in the area of value added products. A boost in agricultural research in this area will go a good length in bridging this gap. Newly developed research methodologies in formulation of value added products such as confectioneries can be thought to women to help foster their finances. Thus agricultural research in certain areas that are women friendly is a good stride towards bridging this gap.



Les femmes africaines, pendant plusieurs décennies ont été victimes de plusieurs pesanteurs socio-culturelles qui ne leur permettaient d'avoir accès à la terre. Ces situations ont créée des disparités considérables entre les hommes et les femmes dans la production agricole.

Les droits fonciers des femmes sont indispensables pour la promotion des femmes, mais aussi pour le développement du continent africain.

Plusieurs recherches ont été faites dans le domaines de l'agriculture afin de :

  • Mener des discussions en s'appuyant sur les informations relatives sur l'état de nouvelles connaissances qui impactent les droits des femmes productrices;
  • procéder aux études de cas et aux témoignages;
  • recenser de nouvelles idées afin de faire avancer à travers des actions concertées entre les différentes réactions à travers le monde etc....

L'écart de la production entre les hommes et les femmes entraîne des effets néfastes sur la sécurité alimentaire. Une meilleure compréhension des questions liées aux droits fonciers de la femme pourra permettre une production à grande échelle par les femmes, des cultures de subsistance.

Investir dans la promotion des femmes agricultrices est essentiel au développement en termes de sécurité alimentaire et de croissance alimentaire. Raison pour laquelle il sera mise en oeuvre PAR LE PROJET IFDC/C4CP -USAID par la Communauté des praticiens du Genre, le Coton et la sécurité alimentaire,  le premier "Centre d'Incubation" pour le coton biologique au Bénin dans la commune de Kandi, arrondissement de KASSAKOU. Il interviendra sur trois axes à savoir :

  1. l'accroissement durable de la productivité agricole;
  2. le développement de partenariat avec les institutions nationales et régionales du secteur coton et les cultures de rotation;
  3. l'augmentation des avantages économiques et sociaux des femmes productrices de coton et des ménages producteurs de coton.

Comme exemple, l'IFDC et l'équipe du projet C4CP -USAID  ont entrepris un véritable effort pour développer des partenariats stratégiques capables de faire entendre la voix des femmes dans le secteur cotonnier et les cultures de rotation.

La Banque Africaine de développement joue un rôle important à travers les initiatives et programmes phares pour nourrir l'Afrique, raison pour laquelle la Communauté des Praticiens du Genre, le coton et la sécurité de l'IFDC/C4CP - USAID se positionne pour des partages d'expériences pour aider les productrices et agricultrices de l'Afrique pour leur autonomisation économiques et sociales

Marie-Laurence SRANON

Point Focal Communauté des Praticiens - BENIN

Ancien Ministre - Consultante-Experte (0022997226896)

ANCIEN Ministre

Demba N's picture



Excellent plaidoyer, pour avoir eu a sieger dans des foras similaires... En effet les resultats de recherche-developpement sont la et tout ce qui reste c'est bien le maillage de l'ensemble de ces embryons de succes collectifs pour mieux rendre a la femme rurale son role d'agent de developpement...



Une bonne prise de conscience par rapport aux actions à faire pour renforcer les capacités et les efforts des femmes dans le secteurs agricole ne peux être efficace sans l'implication de ses femmes même. Des séances de travail avec et pour ces aideront beaucoup à mettre en place des stratégies effectives et réalistes.

Germain DOSSOU's picture



Je suis d'avis qu'il faut que les actions d'empowerment soient toujours faire avec les concernées elles-même car un adage dit "tout ce qui est fait pour moi sans moi est contre moi".

Germain M. DOSSOU
Expert en genre et développement
Coordonnateur ANaF-BENIN
Tél: 00229 97025285
Email: domeger2002@yahoo.fr



Agricultural research broadly defined as any research activity targeted at improving productivity and quality of crops and, the management of agricultural resources provides a scientific way of examining the agricultural sector. While some would have argued that the gender gap in agriculture is possibly a “suspicion” held by a few enthusiastic feminists, agricultural research provides an evidence based process which alleys both fears and suspicion across scientists with different ideologies.  

Research provides a time-tested method of problem analysis. It is essential in the diagnosis of the gender gap; bringing to light the root cause and the extent of the problem. Specifically, research in both its qualitative and quantitative dimension is key in understanding of the gender gap problem. Quantitative research is of great use in putting a face, voice and humanness to the gender gap while the quantitative research dimension is of essence in understanding the numeric value of the gender gap and its subsequent effects. Holistically, research provides a framework for scientific communication across different disciplines. The multidisciplinary approach in communication that research is able to achieve helps raise awareness about the gender gap across several platforms which would have otherwise been a tedious task or possibly resulted in a bickering spree across those that hold conflicting views on the subject.

Agricultural research also provides a platform for the testing of possible courses of action in addressing the gender gap. Strategies targeted at closing the gap such as new technologies can be tested at a small scale and later scaled out if initial results prove promising in achieving the desirable result. This enables key stakeholders to assess progress and re-think strategies, should the need arise. Further still, what works for one community may not necessarily work for another. Without research, observing such disparities would be next to impossible and blanket recommendations would possibly result in some embarrassing outcomes.

All in all, agricultural research provides a framework not only for the diagnosis of, but also for the appropriate management and “treatment’’ of the gender gap!



Madalitso Chidumu's picture



The issue of gender gaps in Agricultural production has been debated for decade now, however the gaps are still existing which demands further research. Indeed women lack financing, have limited land , limited access to technology etc. However, if these elements have been provided for a woman, there is still an issue of money usage that comes in. There have been intervations to increase access to capital for women, or technology but after increasing that production, who pockets the money. In some instances after the woman has sweated to produce, it is the man who takes the produce to the market. Still putting the woman at a disadvantage. Gender Based violence most people have related them with just physical abuse, however even the way money is being utilised or handled at a household is also one example. My suggestion is that, there is need to have a multidisciplinary and an intergrated approach in dealing with gender gaps in agriculture. A woman exist in an ecological zone where family and community have a greater influence on her life, her decision making etc. So using the ecological model intervations to build the gender gap should also come in that form. While the woman in the center, also consider what support can the familly give to build the gap, or what support can the community give or policy environment inorder to build the gender gap.

Madalitso Chidumu (2014 AWARD fellow)
Farmer & Founder of Impact AIIC



How does the gender gap in agricultural productivity occur and why?

Gender gap occur in agricultural productivity because there are consistent gender disparities in access to and benefits from agricultural proceeds and assets such as tangible and non-tangible agricultural assets such as land, new agricultural technologies and are less likely to use agricultural inputs. This is because of lack of money to access assets such as non-family land. These constraints set limitations on the depth of involvement of women in agricultural production and practices. Men made decisions on the allocation of type of land, type of crops to grow and could easily reclaim land given to spouses especially if such land is seen to be very fertile. There is power imbalance in decision making over assets the agricultural household perpetrated by culture, local customs and religion beliefs where women are seen as supportive farm hands (not recognized as ‘serious’ farmers), providing cheap agricultural family labour with little or no remuneration. The identity of who a farmer is by researchers, agricultural extension agents and farmers themselves constitutes wrong interpretation of gender to be a feminist concept and therefore misinterpretation on who constitute, who should benefit or can be identified as a farmer is positively skewed to men.

Ownership and control of agricultural assets is positively skewed to men who make final decisions on assets owned by women and those jointly owned due to culture, inability to be formally educated (women) and religion misinterpretations.

Women are considered as economic asset by spouse in farm households and only have right of use and negotiation privileges over agricultural assets and give most credence to the household heads (men). Societal expectations and beliefs is that a woman admitting and ceding ownership and control of resources to her spouse is securing the future of her children (male) who will later inherit the agricultural assets. Men have access to extension services on crops that have economic and commercial importance and women have access to information on domestic issues. Men owned mechanized farm implements and women owned simple and local implements such as hoes and cutlasses.

Continued promotion of subsistence agriculture for women famers in African regions is giving wrong impression that smallholder farmers of which women are in the majority is wrong and perpetrating poverty and feeling of helplessness. Most times, agricultural extension messages are packaged with different contents for men and women. Men are particularly taught on cash crops and women on food crops. Women are mostly not given options to choose preferred crops to cultivate. Also, women farmers do not benefit fully from existing channels for technology dissemination particularly when access to these channels conflict with their household responsibilities.

There is little resultant change or support from the mainstream agricultural advisory services for women compared to the gender specific agricultural services received by men. The need to develop suitable extension services that is gender specific and tailored to women farmers cannot be over emphasized. Success stories of women farmers who have used their environmental conditions to overcome poverty are rarely captured or documented. These players are not given incentives at the grassroots to share their success stories and mentor other smallholder farmers.

Women’s role in agriculture has increased but they have strong constraint to develop into large scale production or key totally into and benefit maximally from opportunities that agricultural formalized markets offer. Over the last few decades, women have broadened and deepened their involvement in agriculture in many developing countries. They increasingly shoulder the responsibility for household survival and respond to economic opportunities in commercial agriculture with many constraints. This happens as rapid changes in the agricultural sector in many parts of the world makes smallholder production less viable and men therefore to a high degree, migrate into other sectors and away from the rural areas, leaving women to take responsibility for the farms and take over also men’s tasks such as land preparation and cash crop production. However, as this is happening and changing the roles of women in agriculture rapidly; there have been almost no changes in the women’s access to agricultural services, credits, inputs and technologies and the result is therefore re-enforcing the problems of low productivity and difficulty in producing adequate food on the smallholder farms.

There is gender gap in participation in and benefits from agricultural markets. Though, women participate in agricultural markets, they are more prominent in the local and informal markets where prices of agricultural produce are controlled and dictate by market forces. The volume of traded goods at local and doorsteps markets are not large enough to make meaningful impact for women compared to the volume of sale made by their male counterparts who have better access to information on prices and marketing systems through their intensive marketing networks in formal and contractual markets at domestic, regional and international markets where prices are stable, better negotiated and formalized. Women also lack important information on prices for marketing systems which is often provided by extension agents who have little more interactions with men more than women.

Again, men and women are impacted differently by technologies and other interventions: Many agricultural projects still fail to consider the basic questions of differences in the resources, status of men and women, their roles and responsibilities and the potential impacts of interventions on these. Often there is an assumption that as long as there are improved technologies or interventions, they will benefit men and women equally when in fact they are usually not. Men and women are also impacted differently by and have a role to play in managing emerging threats, shocks and seasonality such as climate change, family members getting sick and women need to stay back to nurse them to good health rather than working in their farms and urban-rural migration that takes men away from farming to a more formal and diversified incoming generating livelihood opportunities (this leaves women to be overworked and heavily burdened with multi-tasks on and off-farm to cater for the household alone)that may result into backlash for women and others.

Also, men are not seen as strong and partners for advocacy or those who will start challenging societal orthodoxies in gender gap. They are presently seen as strange bed fellows. It is not enough to empower women, the question at the back of our minds is to ask that who owns and controls the owner of the wallet (in African context), are men involved, considered and carried along at the grass roots to help narrow gender gap?! This consideration could mean a win-win situation for projects and interventions where transformative approach of players playing together and proffering answers to how problems can be solved is ensured.

    Demba N's picture



    Transformation of Africa’s Agriculture has a lot to do with reversing, shifting and transforming the full spectrum of common perception of key drivers of development rationale… For being an oral traditional society in most instances, it would take non-conventional approaches to harness women’ outstanding contribution to development… Communication for Development in this regard may help bring forth the seeding ground for such a shift taking place.

    Even in Europe and Americas where race and gender remains big chunks of their domestic integration agenda, over decades, it took bold stances and institutional leveraging to bring forth the well-known ethnic, racial and gender difference in the forefront of social agenda and public debate…

    In Africa once spearheaded by domestic regional financial institutions, one can remain optimistic that for the longest time, at last we’re on the driver’s seat in modeling, shaping and redefining endogenous development agenda… Structural Adjustment Programs remain the most teachable moment that development practitioners will have to remember so as to never endure imported theories of development practice… For real!

    Marie Rarieya's picture



    Integration of gender perspectives in research and innovation are essential in providing an up-to-date understanding of gender issues and complexities in agriculture. Men and women, boys and girls typically play differentiated roles in food systems and within the household. These differences vary widely within the African context. Integration of gender perspectives in research and innovation involves identifying and then addressing gender differences and inequalities during program or activity design, implementation, monitoring, and evaluation. Gender analysis can be done at three level: Macro, meso and micro levels. At Macro level, we may be interested in examining how norms and values regarding gender roles have influenced the regulations and legislation around key issues such as labor, access to resources—land tenure (inheritance law, etc.), market demand (local, national, international).

    Marie Rarieya, PhD
    Vice President, Capacity Strengthening & Professional Development
    International Centre for Evaluation and Development
    Tel: +254 (0)791-495-599
    Website: www.ICED-eval.org

    Marie Rarieya's picture



    What is the role of agricultural research in bridging the gender gap?

    To what extent are both women and men, boys and girls, and people with disabilities seen as agents of change for sustainable agricultural transformation in the Africa African. In my view, well-crafted research and data collection tools and data analysis has the potential to potential to answer this question. Ensuring that gender issues are taken into consideration in agricultural value chain interventions (from production, processioning, and distribution to consumption) is vital for facilitating the development of inclusive value chains that benefit both women and men and girls and boys. We need to pay particular attention to the specificities of particular groups of women, girls, men and boys in food systems. Key areas of gender concerns at the household level include but not limited to:

    • gender differences in social capital and in vulnerability to poor nutrition and health
    • Access and decision-making power about productive resources
    • Gender roles and decision makers:
    • Access and control of income generated from farm or livestock produce sales.
    • Participation and leadership in community based associations or unions.

    Basically, women and men and girls and boys typically play differentiated roles within the agricultural sector and within the household. These differences vary widely within the African continent and more broadly. It is thus crucial that deliberate and meaningful efforts are taken to ensure that all planned agricultural development interventions are inclusive and gender responsive.


    Marie Rarieya, PhD
    Vice President, Capacity Strengthening & Professional Development
    International Centre for Evaluation and Development
    Tel: +254 (0)791-495-599
    Website: www.ICED-eval.org



    How have these realities been integrated into interventions and projects to reduce the gender gap in agricultural productivity and address the challenges of subsistence agriculture?

    Gender issues in agriculture is becoming more prominent in recent times, projects and interventions are becoming conscious of the related and the attendant gender gap that exist in agricultural sector among others. There is a need to be more affirmative and transformative in their approach. Some of the issues to consider is that are project and interventions addressing the issues of gender gap the right way? Are such interventions and projects just speaking gender language and paying lip services to narrowing gender gaps? are gender issues treated as cross cutting issues without ‘crossing any issues’? Do gender issues have separate budgets in such projects and interventions without lumping the issues of gender together with other issues ’preferred’ has most relevant? Who is accountable or should be held responsible to address narrowing gender gap? Are the implementers of such projects and intervention gender savvy? Etc. it is when such projects and interventions can correctly answer the listed questions correctly and many more, then we can they may likely be addressing the issues of gender gap and their positions in addressing the challenges of subsistence agriculture.

    How should the Bank’s Feed Africa Strategy; through its flagship initiatives and programmes be used to reduce the gender gap in agricultural productivity and support a strong foundation for Africa’s agricultural transformation?

    Strategic targeting capacity strengthening/utilization of partners (in application of gender concepts in programs and projects, accountability framework at all levels and especially at the Directors’ level and ensuring gender budgeting from the beginning of each project and interventions so that gender will not be an add on).

    To ensure more commitment, the programme should:

    • Employ a qualified gender expert who is very gender savvy to manage the gender component and portfolio of the project
    • Lay more emphasis on the crucial importance of affirmative, transformative targeting and strong periodic and constant monitoring and evaluation.
    • Document approaches used for participatory research and gender analysis in order to apply good practices to accelerate learning and adaptation of methods for farmer led participation
    • Design, disseminate and utilize gender strategy and policy with specific Africa gender marker code for the performance evaluation of AfDB and its partners.
    • Enhance capacity of AfDB members to undertake gender responsive research actions that address gender related problems
    • Enhance the M&E capacities of partners to monitor the outputs and outcomes of mainstreaming gender in ARD.
    • Establish and strengthen linkages between gender agricultural research and extension to address and close the gender gaps identified by various members of AfDB.
    • Strengthen the partnerships with various institutions working on gender and development to influence external constraints outside the agricultural domain affecting achievement of gender equality and women’s empowerment.
    • Support and monitor the AfDB members to plan, implement operational budget of at least 20%- 35% of its budget should be for gender focused actions.
    • Collaborate and partner with donors who have commitment for financing gender and agriculture.
    • Management and coordination responsibility (up to executive director) should be held responsible and accountable to gender issues
    • Building capacity of partners and staffin gender mainstreaming competences.



    Gender Mainstreaming in agricultural value chain at country level. 

    It is important to engender the value chain empowerment framework. It is then needed to deeply analyze structural and individuals constraints and opportunities for both men and women to upgrade in agricultural value chain. For a Feed Africa Strategy, AFDB should work to establish this framework which can be used to design programs that will ensure the transformation of African agricultural in a gender perspective.

    The Bank should be aware and conscious that it’s remained some challenges in gender mainstreaming. We all agree on the fact that an analysis of gender relations is always the starting point. But, in practice, interventions are gender sightless because they just address the outlines of mainstreaming by giving trainings for women and  accentuating on numbers of participants ( X male and X female). Even if dealing with these outlines aims to bridge the gap and address the roots of inequalities, it may give an inaccurate indicative on gender relations and what is deeply in change along the value chain to mainstream and empower the missing categories.

    From this point, I will emphasis on the importance of mainstreaming young people in agriculture and agricultural value chain.  They need to be attracted and to be maintained in agriculture for several reasons:  Bridge the gap of unemployment, transform agriculture with innovative ideas through ICT, reduce the gap in agricultural research which count few young people and ensure succession among others.

     This will need a great online debate to learn more about challenges and opportunities for youth in agriculture.



    Agricultural research for Development (AR4D) that integrates both quantitative and qualitative methodologies on issues such as policy, credit, insurance, safety nets can provide strategies for bridging the gender gap between men and women of all ages. AR4D can also provide strategies for information access for women and the youth.



    I used to think the gender gap existed only in Africa, but soon learned that it exists in the western world as well. I realized that STEM fields the world over have fewer participating women compared to men in technical fields that for decades have been deemed to be a man's playing field. And the agricultural sector is one field that predominantly constitutes STEM disciplines.

    This realization gave me a slightly different, more broadened view on the impact of the gender gap in Africa's agriculture. Firstly, unlike in the western world where in the midst of a similar gender gap, agricultural production and productivity still thrives, in Africa food production is marked by labour intensive processes existing mostly at the bottom of the agricultural value chain. And this is the level where women participate most. Up the value chain, as Madalitso Chidumo alluded to, fewer women exist. This clearly points to a leadership issue. And this is the nature of the gap that exists in the western world too (culturally embedded) though our counterparts have found solace in technology and high throughput methods of agriculture which have mitigated the effects of the gender gap.

    We on the other hand not only battle with the" women in leadership" challenge but the inadequacy of modern technology in agriculture. The second dimension that my realization made apparent to me is that the definition of women empowerment in many African countries is not empowerment in the true sense. Yes the gap has been identified, and yes interventions have been devised and applied to various African communities but results have been often short-lived because these are probably not the most appropriate interventions. Interventions to the gender gap thus far have focused more on handouts such as supplying women with capital to run agri-businesses, encouraging them to form groups sometimes under male leadership in order to qualify for funding, providing them with already developed seed varieties to test on their land and hopefully adopt etc. Whereas this does produce some favourable results, these are not sustainable .

    Take for instance the last example, where improved seed is supplied to them for planting, yes good yields maybe realized for a time but in the long run , when that seed variety succumbs to the many vagaries of agriculture, who will supply the next good variety? Do we wait for another donor to do this? is it not more sustainable to train the African girl the science of developing new seed varieties for longer term results rather than attempt to continuously supply her mother with donor sourced seed? I

    n short, more sustainable interventions should emphasize on equipping the women with the skills to effect improved production and productivity rather than just supplying the end product. Finally, because of the lower levels women occupy in the agricultural sector, it is not uncommon to find many of them in many African countries specializing in marginalized crops.

    For instance in southern Africa, many women specialize in pulses and legumes because for cereals like maize and wheat, they simply cannot compete for the market with the seed companies or the commercial farmers who obviously use hybrid seed coupled with modern technology and obtain great yields. Therefore, marginalized crops would be a great niche within which to develop the capacity of these women and girls and will not only serve the purpose of developing their leadership skills in agriculture but will promote the desperately needed crop diversification in countries like Zambia and others.

    WIthin the sector of marginalized crops, we are meeting the women right in their play ground to build their capacity and this will gradually close the gender gap in leadership within the agricultural sector .



    I can not agree more. Gender is not an issue for Africa alone. In the western world, it does exist, even in the Eastern world too I have had an opportunity of discussing issues to do with Women advancing in STEM! it's a struggle. About Women Leadership in Agriculture, I think we should also make agriculture a colorful career, it's very profitable but it has not been understood so for a long time!

    AWARD Fellow,
    Michigan State University/LUANAR( Bunda)

    NJERI NJAU's picture



    Agriculture research is very important in addressing food security issues and also enhancing participation of women, youth and disadvantaged groups. It is the basis of forecasting issues in food security thus providing tangible solutions. All aspects of agriculture thrive on demand driven research.

    Research encompasses aspects such as policy, climate change, extension, technology, production, postharvest and marketing among others. In these, gender is a key component therefore research needs to be designed with a gender theme.

    Output from research is highly likely to be succesful when gender issues are adressed because majority of the people implementing findings are women.

    Scientists need to continually practice gender responsive research.

    Women in Agriculture Research Rock!

    Demba N's picture



    Information and Communication outreach has been an area of extensive work I have been involved lately within WAAPP-PPAAO Mali to date. Along with that work, CORAF has acknowledged the role of such Communication component in furthering the very outcome of most regional WAAPP embryos in need for more institutional support. From experience, I do believe that AfDB and its partners will be able to build upon the achievements of such WAAPP-PPAAO outcome and strengthen while integrating gender perspectives to support the transformation of Africa's agriculture sector.

    Through World Bank funding to date, it's important that AfDB envisions a lightweight mechanism in taking over such regional project structure for better ownership within its flagship Agricultural model...

    In this area as in any other addressing such socioeconomic disparities, it's important to maintain continuity in resource allocation and monitoring so as not to lose momentum such WAAPP-PPAAO initiatives have generated be it in Mali, Senegal, Burkina Faso, Niger or elsewhere...



    What is the role of agricultural research in bridging the gender gap?

    Agricultural research plays major roles in bridging gender gaps. Agricultural research should occupy very important position to narrow and even eliminate the existing gender gap in agricultural sector. Failure to recognize the different contributions of men and women in agriculture is costly because it results in misguided projects and programs, forgone agricultural output and incomes, and food and nutrition insecurity. Ensuring that both men and women are heard in research and policy processes through meaningful representation in decision making and policy bodies, in management positions, in research and development is an important component of reducing gender inequalities.

    Specifically, the role of agricultural research should:

    • Incorporate adequate gender analysis in the project/planning cycle(conception to evaluation)
    • adequate knowledge or capacity to understand gender issues should be developed/strengthened – collect, interprete and use gender disaggregated data
    • Use methodologies in research should capture and interprete genderissues
    • Instruments for data collection should integrate genderindicators
    • Provide adequate instituitional support for research on gender issues which should move beyond who, when and where.
    • Structure in terms of staffing (female to male ratio; more gender experts)
    • More gender savvy women should be adequately supported to assume and excel in research leadership position to influence policy
    • Provision of adequate incentives at the agricultural research level for gender consideration.

    What are the implications of this gender gap, especially for women in subsistence agriculture?

    The implications of gender gap, especially for women in subsistence agriculture is that women and most probably their households would be perpetually trapped in poverty and food insecurity.



    The Bank is well on its way in its support of enabling Africa feed itself. Matter-of-fact, it is of great benefit to the governments to roll out massive investments into agriculture especially given its interconnectedness to poverty levels in Africa. Both political will and the good will of development partners are a great push in the right direction.

    Smallholders in Africa produce the bulk of Africa’s food and are key in the success of eradicating food insecurity. Nonetheless, smallholder production is plagued by great risks and uncertainties. Smallholder farmers have not simply failed to commercialize but rather remained at smallholder production probably as a response to the risks they face along the food value chains. Food value chains in Sub-Saharan Africa are widely operating under information asymmetry a situation aggravated by poor condition of infrastructure in many agricultural regions. It is not uncommon to find low prices in regions of bountiful harvests and areas of high prices with low supply of vital foods within the same country at a point in time. Poor infrastructure has greatly contributed to distortion of the food value chains with a number of middlemen making their “cut” from the distortions in the food markets. While the farmer wails about the low prices of produce, the consumer helplessly laments about the skyrocketing food prices. The incentive for the farmer to upgrade to commercial production is dampened each season by the low prices due to rigidities in supply given the non- existent value addition technologies that would ensure a longer shelf life for agricultural produce. Each cropping season, faced with a choice of either producing commercially or for own consumption, the farmer chooses to produce for subsistence with a little for the market lest he floods the market and experiences the fall in food prices that characterize the harvest season.

    A few things can be done to improve the conditions for smallholder farmers and induce them to commercial food production;

    • Agricultural insurance; the agricultural sector is prone to weather vagaries and market shocks. High value investments into their production systems would at best result in net losses in the event of negative shocks. Producing for subsistence is a risk management strategy out of which, the agricultural system will need an outside intervention in order to break free and provision
    • Investment in Food processing infrastructure: Food supply is largely inelastic in supply and as such, smallholder farmers have learned that while in times of bountiful harvests they can indeed market produce, the bountiful harvest simultaneously induces a reduction in prices to their detriment. Food processing would result in a longer shelf life for excess produce that cannot be sold profitably at the market at the time of harvest and ensure a continuous supply of food.
    • Improve infrastructure to curb the high transaction costs that have resulted in unfavorable trading conditions for smallholder farmers specifically female farmers. It is enough that she has her time stretched thin by responsibilities towards her family; poor infrastructure makes it next to impossible for her to access markets or at most access them through her male counterpart who is able to bear the brunt of the harsh transport conditions and distance.
    • Improve market information flow; oftentimes farmers feel cheated by the low prices offered by the middlemen while the consumers feel cheated by the high prices they have to pay for food communities. Those that have learned to leverage on this information asymmetry have formed “middlemen” institutions along the value chains- evasive informal institutions that guide the trend along whole food value chains rewarding a few that can hoard and identify profitable markets.






    La thématique sur la disparité entre les sexes dans la productivité agricole est une question importance et capitale qui nous interpelle à des réflexions profonde des propositions concrètes si vraiment nous voulons parvenir à nourrir le monde. Nous devons donc réussir à identifier les réels goulots d'etranglement qui pèsent sur la participation efficace de la femme et proposer des solutions concrètes.

    L'homme n'est différent de la femme que sur le plan biologique. Lorsque les 2 bénéficient des mêmes chances de formation et des mêmes conditions de travail, la femme donne le plus souvent des résultats spectaculaires et meilleurs. Mais la problématique qui se pose ici se focalise sur la femme en milieu rural, la femme agricultrice où le droit coutumier dans beaucoup de pays africains exercice des limites à l'expression des capacités réelles de la femme. Elle a un accès marginal aux ressources productives (terre, intrants agricoles, équipements et crédits). Elle ne bénéficie pas de formation pouvant renforcer ces connaissances et ses savoirs faire en matière de production agricole. 

    Dans le cadre du Projet USAID de Partenariat pour le coton dans les pays du C4 (USAID C4CP) qui couvre le Bénin, le Burkina Faso, le Mali et le Tchad, des efforts ont été faits et des résultats partageables ont été obtenus. Ce projet de sécurité alimentaire mis en oeuvre par le Centre International pour le Développement des angrais (IFDC) et financé par l'Agence Américaine pour le Développement International (USAID) a essayé de percer l'abcès, d'identifier les contraintes majeures et de faire des propositions grâce à une étude réalisée au démarrage du projet. L'étude a porté sur le « genre et chaîne de valeur coton et cultures de rotation »  dans les pays du C4 et a permis de  recueillir des informations liées aux contraintes basées genre au niveau de tous les maillons des chaînes de valeur coton et cultures de rotation. Ces contraintes ont été analysées et classées en cinq catégories d’enjeux qui pèsent sur le développement des femmes et ne lui permettent pas d'avoir une bonne productivité agricole. Au nombre de ces contraintes, nous avons noté (1) lois, politiques, réglementations et pratiques institutionnelles; (2) normes et croyances culturelles; (3) rôles, responsabilités et utilisation du temps en fonction du sexe; (4) accès et contrôle exercé sur les actifs et ressources; et (5) schémas de pouvoir et de prise de décision dans le ménage et la communauté.

