IFPRI Policy Seminar "Beyond Gender Myths: Closing the Knowledge Gap in Agriculture and Food Security" by Terri Raney
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IFPRI Policy Seminar "Beyond Gender Myths: Closing the Knowledge Gap in Agriculture and Food Security" by Terri Raney

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IFPRI Policy Seminar ""Beyond Gender Myths: Closing the Knowledge Gap in Agriculture and Food Security" Presentation by Terri Raney, Senior Economist, Food & Agriculture Organization of the United ...

IFPRI Policy Seminar ""Beyond Gender Myths: Closing the Knowledge Gap in Agriculture and Food Security" Presentation by Terri Raney, Senior Economist, Food & Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) at IFPRI on 22 November 2013.

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  • Delighted to be here. Thanks to Ruth and Agnes for organizing, and thanks even more for being such great collaborators. The present volume is the outgrowth of our collaboration on The State of Food and Agriculture 2010-11. One of our goals with that report was to debunk some of the gender myths and feminist fables that surround the subject of women in agriculture. We set about trying to answer some basic questions: how much food do women produce, how much land do they control, are women more malnourished than men … and we found that much of what everybody knows about women in agriculture just ain’t so. Because the data are so bad. But even more important than bad data (because all socio-economic data are bad), we finally understood that these are really not the right questions. As bad as the data are, they point to one universal fact – women farmers everywhere have less than men of what they need to be good farmers. And these gaps harm not just women, but their families and communities as well. The present volume is an effort to document what can be known about women in agriculture, to heighten awareness of the need to know more, and to focus on how closing this knowledge gap can help close the gender gap in agriculture and rural development.
  • The SOFA report argued that agricultural sector in developing countries is underperforming, in part because women are denied the resources and opportunities they need to be more productive. The research and analysis presented in this report clearly shows that the gender gap in agriculture is not just a women’s problem. It hurts agriculture and society at large, by constraining production and growth in the agricultural and rural sector and the broader economy.
  • Women typically operate smaller farms than men. They have smaller plots of land, often of inferior quality, and typically with less-secure tenure. This means that women cannot achieve the same scale of production as men and have less incentive to invest in soil fertility, so efficiency suffers.Note: This figure shows data from the Rural Income Generating Activities (RIGA) project of FAO. The RIGA project has created an internationally comparable database of rural household income sources from existing household living standard surveys for many countries in all regions. The RIGA evidence that women operate smaller plots, of lower quality and less secure tenure is also confirmed by findings from many other studies in Africa, Asia, and Latin America as documented in SOFA.
  • The economic evidence underpinning this analysis is very robust. Many studies conducted around the world in recent decades confirm that women farmers typically achieve lower yields than men. Perhaps the most widely cited study is Udryet al. (1994) which found that women achieved 59% of men’s yields for sorghum, 79% for vegetables and 82% for all crops. We identified 27 studies that compare the productivity of male and female farmers. These studies covered a wide range of countries (primarily, but not only, in Africa), crops, years and farming systems and used various measures of productivity and efficiency. Despite this variety, most found that male farmers achieved higher yields than female farmers.The estimated yield gaps range widely but many cluster between about 20 and 30 percent, with an average of 25%. But why do women achieve lower yields? The overwhelming conclusion of this literature is that women are just as skilled as men in farming, but they do not have the same access to resources.
  • In addition, women are much less likely than men to use improved technologies and purchased inputs such as fertilizers and seeds. This figure shows the RIGA data for fertilizer use. Every country in the database shows that women are less likely than men to use fertilizers, and the gap is sometimes very wide. Similar patterns exist for other inputs. The use of purchased inputs depends on the availability of complementary assets such as land, credit, education and labour, all of which tend to be more constrained for female-headed than for male-headed households.In Ghana, for example, only 39% of female farmers adopted improved crop varieties, compared with 59% of male farmers because they had less access to land (wealth), family labour and extension.
  • The State of Food and Agriculture 2010–11 shows that closing the gender gap in agriculture could generate significant gains for the sector and society.Just giving women the same access as men to agricultural inputs such as fertilizers and improved seeds could increase production on women’s farms by 20–30 percent.At the national level, agricultural production could be 2.5 to 4 percent higher.This production increase alone could translate into a reduction in the number of undernourished people in the world of 12–17 percent, or 100 –150 million people.These findings have been very widely cited, and in the process of debunking other gender myths, we have been accused of creating a new myth. In fact, I’ve been surprised that no one has taken our very rough estimate and tried to generate a better one. Even within FAO, the numbers have been controversial … some say they are too high because “women are not really farmers” (shocking isn’t it?) … but others say our estimates are far too low because we are looking only at gaps between male and female-headed household and gains that could be achieved by closing the gap on land controlled by women. We know that this excludes women who work in agriculture within male-headed households and on land controlled by men. So we are capturing only a small minority of the women in agriculture. Some bright spark of a researcher ought to take our estimates and “debunk” them. I think they would find even bigger numbers. More important … Beyond the numbers themselves, we know the yield gains would just be the first-round of benefits. Closing the gender gap in agriculture would put more income in the hands of women. This is a proven strategy for improving health, nutrition and education outcomes for children. These social benefits also build human capital, which contributes directly to economic growth. *Methodological note: a literature review of all published studies directly comparing productivity on male- and female-plots, over the past three decades, from different regions and production systems, found that women achieve on average 25 percent lower yields than men (most estimates range between 20 and 30 percent) BUT the difference is entirely due to the fact that women use fewer inputs. In other words, if women used the same inputs as men, they would produce 20–30 percent more. This range of production increase was applied to the land controlled by women (in the FAO land and gender data base – Figure 25, Annex table A5). For the countries for which data are available, this yields a 2.5–4 percent increase in agricultural output. Inserting this range of production increases into the FAO formula for calculating the number of undernourished people in the world gives a 12–17 percent reduction or 100–150 million fewer people undernourished.
  • Policies and programmes can make a difference.Governments, donors and development practitioners must be aware that policies and institutions often have different impacts on men and women – even when no explicit discrimination is intended. This happens because men and women have different roles in society and face different opportunities and constraints. We cannot make good agricultural policy decisions unless we consider gender differences. Eliminate discrimination under the law – in many countries women do not have the same rights as men -- to buy, sell or inherit land, to open a savings account or borrow money, to sign a contract or sell their produce. Where legal rights exist on paper, they often are not honored in practice. Government officials at all levels must be held accountable for the realization of legal rights for women.One of the best investments we can make is in building the human capital of women and girls – education, information and extension services are essential building blocks for agricultural productivity and economic growth.Women face multiple constraints in agriculture arising from the complex nature of agricultural production and from competing demands on their time. To be effective, interventions must be “bundled” so they treat these constraints together.Women and girls, spend far too much time in drudgery – carrying water because their village does not have a water pump, carrying firewood because more convenient fuels are not available, walking because roads are impassable for a cart or bicycle, pounding grain or cassava by hand because no mill exists. Essential public services and improved technologies can free-up women’s time for more productive and rewarding activities.

