Power of partnership conference: Poster: CONGENIAL
Development Frontiers Research Fund - ES/K011693/1
Contract farming is expanding rapidly in Africa but suffers from
high rates of default and claims of exploitation by smallholders.
Between 2013 and 2015 CONGENIAL evaluated whether farms,
firms and families benefited from including wives in contract
farming schemes in Malawi and Tanzania.
We combined a pilot clustered randomised design with an
interview schedule including open, closed and biographical
questions. Husbands and wives were interviewed separately.
Our findings were mixed. In Malawi, we worked with 416
households, half of whom received soya seed alongside a
tobacco contract. Wives withdrew labour from soya as they no
longer controlled this crop, contributing to lower yields and
production. Husbands stated wives were neglecting the staple
food crop, maize, not soya, revealing their own concerns about
including wives in the contract. Overall, spousal non-
cooperation led to sub-optimal results. Nevertheless, 70% of
participants welcomed the provision of soya seed to wives. They
wanted this to continue but as a separate contract, not tied to
tobacco, and paid directly to wives.
In Tanzania, we worked with 706 households, half of whom
received hybrid maize seeds alongside cotton inputs. Over
90% of participants supported this. Wives applied more
labour to cotton and, surprisingly, there was less child
labour on all crops. Importantly, cotton production
increased by 59-136kgs, increasing incomes by US$26-60.
Husbands also felt household well-being improved
Our impact journey was unpredictable. Formal engagement
events were superseded by ad hoc requests. There was a
delicate trade-off here between fidelity to the data and
One direct impact is that AOI Malawi now includes extra
food crop seeds to 7,000 contracted households. Our main
challenge was the size of the pilot designs: they were just
too small to make strong claims. Similar evaluations need to
be conducted at scale with sufficient funding.
CONGENIAL – Contract Farming and Gender Equity In African Landscapes