    Voilà donc quelques causent et comment se traduit la disparité entre les sexes dans la productivité agricole.

    Nous allons revenir dans les discussions si nécessaire pour partager avec vous quelques actions / solutions entreprises par le Projet USAID C4CP face à ces enjeux.



    La recherche entant qu'instrument scientifique d'élaboration participative de technologies pour répondre aux préoccupations des utilisateurs a pour rôle de proposer des outils et des technologies appropriées aux besoins des femmes dans le domaine de l'agriculture et dans la réduction de la disparité entre les sexes non seulement pour réduire la pénibilité du travail des femmes mais aussi pour accroîtres leur productivité agricole. Ce rôle d'une manière générale se joue déjà plus ou moins bien (exemple des technologies PPAO) . Mais il ne suffit pas d'élaborer seulement des technologies appropriées, il faut et surtout que la femme accède à l'information sur l'existence de la technologie, à la formation sur l'utilisation de la technologie et à l'acquisition de la technologie ; et c'est là où le problème se pose. Dans la plupart des pays africains, en milieu rural, l'information et la formation ont un circuit institutionnel alors que les pratiques institutionnelles et les schémas de pouvoir de prise de décision dans le ménage et la communauté ne permettent pas à la femme d'être dans les instances où l'information et la formation sont donnés. De plus, l'accès au crédit pour acquérir la technologie est conditionné à la possession de garantie (le plus souvent "terre") alors que les normes et croyances culturelles en afrique ne lui permettent pas d'avoir cette garantie "terre". Du coup, la femme ménagère en milieu rural ne pourrait accéder au crédit.

    Alors, il faut noter pour mieux étayer l'idée que le chercheur n'est pas vulgarisateur et le rôle de la recherche dans le domaine de l'agriculture en faveur des femmes, même si ce rôle est très bien assumé ne pourra pas permettre de réduire la disparité entre les sexes dans la productivité agricole.

    Enfin, pour que le résultat de la recherche impact positivement la disparité entre les sexes dans la productivité agricole, il faut bien sûr prôner l'existence de technologies agricoles appropriées aux femmes agricultrices, mais il faudra agir surtout sur les politiques / lois / réglémentations et pratiques institutionnelles, les normes et croyances culturelles, la gestion du temps de la femme entre le ménage et l'exploitation agricole (horloge de 24h), les possibilités d'accès à l'actif et aux ressources productives et les schémas de pouvoir de prise de décision au sein des ménages et la communauté.

    Germain DOSSOU's picture



    Cher Christophe, je suis d'avis sur ton développement. Je voudrais aussi ajouter que la recherche doit associer les utilisateurs finanux des technologies et surtout les femmes afin de comprendre en quels termes les problèmes se posent et étudier aussi les capacités financières de ces utilisateurs afin de proposer des technologies adéquates et à des coûts accesibles aux femmes. Si non, les technologies seront développées, mais les femmes ne pourront pas y accéder.

    Germain M. DOSSOU
    Expert en genre et développement
    Coordonnateur ANaF-BENIN
    Tél: 00229 97025285
    Email: domeger2002@yahoo.fr



    1.      How gender gap occur in agriculture productivity?

    Gender is a cultural predisposition of what men and women roles are supposed and that shapes their involvement. 

    Here is how:

    ·         Men are providers, so women may take a back seat

    ·         Men own the land, women take a back seat.

    ·         Men have capital or can access credit, women are left behind

    ·         Women have to work with low technology since they have no capital to buy machinery and it is back breaking.

    ·         Men make decisions on what, when, and own handle the money and direct it, women are marginalized

    ·         Women do laborious work the men take all the money.

    2.      Role of agricultural research.

    Research on these gendered perceptions with an aim of understanding the sociocultural dynamics to be able to accurately address them through follow up of sensitization workshops.


    How much land is available?

    Who controls the land?

    The willingness to release it to the intended production.

    The sustainability of the project in commitment to the set up.

    This research should address both the man and the woman and not target one unless they are single.

    3.      Whats the implication of gender gap?

    ·         A low morale in production.                                               

    ·         Impoverishment of the society and especially women and children because of food insecurity.

    ·         Suboptimal use of land and labour and other available resources.


    4.      How have realities been integrated in interventions and projects to reduce gender gap?

    ·         To mitigate the patriarchal dominance, sensitization workshop should be done to avoid the men manager and women worker mentality.

    ·         To mitigate the lack of capital and the high production costs usually linked to hiked input prices ( fertilizer, chemicals to control pests and diseases) one may organize for the farmer to pick inputs from a centre and pay on sale of agricultural goods. This also ensures the produce is of high quality.

    ·         Also, offer other extension services on production…best variety for that ecological area, common diseases and chemicals availed, advise on when to top dress etc. so as to reduce failure which may deter production.

    ·         Roads may be renovated if seasonal or the produce may be picked from near the farms in local centres to reduce the cost of transport by every farmer.

    ·         Improve production technology and provide farm tools since women usually with no capital may not afford.

    ·         Provide refrigeration facilities for perishable goods

    ·         Have in place a properly organized marketing system to avoid rots and exploitation by brokers which reduce profit.


    Madalitso Chidumu's picture

    One other aspect to consider in the area of research on Gender issues in Agriculture is about translating research to implementable activities. There have been alot af research that have been carried out on gender issues and how they affect production etc. but little are the times we have seen implementable recommendations from these research papers which are lying idle in offices once the research is over. a research project must be followed with clear plan on how the research results will be implemented. Smallholder farmers especially women are participating in researches, which even takes up much of their they could be doing some productive work, responding to questionares which are not clear and in the end recommendations will be done in forums, meetings which leave out the farmers, and ends up on the shelves.


    Madalitso Chidumu (2014 AWARD fellow)
    Farmer & Founder of Impact AIIC





    The research has been there, but it has been lacking lots of action in it. It takes a lot of effort to walk the talk in Gender in Agriculture. In Malawi, for example, I would strongly recommend having gender incorporated in the curriculum in Agricultural research centers. We need a critical mass, train those young ones passing through the universities, the importance of gender in agriculture, make them aware of the benefits of bridging the gaps in gender and agriculture.  What do you Think!  We need a clear understanding of gender first before we can understand the gap. And as an academician, I wait for the day my students will make a deliberate effort to understand the implications of their research on the gender gap in agriculture. 

    What do you think? Just my thoughts

    AWARD Fellow,
    Michigan State University/LUANAR( Bunda)



    • how does the gender gap in agricultural productivity occur and why?

    I think very low literacy levels of Women in Africa are one of the causes of the gender gap in Agricultural productivity in Africa. Most women are not as educated as men in Africa. This is because, for a long time, cultural traditions were in favor of male child as far as access to education and information was concerned. Poor access to education and information by Women, due to low literacy levels created a big gender gap in agricultural productivity. In Malawi for example, women play an important role in subsistence farming, yet their productivity is limited because they do not have access to important information and adoption of new technologies becomes a challenge.  Efforts have been put in place through Farm radios, but I think it's one thing to hear a thing, and its completely another thing to understand, be able to process and make the best use of information. Literacy still scores high, as far as the gender gap in agriculture production is concerned

    The other cause of gender gap in agricultural production in Africa could be differences in Land rights. Traditionally in most parts of the countries in Africa, men are the ones who own land with few exceptions.  Thus men and women may not have equal access to land most of the times. This impacts, decision making in women, on what kind of crops they can grow. For example, having an access to a small piece of Land, most likely a woman would do the least possible to grow just enough food for her household yet a male who has an easy access to land might even grow crops that would benefit him more than a female counterpart.

    The lack of balance on household responsibilities such as taking care of children in children, preparing food and keeping a household would be another cause of gender imbalance in Agricultural production. Keeping household is mostly perceived as a responsibility of a woman in most parts of Africa, as a result women are “robbed” of the time they would have invested in their agricultural production. Their allocation of time to agricultural activities would not be the same as that of males. This significantly affects their production and creates a production gap between men and women.   In addition, women may not have enough physical capital to increase their agricultural productivity and unfortunately, most technologies that have been developed and adopted so far, are not sensitive to physical abilities of women. Most technologies such as making compost manure are very labor intensive.


    • What is the role of agricultural research in bridging the gender gap?

    Agricultural research has to intentionally be gender sensitive to bridge this gap. Agricultural research should seek to come up with technologies that will take into account the needs for both men and women.  There has been a lot of bias, where gender was considered as a social subject, I think gender is pure science too if it is understood very well. So either from a Laboratory, a field, a community, research at all levels should be inclusive of gender needs without which it will not benefit the end users.

    In addition, Agricultural Research institutions should seek to train more women so that they can take up some decision-making and technology development positions. This will fix the gap too.  For example, speaking with reference to a country in the southern Africa, there were manual irrigation pumps that were designed for farmers to use in irrigation farming, this was quite a good investment in agriculture but it did not benefit men and women, farmers, equally because the pumps were too heavy to be manually operated by women. If gender were taken into consideration right from the beginning this technology would benefit both men and women. It was also a good Indication that we lacked women engineers who would actively participate in the designing of this pump who would easily take note of the physical needs of operating the pump.


    • What are the implications of this gender gap, especially for women in subsistence agriculture?

    The widening gender gap is directly affecting Women agricultural productivity. The benefits that women get in agricultural productivity are far much lower than what they would actually get if the gap was bridged. From a Malawian perspective, women head a good percentage of rural households yet these women cannot be productive as they are supposed to be, most of them are stricken by poverty. Since subsistence agriculture is a source of livelihood for the majority. This creates a very big economic gap between men and women.

    • How have these realities been integrated into interventions and projects to reduce the gender gap in agricultural productivity and address the challenges of subsistence agriculture?

    I think these realities have been integrated but to a lesser extent. I personally think we can do more to address the challenges in subsistence agriculture, by improving the literacy levels of women.  Agricultural research and interventions need to actively involve women farmers as well as invest in the future farmers (the Young Women and Men – The YOUTH) we need solutions at a grassroots level.

    • How should the Bank’s Feed Africa Strategy; through its flagship initiatives and programs be used to reduce the gender gap in agricultural productivity and support a strong foundation for Africa’s agricultural transformation?

    Establish technology innovation centers for Agriculture. This would involve farmers, early research scientists in Agriculture. The core of these centers should be, developing technologies that are gender sensitive.

    Coordinate gender programs with agricultural institutions in Africa to incorporate gender lessons in their curriculum as early as possible.  We can only do better if we know better. And so it would be great to teach the younger generations about gender and agriculture so early, and when they have a clear understanding of it, it will not take too much effort in the future to develop policies and technologies that are gender sensitive in agriculture, it will be just normal to do it.

    Invest in training more agriculture women scientists in Africa. I think, much as we know agriculture is great, it has not been understood so. Most young people think being an agriculturist is the least of all the professions. Accelerating careers of young scientists in Agriculture more especially women will help bridge the gap

    • Which successful initiatives on improving women’s agricultural productivity could be scaled up by the AfDB?

    Without bias, I would strongly encourage AfDB to Scale up and Support AWARD. It is the most successful initiative I have come across on the continent of Africa. AWARD has ripple effects.


    AWARD Fellow,
    Michigan State University/LUANAR( Bunda)



    Over the years scientists and development partners have introduced post harvest technologies to enhance women's agricultural productivity. Kudos to CGIAR organization like IITA and national organizations. Specifically, processing machineries such as graters, pressers, roasters, sifters, solar house, and dryers are readily available for scaling up. Some attempts are ongoing on peeling machines, hand held stem planter, and weeder. There is the need for capacity building of fabricators in each country to adopt these technologies.

    Garcia Honvoh ep. Chabi's picture



    How does the gender gap in agricultural productivity occur and why? This occurs mainly because in most intense, women do not have access to land neither do they have a say though they and their children do most of the production work.  Besides, due to lack of resources for guarantee, they more often than not do not have access to finance to farm. For sure, such question and those below have already been looked into by researchers or other institutions and the outcome not shared accordingly with the general public. Otherwise, they must be some answers already available to build on. I glad to see studies result share by some who posted earlier.

    What is the role of agricultural research in bridging the gender gap? Agriculture research should work with women and the youth to understand their agriculture activities and find means to resolved challenges they have with tools and methods used as well as developing improved seeds and other input to make their production of quality, quantity and easy to store/keep to reduce post-harvest losses. Thus, their intervention should be an end to end one. The WAAPP project financed by the World Bank has done well in that regards with the technologies developed to reduce effort made by women. There is still room for improvement as, packaging to ensure food safety and hygiene are lagging behind in some countries. Agriculture research should also look into that. Above all, available technologies should be spread across the continent to avoid duplication of efforts. That will help avoid the reinvention of the wheel and enable other key aspects of agriculture to be tackled by researchers.


    What are the implications of this gender gap, especially for women in subsistence agriculture? Women will not move out from poverty neither become financially independent to better cater for the kids. More children will not get proper educations and we will have teen pregnancy and early marriages. Meanwhile, Africa needs its children to develop and move from its current state of dependency.


    How have these realities been integrated into interventions and projects to reduce the gender gap in agricultural productivity and address the challenges of subsistence agriculture? Nowadays,  most of projects' interventions are gender sensitive and are about access to finance for women, technology to reduce their level of effort at work or to use a particular technology. WAAPP, IFDC C4CP, USAID Trade Hub, AfDB etc…


    How should the Bank’s Feed Africa Strategy; through its flagship initiatives and programmes be used to reduce the gender gap in agricultural productivity and support a strong foundation for Africa’s agricultural transformation? The bank should develop strategic private and public partnerships with influential stakeholders of the agriculture sector leveraging on their competences and effort to bridge the gender gap by having a global interventions than doing bit and pieces. Furthermore, these areas should be looked into critically: 

    • women capacity building in leadership and research
    • Build the incubation center the USAID C4CP has as one of their recommendations from one of their women forum to build women in agriculture capacity
    • Provide technical support to women with great agribusiness ideas to develop their business plan and invest in it. It does not have to necessary be production, it can be processing or any other aspects of the agricultural value chain.
    • Invest in research from end to end from production, packaging to commercialization.


    ·         Which successful initiatives on women’s agricultural productivity could be scaled up by the AfDB? That of WAAPP, USAID C4CP, USAD-GREEN, AECOM - SIMCA-BF and others that have great result and impact and success stories should be scaled with particular attention to lessons learnt for greater impact.