IFPRI Policy Seminar "Beyond Gender Myths: Closing the Knowledge Gap in Agriculture and Food Security" by Terri Raney IFPRI Policy Seminar "Beyond Gender Myths: Closing the Knowledge Gap in Agriculture and Food Security" by Terri Raney Presentation Transcript

  • Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations Economic and Social Development Department Gender in Agriculture: Closing the Knowledge Gap Quisumbing, Meinzen-Dick, Raney and others, eds. The State of Food and Agriculture FAO, IFPRI and Springer forthcoming 2010-11
  • Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations Economic and Social Development Department The State of Food and Agriculture 2010-11: Women in agriculture: Closing the gender gap for development The State of Food and Agriculture 2010-11
  • Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations Economic and Social Development Department Women farmers operate smaller farms… The State of Food and Agriculture 2010-11
  • Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations Economic and Social Development Department And achieve lower yields ... The State of Food and Agriculture 2010-11
  • Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations Economic and Social Development Department … because they use fewer inputs Fertilizer … also mechanical equipment, credit, education, livestock The State of Food and Agriculture 2010-11
  • Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations Economic and Social Development Department Gains from closing the gender gap  Productivity gains • 20 to 30 percent on women’s farms • 2.5 to 4 percent at national level  Food security gains • 12 to 17 percent reduction in the number of hungry • 100 to 150 million people lifted out of hunger  Broader economic and social gains • Better health, nutrition and education outcomes for children • Higher human capital, which promotes economic growth The State of Food and Agriculture 2010-11
  • Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations Economic and Social Development Department Mainstreaming gender for agriculture  Good agricultural policy must consider gender differences  Ensure equality for women under the law  Invest in the human capital of women and girls The State of  Address the multiple constraints of women in agriculture Food and Agriculture  Provide public services and technologies to free up women’s time 2010-11
  • Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations Economic and Social Development Department Gender in Agriculture: Closing the Knowledge Gap  SOFA generated more material than could be published in a short report  Showed the need for a comprehensive handbook on the “state of knowledge”  Forthcoming, spring 2014 The State of Food and Agriculture 2010-11
  • Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations Economic and Social Development Department The State of Food and Agriculture 2010-11