Female access to fertile land and other inputs in Zambia: why women get lower yields
- 172 Downloads
Throughout the developing world, it is a well-documented fact that women farmers tend to get lower yields than their male counterparts. Typically this is attributed to disproportionate access to high-quality inputs and labor, with some even arguing there could be a skills-gap stemming from unbalanced access to training and education. This article examines the gender-based yield gap in the context of Zambian maize producers. In addition to the usual drivers, we argue that Zambia’s patriarchal and multi-tiered land distribution system could disfavor women with respect to accessing quality soils. We are uniquely able to control for soil characteristics using farm data from a sample of 1573 fields with accompanying soil analysis. We find an expected difference in yields, but no evidence of a gap in unobserved characteristics, like skill, after controlling for access to inputs, especially quality soil, suggesting women are indeed disproportionately disadvantaged. We discuss how our findings could be used to develop self-targeting policy interventions that could empower women and would be consistent with the government’s stated equity goals.
KeywordsGender yield gap Productivity Soil quality Sub-Saharan Africa Zambia
Central Statistical Office (Zambia)
Indaba Agricultural Policy Research Institute
Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock
Ordinary least squares
Rural Agricultural Livelihood Survey
Soil organic matter
United States Department of Agriculture
Zambia National Farmers Union
Our foremost gratitude is to the participants in the 2012 Rural Agricultural Livelihoods Survey and the key informants at the Zambia Agricultural Research Institute, the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock, the Ministry of Gender and Child Development, and focus group participants during the spring of 2015. We thank IAPRI for collecting and sharing the data used for this study. We thank Roz Naylor, Danielle Nierenberg, Wally Falcon, Agnes Quisumbing, two anonymous reviewers, the editor and participants of a special session of the 2016 Agricultural and Applied Economics Association annual meeting for useful comments.
Compliance with ethical standards
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.
Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.
- Burke, W. J., E. Frossard, S. Kabwe, and T. S. Jayne. 2016. Understanding fertilizer effectiveness and adoption on maize in Zambia. International Development Working Paper 147, Michigan State University Department of Agricultural, Food and Resource Economics, East Lansing.Google Scholar
- Falola, T., and N. A. Amponsah. 2012. Women’s roles in sub-Saharan Africa. Santa Barbara, CA: Greenwood Publishing.Google Scholar
- Fuentes, D. O., and H. Wiig. 2009. Closing the gender land gap: the effects of land-titling for women in Peru. Norwegian Institute for Urban and Regional Research Working Paper No. 2009:120. Oslo.Google Scholar
- Gilbert, R. A., W. D. Sakala, and T. D. Benson. 2002. Gender analysis of a nationwide cropping system trial survey in Malawi. African Studies Quarterly 6: 223–243.Google Scholar
- Goldstein, M., and C. Udry. 1999. Agricultural innovation and resource management in Ghana. Final report to IFPRI under MP17. Washington, DC: International Food Policy Research Institute.Google Scholar
- Honig, L., and B. P. Mulenga. 2015. The status of customary land and the future of smallholder farmers under the current land administration system in Zambia. Indaba Agricultural Policy Research Institute Working Paper no. 101. Lusaka, Zambia.Google Scholar
- Jones, A., H. Breuning-Madsen, and M. Brossard, et al. 2013. Soil atlas of Africa. European Commission, Publications Office of the European Union. Luxembourg.Google Scholar
- Larson, D. F., S. Savastano, S. Murray, and A. Palacios-Lopez. 2015. Are women less productive farmers? How markets and risk affect fertilizer use, productivity, and measured gender effects in Uganda. Policy Research Working Paper 7241, Development Research Group. The World Bank, Washington D.C.Google Scholar
- Matsumoto, T., and T. Yamano. 2013. Optimal fertilizer use on maize production in East Africa”. In Emerging development of agriculture in East Africa: Markets, soil, and innovations, eds. T. Yamano, K. Otsuka and F. Place, New York, NY: Springer.Google Scholar
- Smith, W. L., and R. Naylor. 2014. Land institutions and food security in sub-Saharan Africa. In The evolving sphere of food security, ed. R. L. Naylor, 202–235. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
- Tiruneh, A., T. Tesfaye, W. Mwangi, and H. Verkuijl. 2001. Gender differentials in agricultural production and decision-making among smallholders in Ada, Lume and Gimbichu Woredas of the Central Highlands of Ethiopia. CIMMYT and the Ethiopian Research Organization. El Baton, Mexico.Google Scholar
- Wooldridge, J. 2002. Econometric analysis of cross section and panel data. Cambridge: MIT Press.Google Scholar
- Zambia Agriculutral Research Institute (ZARI). 2002. Maize production guide. In Permian exploration, boundaries, and stratigraphy, eds. G. C. Kaitisha, P. Gondwe, M. V. Mukwavi, and G.M. Kaula. Mt. Makulu, Zambia: Soils and Crops Research, Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives.Google Scholar
- Zambia National Farmers’ Union (ZNFU). 2013. Time to give women farmers prominence is now. http://www.znfu.org.zm/article/time-give-women-farmers-prominence-now. Accessed 7 June 2018.