    Garcia Honvoh
    ICT4D Consultant
    Mob: +233246295054
    Pers. E-Mail: honvoh@gmail.com


    Stephen Wamalwa's picture



    Among the biggest challenge facing the crop sector in sub-Saharan countries, especially Kenya are climate variability and mainly continuous soil nutrient depletion. A specific cropping system such as Integrated Soil Fertility Management (ISFM) is regarded as the best option for resource poor to sustainable increase crop yield and reverse negative effects of climate change. Numerous on-farm Interventions of ISFM have been successfully up-scaled in various locations. However up scaling to a larger area like entire country and other similar regions have stalled by lack of soil data to quantify such effects on soil quality, and climate, since traditional soil sampling and ash analysis is tedious and expensive. Landscape and soil reflectance spectral libraries approaches that have been used in the past to assess soil degradation on L. Victoria basin and offers a specific basket of recommendations, however the approaches have never been embraced on smallholder farms where soil degradation, declining yields and poverty is highly pronounced. The approaches can be best decision supporting tool to develop agricultural land system database, especially on soil nutrients that vary from one location to another hence yield variability. The Bank’s Feed Africa Strategy; through its flagship and programs can help in establishing such database that will give timely, precise and affordable farm specific agricultural recommendations via farmers’ cell phone upon request, this will not only cut back widening gender gap, but also enhance decision making by researchers and policy makers on policies concerning soil conservation and sustainable yield strategy, which soil is a primary production medium for smallholder growers for at least an unforeseeable future.


    Bridget Bwalya's picture

    Preliminary results from one of the research projects i am involved with suggest that women are engaging in cotton contract farming in their own right. Since they are able to sign contracts with cotton companies, they secure access to external inputs and after harvest and sale, they earn income, which they control. This is helping them address the pervasive challenge of very limited access to external inputs. In my view, initiatives that enable women to access inputs without demanding upfront material/ financial contributions from them can make a difference.


    Magdalene Wanza's picture



    The challenge with women fairly benefiting from the effort they put in agriculture is lack of enough resources. Women are hardworking but a big percentage do not have access to the necessary resources, either because their husbands do not give them a chance to exlore opportunities or they are not informed on where they can get help from. There are various financial institutions that can offer financial support to women. Women need to be empowered and made aware of such opportunities and ways of accessing them. Another challenge that faces the agrcultural sector and active involvement or facilitation is the priority it is given. For instance in Kenya, if the county governements would be able to create budgets to support women in agriculture, then there would be less cases of food insecurity in the country. Our governments need to give agriculture the priority it deserves!

    Magdalene Wanza's picture



    Women have always played a great role in agriculture but there rarely benefit from the efforts they put. The main reason is because most of them do not have access to resources and more so financial. Althouth there are institutions that can support them, some are not aware. Awareness need to be created esspecially in rural areas and accessing such resources made easier.



    Gender disparities in all sectors of development are not new, but they are worse in the developing countires. In Africa, especially in smallholder farms which account for about 70% of the food production in many countires, women contribute a substancial proportion of the labour for agricultural production, ranging from about 25 to over 50%. Yet, women have very poor access to resources such as land, capital and technology. The disparity among countries shows that there is need to tackle the issues of gender gap in a more country/region specific approach. Investing resources through women has proven to result in higher impact on family welfare, particularly income, health and nutrition. Women have also shown a higher rate of repayment on loans, despite their poor access to credit facilities due to lack od callaterals. Many technological inovations have also proven to be unsuitable for women due to either their complexity in the operation and/or maintenance. It is my view that availing women friendly credit facilities, technical inovations and trainings would go a long way in bridging the gender gap in agricultural production.

    Magdalene Wanza's picture



    The result for the gender gap that exists in agriculture for women is malnutrition and lack of development. Women are a key factor for the development of any society. They are backborne for families. If they are not supported to bridge the gender gap that exists in agriculture, food insecurity is bound to continue in most of the African Countries. However, if they  are supported in the areas that they are inadequate, then there will be good fruits and development will be realized.

    Yinka Adesola's picture



    The bank can upscale women participation in agriculture by bringing to the rural areas some financial lending benefits that rural women can easily addressed using woman led organisation that understand the plight of women.

    The rural areas have so many woman led agricultural programmes that requires upscaling.

    Agricultural equipments can be fabricated for the use of the women group to increase their productivity.

    Financially empowering a woman amounts to empowering the family.

    Most women in agriculture in Africa lack access to funds to upscale production.

    Little processing material like 

    Solar dryers



    Etc are required to see increase in agric productivity.

    Most banks rarely consider women in whatever they do. The finance are concentrated on men

    Germain DOSSOU's picture



    Je voudrais partager notre expérience avec vous concernant la pratique des technologies de gestion durable des terres (GDT). Nous accompagnons les femmes à améliorer la qualité des terres agricoles qu'elles exploitent en les formant aux différentes bonnes pratiques GDT. Pour les femmes qui sont en mode de faire valoir indirect, nous demandons qu'il ait toujours un contrat d'usage qui précise la durée d'exploitation des terres. Ceci permettra à la femme de rentabiliser son investissement.

    Germain M. DOSSOU
    Expert en genre et développement
    Coordonnateur ANaF-BENIN
    Tél: 00229 97025285
    Email: domeger2002@yahoo.fr

    Paul Kibogo's picture



    Focusing on high value crop production that requires minimal inputs and land, like the use of low cost green house technology. Focusing on gender friendly agricultural inputs example, production of simple mechanized farm inputs,packaging of inputs in a gender friendly, portable smaller quantities. Facilitation of information dissemination based on current market trends and innovation breakthrough thus bridging the gap between what the modern consumer wants and what farmers are producing.


    Jumoke Adeyeye's picture

    Causes of Gender Gap in Agricultural Productivity

    The agricultural sector is very important and crucial to the survival and livelihoods of many people especially those living in the rural areas in many developing countries. For example in Nigeria, the Central Bank in 2016 estimated that the sector accounted for about 24% of the country’s GDP and according to the National Bureau of Statistics accounted for about 70% of total labour force. Similarly, about 70% of the SMEs in the country operate in the agriculturally value chain. Therefore, any attempt at improving agricultural productivity would mean accompanying improvement in the livelihoods and standard of living of many of the rural populace. It is no doubt that both men as well as women play significant roles in agricultural development, however, the important roles that women play in agriculture, household food and nutrition security cannot be overemphasized. Women constitute the major work force in food production, processing and marketing in many developing countries. However, they have not been able to match up with their male counterparts and they remain marginalized in issues relating to agricultural production and development.

    A very fundamental factor widening the gender gap in agricultural productivity is the existing gendered and powered relations stemming from patriarchal system operating in many countries of the world. These gendered powered relations affect the participation and opportunities present to both men and women farmers and in most instances, women are the most vulnerable. It also affects the design of many agricultural development programmes and intervention which most times fail to address gender differences in the design and implementation of their programmes.  The prevailing patriarchal cultural system ensued the subordination of women to men. Even at the household level, the patriarchal system defines the existing power relations and the bargaining power of household members. The societal and family systems, kinship and marriage, inheritance patterns, gender segregation, have all been patterned to follow male favoritism and bias towards the female gender. Family system in many developing countries especially in the rural areas is organized along patrilineal lines; consequently, male domination and control of household resources and decision-making is a social issue that subjugates women’s authority and agency. This patrilineal family system serves to undermine further women’s autonomy. Apart from its implications for women’s personal autonomy, it defines and limits women’s economic and social power thus gender inequality is demonstrated is demonstrated in access to and decision-making about resources and opportunities that would improve their productivity.

    Therefore, women mostly lag behind in access to resources such as land, in access to credit, access to inputs and effectively technologies and to extension among others. Also, women lack adequate agency to contribute meaningfully to decision-making. Also in time allocation, women may not have enough time to invest in their productive activities because of the highly rated reproductive roles that they are expected to perform. Therefore, gender inequalities emanating from deep rooted biased norms, beliefs and hierarchical power relations between men and women in many societies are the underlying factors widening the gender gap in agricultural productivity.

    The Roles of Agricultural Research in Bridging the Gap

    Engendering agricultural research and development has been recognized as one of the strategies for closing the gender gap in agricultural growth and development. In most instances, agricultural research has been supply-driven adopting top-down approaches in conceptualizing and implementing research that were supposed to benefit both men and women in the society. Agricultural research systems need to facilitate bottom-up, demand-driven approaches which constitute the best practices and latest global approach to effective agricultural development.

    Women and men have different needs and concerns and are affected differently by social, physical and cultural factors. Therefore, agriculture research must integrate gender issues first into conceptualization of research ideas and also in implementing those ideas so that both men and women can benefit equally from the research efforts. Also, the research continuum of researchers-extension agents-farmers needs to be strengthened to foster transformative changes in the lives of the farmers. National Agricultural Research Systems (NARs) and the International Agricultural Research Centres (IARCs) need to pay crucial attention to gender issues in their research. They need to promote inclusive growth in the agricultural sector by ensuring that men, women and youth who are active stakeholders in the sector are not marginalized in the research and development segment of the sector.

    Implications of the Gender Gap for Women in Subsistence Agriculture

    Rural livelihoods directly or indirectly depend on agriculture because many of the rural populace especially women work directly as farmers or processors and some as wage labourers in agricultural related activities. Strategies that therefore improve agricultural productivity would have resultant effects on the livelihoods of these rural women especially those practicing subsistence agriculture. Reinforcing and promoting beliefs that limit women’s agriculture productivity would have adverse effects on their livelihoods and the subsequent detrimental effects on their living conditions in areas such as nutrition, housing, sanitation, food access, among others. Gender Gap in agricultural productivity increases the risk and vulnerability encountered by women farmer. This poses a lot of threats to their wellbeing and that of their households. Livelihoods can only be secured when people have adequate means of living in terms of ownership and access to resources, assets and income which are vital in offsetting risks and meeting contingencies. Gender bias in productivity between men and women would therefore expose the women and the household to face more debilitating factors which could aggravate poverty and hunger in the women’s household. It has been well established that improving women’s productivity and placing more resources in their hands would have high beneficial effects on every member of the household especially children. In the other way round, widening the gender gap in agricultural productivity would mean less resources available to women and this would have a lot of negative effects on the wellbeing of household’s members especially in food and nutrition security.

    Aside from the negative effects that gender gap in productivity has on the livelihoods and living condition of rural women and their households, this gap in productivity will also have implication on the self-esteem and agency of these rural women. Women’s control over resources affects their livelihood status; the extent to which they exercise control determine their livelihood status. Improving women’s productivity would affect their agency and such women would be empowered to contribute meaningfully to decisions about issues affecting their lives. Such women can make effective decisions about what to plant and what inputs to apply on her plot and what agricultural system to adopt. Such women would be more productive and in good social, mental and economic state to influence positively their children's health, nutrition and welfare.

    How have these realities been integrated into intervention and projects to reduce gender gap?

    The programmes and policies implemented by many organisations and development partners aimed at agricultural productivity, in many instances are gender-blind. They treat farmers as a homogenous group with same needs and concerns. These fail to take into consideration the gender different needs of both women and men farmers. However, some organizations have implemented new initiatives and programmes that integrate gender concerns and needs into their projects. Example of this initiative is the CARE Pathways Programme which goal is to increase poor women farmers’ productivity and empowerment in more equitable agriculture systems at scale.

    How should the Bank’s Feed Africa Strategy be used to reduce gender gap in agricultural productivity?

    The Bank’s Feed Africa Strategy can adopt transformative strategies that would address the root/underlying causes of gender gap rather than just design strategies that would address immediate noticeable causes of the gender gap. Similarly, the Feed Africa Strategy should aim at integrating gender-sensitive tools and methodologies in its programmes and projects. Such include designing gender transformative approaches that would go beyond addressing the noticeable superficial factors of gender gap. It should address the underlying factors causing or promoting the gender gap to ensure sustainable, gender-oriented development in the society. Such transformative approaches include the using effective gender framework to conduct baseline studies and gender analysis prior to the design or implementation of intervention. Also, applying effective gender mainstreaming strategies could go a long way to address the gender gap. In addition, the use of the women’s empowerment approach by some organizations could go a long way as the empowerment approach is have been identified as one of the strategic panaceas to closing the gender gap in agriculture productivity. A successful tool that can help in achieving this is the Women Empowerment in Agriculture Index (WEAI), which is a new gender-sensitive, micro-level, multi-dimensional tool. It measures the empowerment, agency, and inclusion of women in the agriculture sector in an effort to identify ways to overcome those obstacles and constraints. It also examines gender parity in empowerment between primary male and female decision-makers in the same household. It was developed jointly by the OPHI, Oxford University, IFPRI and USAID under the US Government Feed the Future Initiative.

    Another way is through the introduction of new technologies that will reduce the workload of women. However, care must be observed that introduction of new technologies do not wipe up jobs engaged by rural, unskilled smallholders. Also, men should be engaged as critical partners in bridging gender gap in agricultural productivity. Capacity building activities, awareness and advocacy programmes should be mainstreamed into the Strategy with the objective of tackling gender norms, cultural, religious, beliefs and stereotypes entrenched in communities across Africa. Engaging men as partner on gender equality will go a long way in reducing these gender norms and beliefs in our communities. Studies have shown that when men are liberated, women are empowered.


    Successful Initiatives on Women’s Agricultural Productivity that could be scaled up by AfDB?

    An example is the CARE Pathways (Women in Agriculture) Program implemented in seven developing countries, five of which are in Africa. They are Ghana, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Malawi and Mali. The programme which was sponsored by BMGF in its first phase has proven to be successful and can be expanded to other African countries.

    Research Fellow,
    Centre for Gender and Social Policy Studies,
    Obafemi Awolowo University,
    Ile-Ife, Nigeria

    Germain DOSSOU's picture



    Réduire la disparité entre les sexes dans la productivité agricole: Encore du chemin à parcourir

    La contribution des femmes dans le secteur agricole et surtout dans la sécurité alimentaire n'est plus à démontrer. Nous sommes d'avis qu'i y a beaucoup d'avancées dans la prise en compte du genre dans le développement. Force est de constater que beaucoup de situations inégalitaires entretenues continuent de peser sur les femmes. Il est important pour ma part que les femmes aient le contrôle des ressources productives. Si cette question ne trouve pas de solutions durables, quelque soit les efforts à consentir pour accompagner les femmes agricultrices, ceci risque de ne pas porter ses fruits.

