Editorial Chief: Jemimah M. Njuki, Africa Centre for Gender, Social Research and Impact Assessment

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Vol 1, Issue 3, pp 1-22, 2016

Beyond crop production: Gender relations along the pigeon pea value chain and implications for income and food security in Malawi

Author: Nathalie Me-Nsope1* and Michelle Larkins2
11Department of Agricultural, Food and Resource Economics, Global Center for Food Systems Innovation, Michigan State University. mensopen@msu.edu
2Global Center for Food Systems Innovation, Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan


Legume-intensified maize systems have been identified as a potential “one stop” solution to the problems of food insecurity and declining soil fertility in Malawi. Previous research to understand legume adoption/cultivation in Malawi has failed to examine how gender relations may influence incentives to adopt and potential food security gains at the farm level, or how gender may impact participation, performance, and benefits at later value chain stages. Using a combination of key informant interviews, focus groups, and a value chain approach, we identify gender based constraints and opportunities along the pigeon pea value chain, their implications for legume adoption/expansion, for income gains, and for the food security status of legume producing/selling households. We find that due to their culturally prescribed role as heads of households, men are mostly responsible for legume cultivation decisions at the farm level and across all regions. Cultural restrictions on women’s mobility and gender disparities in transportation assets exclude women from participating in markets, thereby giving men more access to pigeon pea sales revenue. Men’s predominant role in pigeon pea marketing and their power to make major decisions on the allocation of crop revenue creates a disincentive among women to expand the legume at the farm level, especially since women make major labor contributions towards the cultivation and post-harvest handling of the legume. Our results indicate that income from pigeon pea sales may not always translate to improvements in household food security, especially when intra-household gender differences in market participation, consumption needs and preferences are considered. We find that post-farm level, women on the pigeon pea value chain still face mobility restrictions, unequal gender division of labor in reproductive and household chores, limited access to transportation assets, limited credit and non-farm employment opportunities which hinder the performance and benefits from participation at higher nodes of the pigeon pea value chain. Development efforts targeting increases in household food security through the promotion of pigeon pea must take our findings into consideration to improve intervention outcomes.

Keywords: Africa; Malawi; pigeon peas, gender relations; value chain analysis; poverty; food security

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DOI : 10.19268/JGAFS.132016.1
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