Educating Women Key to Sustainable Farming in Africa, Says Study

African Update – 10/02/13

The successful implementation of sustainable agricultural practices (SAPs) in Sub-Saharan Africa is linked to improvements in women's education, according to a study.

SAPs are often touted as a solution to land degradation, low agricultural productivity and widespread poverty in the region.

The new study is the result of research conducted in rural Ethiopia that aimed to identify interdependent factors affecting the adoption of SAPs in Sub-Saharan Africa and their impact on incomes and livelihoods.

It was carried out by a team from the School of Business, Economics and Law at the University of Gothenburg, Sweden.

The researchers analysed a household survey - conducted between October and December 2010 - of 900 farm households working on 4,050 farming plots in three maize-growing regions of Ethiopia.

They identified the factors that influence the adoption of three key SAPs: using improved seeds; conservation tillage; and maize-legume crop rotation systems. They also compared how incomes were affected by the three different practices.

"We found that each year of education for women increases the probability of adopting more than two of the SAPs by 12 per cent," says Hailemariam Teklewold, the lead author and a research fellow at the University of Gothenburg.

"The impact of women's education was relevant in both male-headed and female-headed households," Teklewold adds.

The study says that, "in almost all cases, the adoption of a combination of SAPs provides more maize income compared to adopting them in isolation".

Farmers who adopted all three practices earned the largest net income of 5,580 birr (around US$300) per hectare per year, but those who adopted only one of the practices - intercropping, conservation tillage, or improved seeds - earned about US$100, US$128 and US$154 per hectare per year, respectively.

Solomon Jemal, an agronomist at the Ethiopian Institute of Agricultural Research, says the study provides concrete evidence of the importance of mainstreaming gender issues in SAP efforts in Africa.

He tells SciDev.Net: "The study's findings should make stakeholders consider the important role of women in adopting SAPs, and of designing interventions that will be favourable to women smallholder farmers."

John Achieng', an agronomist at the Kenya Agricultural Research Institute, says the findings relating to women's education are highly relevant to Sub-Saharan Africa.

"About 70 to 80 per cent of farming activities in Sub-Saharan Africa are done by women, and, because girls drop out of school faster than boys, governments should ensure more women are given an education," says Achieng'. The higher one's level of education, the higher the rate of adoption of a technology, he says.

But Achieng' warns that implementing conservation agriculture also poses some challenges that are unfavourable to poorer farmers. For example, yields are usually lower for the first two years after implementation, although they pick up considerably in subsequent years.

Also, "many smallholder farmers grow crops and keep livestock, and will prefer to give crop residues to their livestock rather than keep them in the soil as SAPs require," Achieng' says.

Link to full study

This article has been produced by SciDev.Net's Sub-Saharan Africa desk.

Original article available at allAfrica website Educating Women Key to Sustainable Farming in Africa, Says Study

Upcoming AIC events
There are no upcoming events at the moment.
Book of the month

Xoliswa Ndoyiya: Ukutya Kwasekhaya

Xoliswa Ndoyiya: Ukutya KwasekhayaTastes from Nelson Mandela’s kitchen

A collection of recipes by Nelson Mandela's personal chef, this book contains the food served to visiting heads of state, celebrities, politicians for more than 20 years. Featuring some of the favourite former South African president's favourite meals including samp and beans, farm chicken, tripe, this book also features paella, peri-peri chicken, prawn curry, and myriad of other delights. With simple, delicious and nourishing recipes, it will interest those who wish to prepare meals that are both elegant and healthy.More

New arrivals

New titles in our library 12/2016

Our library has aquired a number of new and interesting books. Here is the list of the latest titles.

  • Blood Brothers: The Fatal Friendship Between Muhammad Ali and Malcolm X by Randy Roberts and Johnny Smith
  • Fashion Cities Africa by Hannah Azieb Pool
  • Frantz Fanon: Toward a Revolutionary Humanismby Christopher Lee
  • Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
  • Why Nations Fail: The Origins of Power, Prosperity and Poverty by Robinson, James A., Acemoglu, Daron
  • Shakespeare in Swahililand: Adventures With the Ever-Living Poet by Edward Wilson-Lee
  • A History of Modern Africa: 1800 to the Present by Richard J. Reid
  • Authentically African: Arts and the Transnational Politics of Congolese Culture by Sarah Van Beurden
  • Children in Slavery through the Ages by by Gwyn CampbellSuzanne MiersJoseph C. Miller
  • Global Health in Africa: Historical Perspectives on Disease Control by Tamara Giles-Vernick
  • Rumba on the River: A History of the Popular Music of the Two Congos by Gary  Stewart
  • Women and Slavery, Vol. 1: Africa, the Indian Ocean World, and the Medieval North Atlantic by Gwyn Campbell
  • Women and Slavery, Vol. 2: The Modern Atlantic by Gwyn Campbell
  • Cahier d'un Retour Au Pays Natal by Aimé Cesaire
  • Healing Traditions: African Medicine, Cultural Exchange and Competition in South Africa, 1820-1948 by Karen Elizabeth  Flint
  • Global Education Policy and International Development: New Agendas, Issues and Policies by Antoni Verger
  • Black Skin, White Coats: Nigerian Psychiatrists, Decolonization, and the Globalization of Psychiatry by Matthew M. Heaton

African information centre

Ječná 2, 120 00 Prague 2

Opening hours

Tuesday, Thursday: 2 – 6 pm

Humanitas Afrika, občanské sdružení

We're supported by:

Pokladní systémy

Hl. m. Praha Česká rozvojová agentura

Fair Trade Logo

AIC je prodejním místem
produktů fairtrade

Our partners: