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

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Vol. 1, Issue 2, pp 110-128, 2016

A crop of one's own? Women’s experiences of cassava commercialization in Nigeria and Malawi

Author: Lora Forsythe1, Helena Posthumus2 and Adrienne Martin1
1Natural Resources Institute (NRI), Chatham Maritime, United Kingdom
2The Royal Tropical Institute (KIT), Amsterdam.


Improving the effectiveness of agricultural markets for economic growth and poverty reduction has been a central focus for development initiatives, particularly in Sub-Saharan Africa. Staple crops with low input requirements and drought tolerance, such as cassava, are being promoted for market development due to their accessibility for poor smallholder farmers. Narratives often equate commercialization of cassava to benefits for women, as cassava is commonly labelled a ‘women’s crop’. However, little is known about whether or how women can engage with new cassava commercial opportunities and the livelihood outcomes from this, particularly given the importance of cassava for food security. Findings from fieldwork in Nigeria and Malawi identify cassava value chains that offer different opportunities and challenges for women, which are often overlooked in agricultural development narratives. Women can gainfully participate in new commercial cassava opportunities while maintaining, if not increasing, food security. However, this is highly dependent on gender norms and household relations. Greater attention is required to these more difficult aspects of gender analysis in development projects to ensure women’s integration and benefit from agricultural markets.

Keywords: Cassava, women, gender, markets, food security, norms

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DOI : 10.19268/JGAFS.122016.6
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