    Je prends l'exemple du foncier: Aujourd'hui, pour ce qui concerne mon pays le Bénin, le problème d'accès au foncier ne se pose pas vraiment. Il faudrait qu'on trouve des stratégies qui guarantissent la sécurité à la femme agricultrice lorsqu'elle se trouve par exemple en situation de mode de faire valoir indirect. Par exemple, pour améliorer la productivité agricole, il importe d'avoir de semence de qualité et d'avoir aussi de terres fertiles, les autres facteurs ne sont pas pour autant à négliger. Les terres en Afrique en général sont de plus en plus dégradées. Il existe aujourd'hui beaucoup de technologies appropriées pour améliorer le niveau de fertilité des sols. Les femmes qui reçoivent des terres pauvres ne constituent pas de problèmes en réalité. La question fondamentale qui se pose est de chercher à sécuriser cette terre pauvre afin que la femme qui travaille pour relever le niveau de fertilité puisse en jouir. Si tel n'est pas le cas, la femme va beau investir pour rendre la terre fertile et le propriétaire se lèvera un beau matin pour la chasser au moment où elle devrait jouir des retombées de cet investissement. Par rapport à cette situation regrettable, il importe de signer des clauses entre celui/celle qui emprunte la terre à la femme même si c'est son propre mari.

    Germain M. DOSSOU
    Expert en genre et développement
    Coordonnateur ANaF-BENIN
    Tél: 00229 97025285
    Email: domeger2002@yahoo.fr

    Yinka Adesola's picture



    How could the ENABLE Youth initiative, be used to support gender equality?

    It will be nice if the bank can assist by training women in the production of small solar panel and accessories that can be used in the production of solar dryers.

    Several Agricultural produce goes to waste because of no storage facilities. Having a solar powered dryer in the rural areas will enable woman upscale their production because they know they can dry it up.

    Women are mainly discourage from participating in agriculture because of the low income its fetch due to gluts during the production process.




    • Gender is socially constructed role of men and women, which vary from one society to the other
    • Its determined by socio-cultural orientations of a Community
    • We become men and women through a process of socialisation in our society.


    • Productive roles - Has monetary gain crops production, livestock production.
    • Reproductive roles - To nurture the family eg cooking, nursing, cleaning  with no monetary gain
    • Community roles - Social roles - Engaging in religious matters, burial, circumcision, Female Genital Mutilation, wedding, harambee etc.

    Gender based inequalities in access and control of productive and financial recourses inhibits agriculture productivity and reduces food security. Where the society is taking leading role in participation of all gender in agriculture production better returns are achieved.

    Agricultural activities are mainly undertaken by women and children while men are mostly decision makers and managers.

    • Women are over burdened by reproductive roles ; but men enjoy leisure times
    • Men are more involved in commercial crop production while women in subsistence crop production.
    • Men dispose or sell farm produce and control the produce income.
    • Old men own land which can be inherited when he’s dead while women follow instruction/decision made by men.
    • Women interplay  between achievement of Household food security, investment and savings.
    • Human dignity and value is defined in terms of economical well being unequal power relationships which exist between men and women in agriculture.

    Gender inequality is reflected in agriculture policy strategies and programs which favor men.

    Policies should address Empowerment of women, agriculture productivity and economic growth be integrated to improve the well being of community.


    • Traditional male-female power imbalance makes it harder for women to own land and other assets, obtain adequate education and employment
    • Agricultural casual labor costing  in man hours( Kshs 350/ =day  for man and 250/=/day for  Woman)
    • Men easily access and take control of capital assets - land, labour, funds, equipments, tools (knapsack) etc
    • Men makes most decisions and are group leaders while women follow decisions made; In the farm business, coffee societies etc.
    • Men participation mostly in agri-business while women are after food for the family


    • Men decide on environmental conservation measures in Agro enterprises in the farm.
    • They undertake erection of structure, water harvesting devices, cooking devices and fuel supply. Women may be involved in nursery management in the business yet men do the sale of seedlings.


    • The capacity to choose, acquire and use technology fully depends on men decision.
    • Men will follow Convectional agricultural practices ;Men adopt new technologies TC banana, posho mill, chaff cutter, biogas plant while women do non-convectional type of farming due to lack of farm inputs. Women have limited technical know-how
    • Farm business plans and records are done or kept mostly by men only; Men draw farm business and rotational plans. Men a have a bigger say in disposal of farm produce
    • Its women role to feed the family without a  food budgets

    Agriculture Research should carry out gender mainstreaming in agriculture to reach more women scientist. They should promote Gender in Agriculture by having Agriculture activities and programs for young women scientist in research work. Success stories should encourage the youth who are less interested in Agriculture. Young generation to change their attitude towards agriculture as its dirty work.

    This can be done by having Annual exhibitions, Competitions in agriculture activities for youth and recognition of winners.

    Women spend most of their time undertaking reproductive roles.

    Economically women are disadvantaged so their agricultural activities are not valued.

    These are important activities for a stable family and society at large.

    Women and children do most of agriculture work in the field yet this not also paid. Women are therefore over burdened and stressed most of the time. Making it difficult for her to work efficiently in enterprise that may bring good returns to the family poverty remains a problem in such families.

    Enterprises undertaken by women are mostly temporary because they have limited resources, limited control and decision making as land is owned by men.

    Women limited knowledge especially on technologies leaving them to the mercy of men on their farming .This call participation of all gender to making a favorable working condition for increased agriculture production and productivity

    This positive discrimination towards the disadvantaged gender be addressed by;

    •  Women enterprise fund allocation to support agricultural production and products.
    • Women representative, 2/3 gender rule in appointments. Ensuring women are represented in agriculture activities.
    • Promotion Boy child  and Girl child education awareness in  communities in Kenya
    • Challenging gender status quo through gender sensitive policy and legal frameworks
    • Right based approach to farming and programming along the  numerous agricultural Value chains
    • Participatory Monitoring and evaluation of agricultural enterprise and projects
    • Encourage more participation of women in agribusiness
    • Access the benefit of women and men separately
    • Integrate gender in project implementation and development
    • Extension officer to promote gender in along agricultural value chain.

    Increasing women’s access to land, livestock, education, financial services, extension, technology and rural employment would boost their productivity and generate gains in terms of agricultural production, food security, economic growth and social welfare. Governments, the international community and civil society should work together to eliminate discrimination under the law, to promote equal access to resources and opportunities, to ensure that agricultural policies and programmes are gender-aware, and to make women’s voices heard as equal partners for sustainable development

    Closing the gender gap in agricultural inputs alone could lift large population out of poverty, increase income and improve standards of living. With adequate farm inputs in place, then women have labour and work hard to increase production for food security and for market. Use of  inputs support to women groups has show positive returns in agriculture production and productivity ensuring food security and income.


    Juliana Mandha's picture

    Education, Education, and Education. As Nelson Mandela stated, "Education is the most powerful weapon that you can use to change the world", I totally agree with him. Knowledge is Power. If women are equipped the right knowledge and skills, then they can transform their small-scale Agriculture into large scale. This can be in form of practices to minimize post-harvest losses, diversification of products, better farming methods, better breed varieties, effecting marketing strategies, mitigating climate change, and the list goes on. I should, however, emphasize that education does not begin or end in the classroom. Yes, with more agricultural professionals, there is faster and permanent advancement. The future is secure as this is long term. These researchers can be a source of innovation to Agricultural problems. T. In the short term, community initiatives that offer immediate solutions and skills to women farmers should be scaled up. It is of vital importance that these intiatives are customised or tailored to the community where they opperate because different commnuties face difference challenges hence require different needs.

    Juliana Mandha
    Food scientist with special interest in Nutrition

    Olufolakemi Anjorin's picture

    Cultural norms and power relations are at the root of gender gap in agriculture productivity. Agriculture research can play active role in bridging the gender gap through engagement in systematic reviews that pools together existing evidence of gender gaps. Findings from such reviews can help to articulate the categories of factors that limit women productivity in agriculture, especially for women in subsistence agriculture. The realities in agricultural practice are different for men and women. It is difficult for women to participate in most agriculture leadership forum and discussions due to the need to meet-up with other roles and domestic obligations. Even when women do participate, often times it is with minimal level of influence. The implication is that the challenges faced by women are often not captured, or at least not effectively.
    There is a strong need for research that are focused on qualitative parameters and that offer more in-depth analysis of gender situations that exist in farming communities (for instance ethnographic studies). Several intervention programs attempt to mainstream gender considerations into project that seek to improve agriculture productivity. The challenge is that, the best and most successful models are often not sustainable in the long-term. Often because most of the interventions may not take into account baseline considerations that can inform the design of customized intervention approaches. The reality is that cultural walls are difficult to penetrate and sudden breaking down of cultural walls is also counterproductive. The most lasting solutions to a culture reform is thus to create a crack in existing norms by offering alternatives that have clear benefits over existing practices. This is what I like to call “re-engineering culture and power relations “.
    Feed Africa strategy can help reduce gender gap in agriculture productivity through active and deliberate engagement of women and youth in the commodity value chain. Investing in technologies that reduce drudgery in agricultural production and processing along the value chain. A focus on postharvest technologies will also improve market value of agricultural produce by reducing glut and expanding market potentials.

    Olufolakemi Anjorin
    2010 Fellow
    African Women in Agricultural Research and Development

    Social security has been defined by the International Labour Organization as, “…the protection that a society provides to individuals and households to ensure access to health care and to guarantee income security, particularly in cases of old age, unemployment, sickness, invalidity, work injury, maternity or loss of a breadwinner.” Moreover, ILO notes that in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, only an estimated 5% to 10% of the working population has some social security coverage. An available figure of a section of Sub Saharan Africa (Eastern and Southern Africa) indicates that the proportion of those in formal employment usually constitutes no more than 25% of the total labour force (Kaseke,1997) and it is out of this small proportion that the estimated segment has access to some social security.

    The subsistence sector in Africa remains unreached by social security schemes and as such women play a key role in the provision of social security. Ferrant et al. (2014) notes that around the world, women spend two to ten times more time on unpaid care work than men and unpaid care work is viewed as a female responsibility. The women in essence, subsidize governments in the area of social security provision in both the subsistence agricultural sector and across other sectors of the economy where formal social security systems are lacking (which form the bulk of Sub Saharan Africa economies!). Indeed, women are the default providers of social security, not by choice but rather as part of the gender pecking order. Establishing of social security schemes within the subsistence agriculture sector will not only free up women’s time for other financially rewarding jobs but will also assure women of a cushion in terms of financial security in old age, in the event of incapacitation - both for themselves and for those that are under their care.

    Social security can take the form of a welfare assistance, social insurance, social allowance, provident fund (Kaseke, 1997). The African Development bank, using its flagship program can initiate small community social security programs in the different forms. The more sustainable would be those within which the individuals during their productive years can actively contribute; that is, the contributory forms. This could be done in the agricultural sector by addressing the issue of agricultural value chains and markets to ensure that farmers access high incomes, part of which they can actively contribute to a decentralized provident fund managed by the communities with great transparency and accountability. The success of these can be used as models to improve and scale out across the region. Indeed, this will not benefit only the women in the subsistence farming but will also have the effect of raising community savings and providing a social safety net for individuals. In deed, this will be effective in reducing the incidence of poverty among the most vulnerable members of the community- the elderly, the incapacitated and of course the women (who bear the greater responsibility in terms of caring for those in need in the community).

    Given the contribution of agriculture to the national GDP, governments across the region can be encouraged to institute the non-contributory form of socials security programs to cater for those completely unable to work and the elderly that served in the subsistence agricultural sector (It is disturbing to note that one never fully retires from subsistence farming and thus the plight of those that are employed in the sector throughout their lifetime is that they are caught in a lifelong trap of poverty!). In any case, the failure of governments to institute social security systems in the sector results in sustenance of productive time loss for the women who spend their time ensuring these members of the community are taken care of. The accumulation of lost productive hours results in lower GDP contributions and depresses women’s economic earning and contribution to economic growth over time.




    Olufolakemi Anjorin's picture

    I completely agree with the idea of action research especially using participatory approach. More important is being able to incorporate learning from such research to further develop the intervention programme. A successful programme will take feedback from beneficiaries. 

    Olufolakemi Anjorin
    2010 Fellow
    African Women in Agricultural Research and Development

    It is paramount to monitor and evaluate what AFDB will do to address gender inequality in agricultural production (program, project, pilot etc.). This will answer the questions:

    • Monitoring: are we doing the things right?
    • Evaluation: are we doing the right things?

    Best regards,



    Action Research in Engendered Projects for the Transformation of African Agriculture

    Gender gaps in agriculture productivity are real because majority of African societies value women reproductive roles than their productive roles. Reproductive roles are time consuming and laborious limiting their access to factors of agriculture production such as knowledge networks for inputs and markets, Gender inequality is perpetuated because men enjoy privileges such as land ownership and both decision making on utilization of family resources and control of farm proceeds.  The status quo is entrenched in African societies of patriarchal systems and since the men benefit, the plight of women over the years has been disregarded. Little support was provided for women to exploit their potential in performing productive activities right from family or household level all the way to national level. The scenario is worse for rural women undertaking subsistence agriculture with limited resources to invest in labour or equipment that would ease her performance at home or in the farm. Hence Subsistence agriculture undertaken by rural women makes no economic sense because this is done on small scale, is inefficient lacking modern technologies. But about 80 percent of agriculture is in the hands of small scale farmers majority being women and hence there is need win the support of men to overcome gender barriers for Africa to attain food security.  Deliberate efforts should be made to assist African societies to change their systems and attitude to loosen up power relations between men and women preventing them from pursuing opportunities for improved livelihoods.

    Most development programmes in Kenya that I have been involved in embarked on addressing the gender gaps through sensitization and capacity building projects, advocacy for increased women representation at community and policy level, linking women to cheap credit such as government funds like the women and youth enterprise funds and, opportunities like the 30 percent government procurement tenders set aside for youth and persons with disabilities. Some contemporary approaches such as value chain development and innovation system have a component of social inclusion that attempts to increase participation of women and youth in value chain. But women benefit partially from these opportunities due to inherent low socio-economic position due to gender differences not fully addressed in the projects.  However there are successful engendered agriculture projects models mentioned in this forum with a heavy gender focus that can be a reference point for new projects. Since gender gaps in agriculture vary in different places and at any one given time, an action research can capture diversity of the areas and provide real time information on efforts to bridge gender gaps. Action research is context specific and cyclic marked by problem or situational analysis, developing action points or interventions, evaluating change,  learning and adjusting project activities until desired situation is achieved. I concur with Chikundi on promoting action learning and documenting success stories but add that participatory approaches be adopted too at the beginning of the project to envision gendered outcomes among the key stakeholders. The research team should comprise bright men and women, inspired with great intentions and big hearts to run with the vision of change. Since gender is embedded in other societal needs then a gender research team should be multi-disciplinary to promote identified priority agriculture value chains that are preferred by youth and women but a gender savvy researcher at the centre of the project to champion gender and tease out the gender issues that need to be addressed even at policy level. The African development bank can patner with organizations with similar interests in order to leverage on their knowledge and funds to maximize learning and outcome of the projects.

    Beatrice Tuei

    AWARD fellow- Kenya. 2009



    Comment la disparité entre les sexes dans la productivité agricole se produit-elle et pourquoi ?

    La productivité agricole peut être atteinte à travers la maitrise des facteurs suivants :

    • L’accès  aux terres fertiles: Traditionnellement l’accès des femmes aux terres fertiles est très faible voire impossible dans certains milieu. Par conséquent le peu de  terres dont disposent les femmes enregistre de faible rendement, même si  de plus en plus de projets et programmes appuient  les femmes à accéder aux terres aménagées. Mais cette proportion de terre accessible aux femmes reste  encore très faible. Le quota de 30% est en général proposé, mais les pesanteurs socio-culturelles pèsent lourdement sur cette balance.
    • La maitrise de l’eau: Dans un contexte de changement climatique, les pluies sont inégalement réparties dans le temps et dans l’espace. Cela s’accompagne de plus en plus,  de catastrophes naturels (inondation, lessivage des terres, pression parasitaire). Le calendrier cultural s’est trouvé modifié. Les paysans ne savent comment planifier les productions. Pour pallier à cela, les pays proposent des variétés hâtives aux paysans et les spéculations proposées ne tiennent pas compte des besoins réels des deux sexes.
    • L’accès aux intrants: Un paysan africain utilise 4 fois moins d’engrais qu’un paysan chinois. Nous savons également qu’en Afrique, les revenus des femmes ne leurs permettent pas d’acheter, au même titre que les hommes, les quantités d’engrain  requises pour l’amendement de leurs champs. Les intrants subventionnés parviennent en très faible proportion  aux femmes et ne sont pas à la hauteur de leurs  besoins réels.
    • Le respect du calendrier cultural: Dans les ménages, les travaux des champs familiaux sont exécutés en priorités et les  femmes ne peuvent s’y déroger. Le temps restant est partagé aux niveaux suivants:
    • la preparation des aliments, l’approvisionnement en eau, en  bois de chauffe;
    • l’entretien des  enfants, de l’époux et des personnes âgées;
    • enfin l’implication dans les activités sociales.

    Avec de telles occupations, l’entretien du champ personnel de la femme se trouve relégué au 2nd plan, seulement lorsqu’elle arrive à dégager  un « temps libre ». Les  taches culturales s’exécutant avec un retard  ne sont pas sans conséquence sur ses rendements. En effet, nous savons que l’un des facteurs déterminant pour la bonne productivité d’un champs est le respect du calendrier cultural.

    Quel est le rôle de la recherche dans le domaine de l’agriculture dans la réduction de cette disparité entre les sexes ?

    La recherche devrait réaliser des diagnostics participatifs avec une bonne participation des femmes et les phases d’expérimentation devront également inclure leur participation. Sur la base des diagnostics participatifs la recherche devrait pouvoir  toucher du doigt les problèmes spécifiques des femmes et proposer des solutions appropriées. Les technologies proposées devraient tenir compte des réalités financières et des capacités d’endettement du groupe cible.

    Il faut également créer des cadres de diffusion  des technologies éprouvées accessibles aux femmes.

    Quelles sont les implications de cet écart entre les sexes, en particulier pour les femmes dans l'agriculture de subsistance ?

    Les principales spéculations utilisées par les femmes concernent les produits de subsistances. Ces produits de subsistances n’ayant aucun intérêt économique pour nos pays, les chercheurs s’y intéressent très peu. Très peu de semences des produits de subsistance ont pu faire l’objet d’une amélioration variétale. Dans un contexte de changement climatique ou les aléas  sont choses courantes, cela aurait pu améliorer les rendements déjà faibles des semences des produits de subsistance. Dans ce contexte, des efforts pour renforcer la résilience populations vulnérables devraient être fournis à travers l’amélioration des variétés des semences des produits de subsistances.

    Comment ces réalités sont-elles intégrées dans les interventions et les projets visant à réduire l'écart entre les sexes dans la productivité agricole et à relever les défis de l'agriculture de subsistance ?

    A mon avis ces  réalités  ne sont pas suffisamment prises en compte dans les stratégies des projets et programmes de développement. Bon nombre adoptent des stratégies d’accès à la terre, mais très peu s’investissent dans toute la chaine de valeur. Notamment sur les aspects d’accès de manière durable aux intrants (engrais, semence) et au petit équipement agricole  à travers des mécanismes pérennes. Les institutions de financement étant peu enclines à s’investir dans la production agricole (crédit d’intrant et de petits équipements, infrastructures de conservation…). Elles préfèrent accompagner les activités de transformation et le commerce où le retour d’investissement est très rapide.

    Ces projets et programmes accompagnent très peu les femmes dans les activités de post récolte, pour réduire les pertes pendant le stockage et le transport. L’approche devrait être une approche chaine de valeurs ;

    Comment la BAD, à travers les initiatives et programmes phares de la Stratégie pour nourrir l'Afrique ; pourrait-elle réduire l'écart entre les sexes dans la productivité agricole et soutenir une base solide pour la transformation agricole de l'Afrique ?

    La BAD devrait :

    • Adopter une approche pôle de concentration intégré qui prennent en compte les spécificités liées au sexe spécialisations en fonction des potentialités et des contraintes du milieu ;
    • Adopter l’approche chaine de valeur  et  la professionnalisation des femmes dans les activités ;
    • S’assurer que dans tous ces programmes de développement, la question des inégalités de genre est prise en charge par le personnel (recrutés, prestataires, services techniques partenaires) qui met en œuvre le projet
    • Travailler sur l’organisation des petites productrices à travers la mise en place de « grappe »pour mutualiser les actons d’accès au crédit, d’augmentation de l’offre des produits et  de satisfaction de la demande etc ; Ce qui facilitera les activités de sensibilisation et renforcement des capacités, d’organisation et de professionnalisation des acteurs ;
    • Accompagner les femmes à accéder au petit équipement et aux infrastructures de stockage à l’échelle individuel ou collectif ;
    • Les activités d’accès à la terre doivent être accompagnées de façon durable par d’autres actions : (i) accès aux intrants de qualité (semence, engrais…) , (ii) équipement de production et de transformation, inf
    • Quelles initiatives réussies sur l’augmentation de la productivité agricole des femmes pourraient être amplifiées par la BAD ?

    Le programme d’appui aux filières agro-sylvo-pastorale au Burkina Faso a développé une approche chaine de valeur. Il a travaillé sur la structuration des acteurs. Le renforcement des capacités techniques a été une activité sur laquelle un accent  particulier a été mis.  Le système de financement mis en place (subvention a cout partagés) a permis dans les principaux bassins de production d’oignons de doter les  productrices et producteurs d’intrants, d’infrastructures ou d’équipements de production, de conservation. Il faut noter que ces infrastructures sont individuelles ou communautaires. Une autre initiative réussie au niveau de  ce programme est la réalisation d’infrastructures marchandes (centre de groupage).  La production de l’oignon ayant augmenté, le projet a contribué à réaliser  d’un centre de groupage et de tri des oignons. Ce lieu sert également de point de vente et permet d’éviter que la vente ne se fasse au niveau bord champs.  L’oignon est ainsi stocké pendant une période allant de 3 mois à 6 mois et vendu ensuite  des prix remurérateurs (variation du prix de 5000 f à 35000 FCFA le sac de 100 kg). Le centre de groupage est  fédérateur pour la concertation des bénéficiaires (réunion), la réalisation des formations et il facilite les appui-conseils, l’accès au crédit, la commercialisation etc …



    1. Cette disparité est à rechercher d’abord dans le manque de moyens de production et non pas les moyens financiers pour acquérir les terres, les outils et de ce fait le travail est très pénible.
    2. Le rôle de la recherche est de réduire la pénibilité du travail, d’augmenter le rendement de la production ce qui impactera de façon globale toute la vie des exploitantes.
    3. Les implications de cet écart entre les sexes, en particulier pour les femmes dans l’agriculture de subsistance sont que les femmes sont toujours sous la dépendance de leurs conjoints ; elles manquent de ressources financières pour prendre en charge leur progéniture.
    4. Les interventions et les projets visant à réduire l’écart entre les sexes dans la productivité agricole et à relever les défis de l’agriculture de subsistance en finançant la recherche sur les moyens de production en proposant des engrais pour l’amélioration du sol et surtout en intégrant l’alphabétisation dans les projets.
    5. La BAD à travers les initiatives et programmes phares de la stratégie pour nourrir l’Afrique pourrait réduire l’écart entre les sexes dans la productivité  et soutenir une transformation agricole de l’Afrique en renforçant son partenariat avec les projets existants, ce qu’elle fait déjà avec le projet IFDC C4CP, etc. et en soutenant tout projet qui augmenterait l’accès des femmes à la terre,  aux intrants. Elle pourrait aussi octroyer des crédits pour que les femmes puissent recourir à la main-d’œuvre salariale.

    Gaba ep.Bakari
    Formatrice au sein de la FEFA. Fédération des femmes Entrepreneurs et Femmes d'affaires du BENIN



    Comment la disparité entre les sexes dans la productivité agricole se produit-elle et pourquoi ?

    La disparité entre les sexes dans la productivité agricole se produit parce qu’on ne respecte pas  l’autre (la femme) et on lui donne pas  les moyens qu’il faut pour produire comme elle veut.

    Quel est le rôle de la recherche dans le domaine de l’agriculture dans la réduction de cette disparité entre les sexes ?

    Le rôle de la recherche dans le domaine de l’agriculture pour la réduction de cette disparité entre les sexes ; C’est amener les décideurs à considérer que les sexes sont égaux et les  traiter d’une manière équitable. La recherche doit mettre en place un dispositif de suivi rigoureux pour réduire cette disparité de sexe.   

    Quelles sont les implications de cet écart entre les sexes, en particulier pour les femmes dans l'agriculture de subsistance ?

    Les implications de cet écart entre les sexes, en particulier pour les femmes dans l'agriculture de subsistance c’est mettre les deux sexes face  à face et les parler sincèrement ; si ont laisse la femme à la traine de l'agriculture de subsistance on ne sortira pas de la faim et du  bien être de la famille et du développement en générale.

    Comment ces réalités sont-elles intégrées dans les interventions et les projets visant à réduire l'écart entre les sexes dans la productivité agricole et à relever les défis de l'agriculture de subsistance.

    Ces réalités sont intégrées dans les interventions en respectant le milieu propre à chaque communauté, et le projet vise à parler avec les dignitaires en commençant par les plus hautes autorités de chaque pays  jusqu’à au fin fond du village afin de réduire l’écart des sexes dans la productivité agricole. Pour relever les défis de l’agriculture de subsistance il faut associer les deux sexes et leur donner les moyens qu’il faut pour produire et permettre un respect mutuel.   

    Comment la BAD, à travers les initiatives et programmes phares de la Stratégie pour nourrir l'Afrique ; pourrait-elle réduire l'écart entre les sexes dans la productivité agricole et soutenir une base solide pour la transformation agricole de l'Afrique ?

    La Banque Africaine de Développement(BAD), à travers les initiatives et programmes phares de la Stratégie pour nourrir l'Afrique pourrait réduire l'écart entre les sexes dans la productivité agricole en mettant en place un plan spécifique à chaque pays africain et parler beaucoup plus avec la base et surtout les chefs traditionnels qui ont une influence certaine sur leur communauté ; Mettre en place les moyens agricoles( charrue, charrette semences etc. aux deux sexes en leur expliquant que la  BAD voudrait que chaque Africain doit manger à ça faim et pour cela tout le monde doit travailler la terre (homme comme femme) et voir dans ça, l’avancement de sa communauté et  de sa famille. Pour avoir une base solide pour la transformation de l’agriculture de l’Afrique il faut investir massivement dans les petits agriculteurs (trices) avec les moyens simples comme charrue, charrette, semences améliorées et progressivement vers l’agriculture mécanisé. Cette  transformation agricole doit intégrer dés le départ les deux sexes en expliquant de long en large le respect de l’autre et chaque sexe doit avoir les moyens à savoir l’accès à  la terre sans discrimination pour permettre un développement harmonieux pour l’Afrique.

    Quelles initiatives réussies sur l’augmentation de la productivité agricole des femmes pourraient être amplifiées par la BAD ?

    L’initiative réussie sur l’augmentation de la productivité agricole des femmes que la BAD pourraient  amplifier c’est accordé des crédits, accordé des crédits  de matériels agricole au même titre que les hommes, intensifié l’alphabétisation de ces femmes pour leur permettre de s’ouvrir au monde.   



    My comments are structured in the form of responses to the questions raised Under this topic:

    How does the gender gap in agricultural productivity occur and why?
    While the low access to knowledge, inputs and finance remains a general feature in agriculture for both men and women, women are most challenged by this constraint. Furthermore, the prevailing culture in societies / communities and even the institutions trying to serve them is not always pro-women (or at least not gender sensitive enough) in their mind set and approaches. In light of the above, women participation in improving agricultural production and productivity remains marginal. The low benefits from the engaged activities by women in agriculture are an additional dis-incentive for them to express their full potential. This context leads to the confinement of women to a subsistence agriculture where the use of knowledge, inputs and finance remains marginal. With the limited access to market for this type of agriculture to markets, it becomes clear that subsistence agriculture, thanks to women!, plays an important role in household food security.

    What is the role of agricultural research in bridging the gender gap?
    One front on which agricultural research could be more active is in providing fact based data to demonstrate the loss in production (yield and value addition) due to the non-participation of women in agriculture value chains. This calls for innovative field research using multidisciplinary and participatory approaches as opposed to classical station and lab research (unfortunately, this may not be attractive to a typical / average research). The findings of such research can be used as justification / persuasion tool towards politicians, decision makers and planners to take corrective measures.

    What are the implications of this gender gap, especially for women in subsistence agriculture?
    Regardless of the women’s noble role in making a significant contribution to household food security, subsistence agriculture unfortunately does not help them break away from poverty. The low productivity and its subsequent impact of income and low to no access to market perpetuate the poverty loop, with women at the center of it.

    How have these realities been integrated into interventions and projects to reduce the gender gap in agricultural productivity and address the challenges of subsistence agriculture?
    Not very well integrated, if one looks at the part of the projects costs specifically dedicated to activities targeting women as an indicator. This can be due to: a) the prevailing gender-insensitive culture in the country / community where the project is being appraised

    (a general trend across African rural areas) leading to the absence of an active voice of women’s needs;
    b) the scarce / absent gender analytical work does not help in providing clear indications in terms of design and activities on where most impact on women economic empowerment can be achieved by the project;
    c) appraisal teams are not systematically equipped with the right skills and sensitivities in terms of gender;
    d) retained activities targeting women are not always adequately implemented and followed upon.

    How should the Bank’s Feed Africa Strategy; through its flagship initiatives and programmes be used to reduce the gender gap in agricultural productivity and support a strong foundation for Africa’s agricultural transformation?
    By providing corrective measures to the issues brought up before in this contribution. Also, capitalizing the outcome of the mid-term review of the Bank-Gender Strategy. I recall that a group of AfDB agriculture sector specialists provided inputs to the mid-term review consultancy. This report should provide some insights, however, I personally do not know its status.

    Which successful initiatives on women’s agricultural productivity could be scaled up by the AfDB?
    Livestock (goats, sheep) pass on schemes in Zambia / Ghana There are probably others known by other colleagues.


    B. Boulanouar


    Dear colleagues,

    Thank you for this inspiring exchange - generating so many great ideas, energies and passion around the topic of gender and agriculture. Having worked long in this space, it is especially encouraging to take not of the agreement that closing the gender gaps is essential for agriculture and societies to thrive. But also, that there are so many new young people bringing innovative solutions to the table.

    We are delighted that the findings from our joint UN Women, UNDP-UN Environment Poverty-Environment Initiative and World Bank report costing the gender gap in agricultural productivity in Malawi, Tanzania and Uganda (2015) are used as one basis for the e-discussion.

    The report in its entirety shows that the poverty reduction effectiveness of interventions can be substantively improved when gender gaps are addressed. Indeed, these are important measures. In addition to the poverty reduction effectiveness results, closing the gap could bring about gross gains to GDP of $100 million in Malawi, $105 million in Tanzania and $67 million in Uganda—along with other positive development outcomes such as greater food security.

    This data has been particularly important because it has strengthened our ability to negotiate with Governments and other actors that closing the gender gap also brings benefits to all, including to the sector.

    Indeed, the report found that the gender gap in agricultural productivity is primarily driven by gender differences in access to (male) labor, to agricultural implements including pesticides and fertilizers as well as the fact that women farmers tend not to grow cash or high value crops. A similar exercise by UN Women and the Poverty-Environment Initiative in Rwanda (2017) arrived at similar conclusions. Women's limited access to labour is also linked to their increased involvement in unpid work (globally, women do 2.5 times more of that compared to men).

    In Rwanda almost half of the gender gap in agricultural productivity is due to gender-based differences in access to productive inputs. In many instances, women farmers have lower levels of the water, improved seeds, fertilizers, insecticides and agricultural tools, including post-harvest technologies, needed for their farming livelihoods. At the same time, more than half of the gender gap in agricultural productivity in Rwanda was explained by gender-based differences in the returns that accrued to those productive inputs. In other words, in many instances, women farmers are paid less for their farm products than men.

    Everywhere, as mentioned, women provide most of the unpaid care work in households and this holds back women’s productive engagement.

    The main implication of the gender gap for women farmers is that they produced lower yields than their male counterparts with impacts on food security and suboptimal opportunities for economic empowerment. Indeed, our report fund that if the gender gap in agricultural productivity would be addressed in Malawi, crop production could increase by 7.3% improving incomes and food security for both women farmers, their families and communities as well as the nation as a whole.  

    Informed by the findings of the 2015 study and  with technical inputs from UN Women and the Poverty-Environment Initiative, the Government of Malawi included a strong focus on women farmers in its recently adopted National Agricultural Policy (September 2016).  The policy states that: ‘Closing the gender gap and addressing the socio-economic barriers faced by the youth has the potential to boost annual agriculture GDP’. This will be achieved by promoting access to, ownership and control of productive and financial resources and enhanced opportunities for entrepreneurship and participation in agriculture value addition. The policy also has a focus on enhancing investments in climate-smart agriculture and strengthens sustainable land, soil and water management including integrated soil fertility management, irrigation and sustainable use of agrobiodiversity.

    To reduce the gender gap in agricultural productivity women’s access to climate-resilient productive assets, technologies and skills as well as finances are needed supported by enabling social norms and practices. This will not only enhance women’s productivity but also reduce labour burdens as increased access to productive assets improves productivity and reduces the labour intensity of sustainable farming systems (UN Women, 2015).

    UN Women is also currently implementing a pilot project in Kenya to increase the access to postharvest technologies for women in mango production. The project- embedded in the wider Rockefeller Foundation YieldWise Initiative-  aims at providing a clear understanding of  women’s needs, aspirations and other social and economic factors that influence acquisition of post-harvest and value addition technologies by women farmers. Improved access to technologies and their uptake are needed to address most of the bottlenecks that women face within agriculture to enhance their productivity through better storage and value addition.This is another promising area as we believe there can be a real breakthrough in rolling out technologies, once women's views, constraints, etc are brought into the design and roll-out.

    The African Development Bank can play a particular role in promoting women farmers access to finance by for example working with  Governments and its partners to establish specific and direct credit lines for women that bridge the gap women face in getting access to finance and spur investments in technologies, agricultural implements, and investments in infrastructure which has women’s concerns in mind, reducing unpaid work, providing energy and water, and financing post-harvest solutions and other technologies. It can also support partners to work to strengthen women’s capacities to also grow farming into business, including ability to harness new approaches, innovations, and financing.

    Also, and currently, UN Women with PEI-UN Environment-UNDP want to roll out the Cost of the Gender Gap study in more countries, and deepen engagement around its findings. This can leverage new solution, both on the policy and programmatic fronts. Partnering and supporting this initiative, rolling out the methodology further and hence creating a critical stock of knowledge around gender and agriculture, could be another great opportunity.

    Looking forward to continue working together -

    Best regards,
    Asa Torkelsson, Jacinta Okwaro UN Women, and Moa Westman, PEI-UN Environment- UNDP

    Agricultural research should promote the production of safe, quality and standard agro commodities that meet specific or target markets. Where majority of the produce are highly perishable with little or no storage facilities, deterioration and contamination abound, leading to post harvest losses and financial losses as well. Research emphasis should be on reducing post harvest losses through appropriate preservation, storage, modified packaging, processing into stable products. The much desired gains will be realized if demand driven agricultural research are tailored to ameliorate the challenges faced by actors in the sector from farm to fork. In view of the tropical nature of the continent coupled with poor generation of electricity in some parts, alternative power supply such as the solar should be utilized to provide cold chain facilities for storage of fresh produce. Commodity based research institutes located within regions where such commodities are produced should provide technical support from the farm to the consumption  (fork)  level to farmers/processors  especially women that may be disadvantaged.

    Juliana Mandha's picture

    Agribusiness is another initiative that could be scaled up by the AfDB. In Uganda for example, 70% of the population lives in rural areas and are smallholder farmers. However almost half of the population lives below a dollar per day. Uganda is also known as the Pearl of Africa has favorable climate and fertile soils for farming. However, there is a mismatch between agricultural productivity and the income, more so at the household level. Women farmers need entrepreneurship and agribusiness skills to gain a competitive advantage of their produce. And with the integration of the East African community, they have to be ready and equipped to maximize opportunities while minimizing risks.


    Juliana Mandha
    Food scientist with special interest in Nutrition



    To handle the issue of gender in agriculture is a combined effort and all participants must understand the reason and the main objective which is strengthening the African economies. African traditional cultures to some extent have contributed to the imbalance in gender in agriculture for instance, Mulenga a subsistence farmer and fisherman in Luapula province Zambia owns a 2ha traditional land and  only uses his piece of land during the rainy season (November-April), during this period the whole family is expected to participate in securing food when the rains are no more. During off season Mulenga is a full time fisherman, he sales his fish at the fish markets and to wholesalers. From the scenario above one would realise that only the head of the house responsibilities are recognized more to the feeding of the family and the community, and here thus the were the problem comes. During the farming season mulenga leaves with the wife and children to go farm, after their day's work she collects firewood and vegetables for the family and when she gets home she fetches water and prepares dinner for her family.(The tasks that Mulenga's wife does are not recognized as effort to build an economy in our African traditional society)

    African communities need to appreciate one another's effort in the building of our economies. Each member plays an important  role. In Africa for the Gender in Agriculture to be a success it must start from the grassroot, everyone should understand the objective and this can be done by training peer to peer trainings in our communities to share knowledge and get people involved in the gender gap. In some communities there crops known to be only farmed by men and some by women only, this can balanced by first analyzing the nutritional value of the crops and its value on the market when traded and when both men and women efforts are put together. Small scale farmers, Marginalized men and women and youths efforts have to be recognized in the building of the economy, finding markets for their produce and providing them advisory services and know how.

    Olufolakemi Anjorin's picture



    Increased Inclusivity, Sustainability, and Nutrition were identified as enabler in the Feed Africa Strategy.  To fully maximize the potential of these enablers, it is important to scale-up successful program in the area of nutrition, especially with a focus on women nutrition.  In addition to a comprehensive nutrition that focuses on women and children, it is important to also increase market access. From my perspective and maybe this is based on where I stand and my experience in working with rural women,  Africa’s problem is not so much of not producing enough, it is rather not making sufficient financial returns from what is produced.  I work with a group of women farmers who produce vegetables (fluted pumpkins to be specific), we have explored options to increase market, but the challenges are similar to the whole story of poor post-harvest management system.  Poor cold chain system, high cost of transportation, poor infrastructure to access farm (poor road) and others remain challenging. To feed Africa on a sustainable basis and with nutritious food options a focus on nutrition security and not just food production is key. 

    Gender Informed Nutrition and Agriculture (GINA) Alliance piloted in Uganda, Mozambique and Nigeria will be a good example of successful initiative to scale-up.

    Olufolakemi Anjorin
    2010 Fellow
    African Women in Agricultural Research and Development



    Investing more into agribusiness. where women farmers and the youth are given training and support in agribusiness incubation and are mentored over a period of time before they are left on their own. Some of the agribusiness incubation process could look at where women and the youth can function better along the various nodes of the value chain and their competence enhanced to make them more economically independent. The other option is also to provide real time market system information for farmers especially female farmers who are constrained by mobility so they can determine the prices at which they sell their produce. Mobile phones are available in most farming communities and information on markets can be easily disseminated through the mobile phone platforms in real time can be adapted



    Women have less assess to agricultural resources. Giving women similar assess as men to resources will increase production on women's farms in developing countries. This will increase total agricultural production in developing countries. and in turn lessen the number of starving populace in the whole world.


    I believe one of the ways to increase agricultural production by women is to link them to inputs and services. The hub model has proved successful in likning farmers with buyers, input suppliers, credit, and access to training and technical assistance. This model has been sucessfully implemented in smallholder dairy systems in East Africa and some hubs are even growing into rural financial institutions. The Ol Kalau Dairy Cooperative Society in the Central Highlands of Kenya is one such example. In addition to milk marketing, and availing inputs and services to members on credit, the dairy also deliberately gives contracts for milk transportation to women and the youth, to boost their income, hence making them more credit-worthy and empowering them to make greater investments in dairy production. The hub model addresses the complete product value chain and may be focused on any commodity.   

    Stephen Wamalwa's picture

    Succesful Agricultural consulting services to smallholder farms by Smart Fertilizer East Africa

    AfDB can help us with up-scaling and strengthening these areas that has been pillars for  Smart Fertilizer East Africa since initiation in 2015, being  agricultural based consultancy company established after extensive experience by the founder in various busy agricultural setups and concluded that poor agricultural practices especially on lack of apecific agricultural system suitable in diverse smallholder farming environments not only  obstruct  accesses to lucrative international market but also the cause of the continuous decline of crop yield, increased poverty and deteriorating farming ecosystems among smallholder farms, which is mostly controlled by women and youth. We offer:

    1. Precise, affordable and timely Soil evaluation, monitoring and management
    2. Proactive interventions towards mitigating drought and managing effects
    3. Training smallholder farms to meet minimum requirements for GlobalGAP Certification
    4. Blending and repackaging fertilizer into affordable units
    5. Management of Soilless production, ( Hydroponics and aeroponics)
    6. Specific recommendations and Evaluation of irrigation water both in quality and quantity

    Currently we achieved to develop specific agricultural practices suitable for farms such as Algoma in mweiga specializing in vegetable productions, Meru greens farm in Embu (growers and exporters of fruits and vegetables) and herb growers in Muranga county. We aspire to increase our client base locally and beyond. However, lack of financial resource and mentorship has derailed our original plan of fulfilling entire 6 pillars, in which we argue that when we optimize the focus on these 6 pillars then smallholder farms will be able to reverse declining crop yield, reverse soil nutrient depletion, reduce vulnerability of smallholders farms to ravaging effects of climate change and reduce dependency to local market.




    Comment la disparité entre les sexes dans la productivité agricole se produit-elle et pourquoi ?
    Le rôle que les femmes jouent dans l'agriculture varie selon la région et le pays.

    Dans les pays en développement, la répartition du travail selon le genre attribue aux femmes diverses tâches dans différents domaines (petite agriculture, élevage de bétail et travaux ménagers) si bien qu’elles sont chargées de répondre à des besoins fondamentaux et d’assurer la survie de la famille.

    Les femmes assument d’importantes activités dans le domaine de la production alimentaire pour la famille. Ces activités vont de la gestion des semences à la culture de produits agricoles, au stockage, à la transformation et à la commercialisation de certains produits. Dans les petites exploitations agricoles pratiquant une économie de subsistance, leur rôle est particulièrement important dans la mesure où les hommes s’intéressent plus à la production marchande.

    Et pourtant, leur rôle dans la sécurité alimentaire est encore très peu reconnu ou pris en considération par les institutions. De plus, les données ventilées par sexe demeurent insuffisantes pour pouvoir chiffrer exactement les contributions apportées par les femmes à la production agricole. Ces données associées à des études sur le terrain, des évaluations rurales participatives et des analyses selon les genres permettent de tirer des conclusions relatives au nombre et à la nature des multiples rôles joués par les femmes dans le contexte de la production agricole et de la sécurité alimentaire.

    Dans les systèmes de production en Afrique de l’Ouest, les femmes constituent la main d’œuvre par excellence surtout en ce qui concerne le coton conventionnel. En plus des tâches domestiques qu’elles doivent assurer quotidiennement, elles interviennent dans le semis, le sarclage (coton et céréales de l’exploitation) et surtout la récolte du coton où la qualité de leur travail est de plus en plus reconnue. Par conséquent elles ont peu de temps à consacrer à leurs parcelles individuelles dans lesquelles elles cultivent les spéculations nécessaires à la survie de la communauté (céréales, légumineuses, produits maraîchers)

    La différence la plus flagrante entre hommes et femmes dans la culture conventionnelle du coton se situe à l’échelle de l’accès aux moyens de production et aux coopératives de production de petits exploitants, qui assurent la distribution des engrais minéraux et des pesticides de synthèse. Pour des raisons culturelles et sociales, les femmes n’ont pas accès à ces coopératives de producteurs de coton. Les structures coopératives sont dominées pour la plupart par les hommes et elles ne prennent pas en compte les besoins des femmes.

    Néanmoins, dans la plupart des zones, des groupements féminins existent, mais ils sont moins structurés et ne disposent pas de pouvoir pour influencer les prises de décision.

    Malgré les avancées dans certains pays, l’inégalité des genres perdure de bien des façons et compromet la sécurité alimentaire et nutritionnelle des populations.

    Il est donc important de rendre visible l’apport des femmes et d’accorder une priorité bien plus grande à la participation accrue de celles-ci à la production commerciale (cultures de rente). La sécurité alimentaire ne peut rester dans une approche « neutre des besoins » qui ne prend pas en considération de manière spécifique les situations sociales et les droits des femmes et des hommes. 

    Quelles sont les implications de cet écart entre les sexes, en particulier pour les femmes ans l'agriculture de subsistance ?
    La disparité entre les sexes  dans la productivité agricole entraîne de multiples problèmes pour les femmes surtout dans les systèmes de production coton des pays comme le Mali, le Burkina Faso, le Togo et le Bénin entre autres.

    Ces problèmes sont notamment les suivants :

    • L’absence des femmes des instances de décision: Dans la plupart des pays membres de l’Association des Producteurs de Coton Africains AProCA, il est constaté de façon criarde l’inexistence des femmes dans les instances de décision des coopératives et groupements de producteurs de coton de la base au sommet (des coopératives de base aux faîtières). L’AProCA regroupe 15 pays producteurs de coton en Afrique de l’Ouest et du Centre et les femmes sont absentes des instances de prise de décision des coopératives des pays membres ;
    • Faible niveau d'organisation des femmes: faible niveau de structuration des groupements féminins qui n'arrivent pas à trouver des solutions aux problèmes réels de leurs membres (faibles capacités de communication, de négociation et de leadership);
    • Un bas niveau de formation : Le faible niveau d’éducation des femmes complique leur formation et limite leur participation à la gestion des coopératives ;
    • Faible accès à la terre : Dans le système coton en général, les femmes disposent de droits fonciers précaires : l’accès à la terre pour les femmes productrices relève du droit foncier traditionnel dans lequel elles n’ont qu’un droit d’usage sur les terres ;
    • Faible prise en compte des besoins en intrants, par les chefs d'exploitation et les coopératives villageoises: les parcelles personnelles des femmes concernent surtout des spéculations comme l'arachide, le niébé ou parfois les céréales pour lesquelles les besoins en intrants ne sont pas pris en compte par les structures d'encadrement et de surcroît par les coopératives villageoises;
    • Faible niveau d’équipement, engendrant des retards par rapport au calendrier agricole à respecter : les parcelles des femmes sont en général labourées en retard et très grande majorité des productrices déclare avoir des difficultés à collecter et à amener sur le champ la matière organique nécessaire à la fertilisation (plusieurs tonnes par hectare), faute de matériel de transport.
    • Faible accès aux crédits : les systèmes classiques de crédits de soutien à la production agricole ne favorisent pas l'accès des femmes aux services financiers;
    • Faible niveau d'information et de technicité des femmes : les approches et la plupart des modules de formation ne tiennent pas compte des spécificités liées au genre ;
    • Encadrement insuffisant et inadapté des femmes, faible diffusion des résultats de recherche et des semences améliorées;
    • Surcharge des femmes : compétition entre travaux domestiques, champs collectifs, parcelles individuelles;
    • Difficultés d'écoulement, de conservation et de transformation des produits agricoles ;
    • Répartition inéquitable des revenus des exploitations cotonnières : peu de chefs d'exploitations procèdent à une répartition équitable des revenus issus de la commercialisation du coton. Ce facteur engendre la démotivation des femmes et des jeunes qui travaillent le plus sur les parcelles.

    Comment ces réalités sont-elles intégrées dans les interventions et les projets visant à réduire l'écart entre les sexes dans la productivité agricole et à relever les défis de l'agriculture de subsistance ?

    Cas des projets de production du coton biologique et bio-équitable: Face à la crise de la filière du coton conventionnel, le développement de la production de coton bio-équitable a représenté une possibilité de diversification agricole. L’intérêt des femmes pour cette culture illustre cette recherche de revenus complémentaires, qui leur est indispensable pour assumer une partie des charges familiales. Cependant, la fragilité des dimensions économiques et environnementales de la filière risque de mettre en péril les avantages acquis dans ce cadre.

    Selon les recherches effectuées, de nombreuses femmes déçues de la culture conventionnelle optent pour la culture biologique du coton. Les campagnes de promotion de la culture et les groupes de travail les intègrent en leur confiant une parcelle de terre, où elles peuvent prendre des décisions librement. Les graines et fertilisants que requiert la culture biologique du coton pour contrôler les parasites sont disponibles sur place et nettement moins onéreux que les produits de synthèse. Comme les moyens de production ne sont pas entre les mains de grandes entreprises et sociétés cotonnières, les femmes ne sont plus assujetties aux coopératives de producteurs dominées par les hommes pour se procurer la semence et les fertilisants dont elles ont besoin.

    Par ailleurs, le marché du coton biologique garantit des prix bien supérieurs en raison des primes et de la vente garanties des récoltes, qui assurent des rentrées d’argent régulières et constituent finalement l’argument décisif en faveur de la culture biologique.

    Dans le cadre de la filière coton biologique et bio-équitable, les inégalités de genre sont ainsi amoindries par notamment, la mise en place de crédits d’équipement bonifiés pour les femmes, l’organisation de sessions de formation spécifiques par les projets intervenant dans le domaine (Benin, Burkina Faso, Mali, Sénégal), une meilleure organisation de la ccommercialisation.

    Cas du projet C4CP: Dans les interventions de ce projet la dimension genre a été prise en compte, notamment dans les modules de formation qui sont genre sensibles.

    Le projet à installé 22 champs de démonstration à dominance femmes dans les 4 pays pour tester les modules innovants genre sensibles sur les BPA (Bonnes Pratiques Agricoles) et les activités de post-récolte (PR).

    A travers ces installations des champs de démonstration, il a été démontré qu’avec un accompagnement léger, la femme peut surmonter beaucoup de ces contraintes pour lui permettre de mieux produire et d’améliorer ses revenues et son bien-être social.

    Aussi, l’organisation d’un atelier régional à Bamako sur l’accès des femmes aux ressources productives a permis d’analyser les contraintes et de proposer des solutions idoines.

    Quelles initiatives réussies sur l’augmentation de la productivité agricole des femmes pourraient être amplifiées par la BAD ?
    Dans le système coton, la BAD devrait s’intéresser au développement de la culture biologique, non seulement du coton, mais des autres spéculations réservées aux femmes (céréales, soja, sésame, arachide, niébé notamment). Ces cultures permettront de procurer des revenus additionnels aux femmes et de préserver notre environnement.

    Le développement de ces cultures passe par :

    • L’amélioration de la productivité agricole à travers les propositions de la recherche ;
    • La mise en place de lignes de crédits bonifiés pour les femmes ;
    • La facilitation de l’accès des femmes aux équipements agricoles ;
    • La formation des femmes sur les itinéraires techniques par l’appui à l’élaboration de modules genre sensibles ;
    • L’organisation de la commercialisation au niveau régional entre les différents pays afin que les femmes tirent un meilleur profit de leurs produits ;
    • L’organisation de la filière céréalière surtout les aspects liés à la commercialisation et la valorisation des excédents. L'organisation des filières céréalières est d'une grande importance, afin que les producteurs et productrices trouvent des meilleurs prix. À ce titre les banques de céréales et les magasins de stockage villageois méritent une attention particulière. Aussi, la valorisation des excédents de céréales pourrait se faire à travers la transformation du maïs et l’amélioration de l’alimentation de la volaille dans un système d’aviculture amélioré
    • L’appui à l’émergence de femmes rurales leaders dans l’agriculture en favorisant leur participation aux instances de décision des coopératives et groupements de producteurs.

    Aussi, la BAD devrait collaborer avec les Etats pour l’application des politiques de facilitation de l’accès des femmes aux ressources productives à travers un système innovant d’accès des femmes au crédit.

    Une des actions pouvant favoriser l’accès des femmes aux ressources productives est le renforcement du leadership féminin à travers les associations et des coopératives de femmes formelles et dynamiques. Les femmes productrices leaders pourraient constituer des groupes de pression à différents niveaux (village, national, régional) pour la levée des contraintes à la productivité agricole.

    Seules des femmes rurales formées, informées, ayant confiance en elles-mêmes et en leurs capacités (self-confiance et self-estime), regroupées au sein d’organisations fortes, pourront relever les défis qui sont des entraves à la productivité agricole. 

    Coordonnatrice BCI
    Association des Producteurs de Coton Africains



    Comment la disparité entre les sexes dans la productivité agricole se produit-elle et pourquoi ?
    Cette disparité se produit le souvent au niveau de toute la chaine de production. En ce sens que l'homme et la femme ne contribuent pas à forces égales à certaines opérations agricoles. Si l’homme abat la forêt, conduit les machines ou les animaux de trait, laboure, la femme s'occupe généralement des pépinières, des semis et plantations, de la protection des cultures, de la récolte et des légumes.

    Il faut le noter, cette disparité repose essentiellement les traditions et coutumes africaines qui relèguent toujours la femme au second rang de la société. De ce point de vue, elles rarement accès aux matériel, moyens et possibilités de production (équipements agricoles, terres cultivables, crédits, et autres intrants).

    Quel est le rôle de la recherche dans le domaine de l’agriculture dans la réduction de cette disparité entre les sexes ?
    Le rôle de la recherche dans le domaine de l’agriculture dans la réduction de cette disparité entre les sexes consiste à valoriser les apports de la femme dans la production et l’économie rurales. Comme l’a si bien noté la Banque africaine de développement, en Afrique subsaharienne, «les femmes contribuent à hauteur de 60 à 80 % au travail de production alimentaire. En outre, l’agriculture continue de se féminiser puisque l’émigration masculine vers les centres urbains ne cesse de s’intensifier. Les femmes constituent désormais la majorité des petits exploitants, elles effectuent l’essentiel du travail et gèrent une grande partie des activités agricoles au quotidien»[1].

    L’autre aspect de la recherche consiste aussi à sensibiliser et encadrer fortement les femmes à la base pour une prise de conscience des contraintes socioéconomiques qui les maintiennent dans l’ombre...

    En résumé, il s’agit de faciliter la visibilité de la contribution des femmes dans la production et leur accès conséquent aux moyens et possibilités de production.

    Quelles sont les implications de cet écart entre les sexes, en particulier pour les femmes dans l'agriculture de subsistance ?
    Parlant des implications de cet écart, même si la femme, en plus de l’agriculture de subsistance, développe aussi une agriculture de rente, ce sont les chefs de ménage qui contrôlent toutes les ressources possibles - terre, matériel et équipements et qui décident par ailleurs de la destination des résultats de récolte.

    Comment ces réalités sont-elles intégrées dans les interventions et les projets visant à réduire l'écart entre les sexes dans la productivité agricole et à relever les défis de l'agriculture de subsistance ?
    Nous pensons que la bonne manière d’intégrer ces réalités dans les interventions et projets consiste à insister sur des appuis à donner, au-delà des ménages, à des organisations communautaires professionnelles. Car certains problèmes d’ordre collectif doivent appeler à une conjugaison d’efforts entre un nombre important d’acteurs en termes de solutions.

    Comment la BAD, à travers les initiatives et programmes phares de la Stratégie pour nourrir l'Afrique ; pourrait-elle réduire l'écart entre les sexes dans la productivité agricole et soutenir une base solide pour la transformation agricole de l'Afrique ?
    La BAD pourra réduire l’écart entre les sexes dans la productivité agricole et soutenir une base solide pour la transformation agricole de l’Afrique en insistant sur la mise en place d’organisations agropastorales intervenant dans des domaines variés... Car il est de constat, contrairement aux exploitations de type familial, que les critères d’accès aux ressources et moyens de travail ainsi que les responsabilités des membres dans ces organisations sont plus ou moins préalablement définis sur une base égalitaire.

    Quelles initiatives réussies sur l’augmentation de la productivité agricole des femmes pourraient être amplifiées par la BAD ?
    Je pense qu’avec la BAD les femmes pourront mieux s’affirmer pour faire bouger les choses en s’appuyant sur des organisations rurales féminines et particulièrement sur le travail de la transformation des produits agropastoraux.

    [1] Mécanisation agricole, document de référence de la Banque Africaine de Développement, 21-23 octobre 2015, P. 16.




    As for Malawi, the problem lies in the education sector. i do not think  gender desparities are as high as they used to be in the past,they  can be closed though at a slow pace. If the girls are given the oppurtunity to education so that they can compete with men. this would make them more competetive and more empowered and provide for a long term solution. As for the current gender status in Agriculture, the main problem is the decision making power at household level. if the man in house has access to loans while the woman does not have, due to cultural reasons or any other reason , But  if the decision around accessing the loan and its us is jointly made then gender gap may have less negative impact.For access to loans in the contex of rural Malawi , i do not think women are denied access but there are factor that limits access bility, which include knowledge (education), extra responsibilities in the household, transport cost,self empowerement and many others. so working around these factors would cetainly reduce the gender gap.