Women Contribution In The Development Of Agricture Sociology Essay

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This study will make an assessment of the contribution agricultural development in rural areas of Uganda with reference to Nakaseke district. Chapter one of this study focuses on the background information, statement of the problem, purpose, research questions, scope and significance. It also provides a basis on which other chapters are built.

1.1 Background to the study

According to a 2000 IFAD study under the Gender Strengthening Programme for Eastern and Southern Africa, agriculture is the main source of income for rural households in Uganda. It is also the main occupation of women. Nationwide, 72% of all employed women and 90% of all rural women work in agriculture. Only 53% of rural men do so. Cash crops include coffee, cotton, sugar cane, sunflower and tobacco. Dual-purpose crops, such as banana, beans, cassava, fruits, maize and vegetables, are also grown and women provide most of the labour.

Women are responsible for 90 percent of the total food production in Uganda and 50 percent of cash crop production (Elson and Evers, 2003), not only playing a central role in food production but also being involved in the post-harvest processing, storage and preservation of crops.

Agriculture continues to play an important role in most non-industrial economies, as a major contributor to the country’s export earnings and as a source of employment and livelihood. Official statistics often underestimate the value of women’s work and their overall contribution to national wealth. Women continue to provide a large proportion of the labour that goes into agriculture (ADB. 2000). FAO’s (2005) estimates show that women represent a substantial share of the total agricultural labour force, as individual food producers or as agricultural workers, and that around two-thirds of the female labour force in developing economies is engaged in agricultural work.

FAO has noted that while the overall proportion of the economically active population (EAP) working in agriculture declined during the 1990s, the percentage of economically active women working in agriculture at the global level remained nearly 50 percent through 2000, with an even higher percentage in developing countries (61 percent) and in LDCs (79 percent). Furthermore, although FAO projections to 2010 indicate a continued reduction in the overall female participation in agriculture globally, the percentage of economically active women working in agriculture in LDCs is projected to remain above 70 percent.

The female contribution to the overall economy is high throughout Asia and the Pacific region, particularly in terms of labour input into agriculture. Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, China, India, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan and Vietnam have particularly high percentages of women employed in the agricultural sector, with estimates ranging between 60 and 98 percent. Indeed, in most Asian countries the number of women employed in agriculture as a percentage of the EAP is higher than that of men. As FAO reports, “this finding is even more significant given that data for the economically active population in agriculture tends to exclude the unpaid work by rural women in farm and family economies. If unpaid work were included, the figures for female employment in agriculture would be even higher (Briones, 2002).

Recent research has also shown a trend towards higher female participation in agriculture in Latin America. A significant increase over the past two decades in the number of rural Latin American households headed by women has been noted; these women are usually the primary source of income for their families, and are typically involved in agriculture (Carswell, 2003). Poverty levels have also increased in Latin America, from 60 to nearly 64 percent between 1980 and 1999, with the absolute number of people living in poverty having increased; while the number of women working in agriculture (both subsistence and commercial farming) increased from 15 to 20 percent between 1990 and 1999 (FAO,2003).

Agriculture is the predominant economic activity in Ghana, employing 55 percent of the workforce and producing 45 percent of the GDP. Approximately 70 percent of the rural population depends on agricultural activities as a source of income. The subsistence agriculture sector accounts for 36 percent of agricultural GDP and employs 60 percent of the total workforce (Durano, 2002). Smallholder farmers – the majority of whom are women – on family operated farms generate 80 percent of total agricultural production in Ghana.

Agriculture in Uganda accounts for more than 40 percent of GDP and is a primary source of income for 80 percent of the population (FAO, 2003). The main cash crops include coffee, cotton, sugar cane, sunflower and tobacco. Dual-purpose crops such as banana, beans, cassava, fruits, maize and vegetables are also grown (IFAD, 2000). The Ugandan government, in its current macroeconomic policy, has fostered higher agricultural productivity as a prerequisite for poverty alleviation.

The 1998 Plan for Modernisation is premised on a holistic strategic framework for increasing agricultural productivity, eradicating poverty and improving the quality of life of poor rural smallholder subsistence farmers. But owing to lack of marketing infrastructure, information asymmetry (especially on input and output prices), high post-harvest losses and financial constraints, smallholder farmers – women in particular – are still confronted with a number of problems constraining productivity.

Uganda has the capacity to produce enough foodstuffs but over half the population does not have access to sufficient food hence the need to find out how women participation affects the development of agriculture in rural areas. The main staples consumed by households are matooke (plantain), sweet potatoes, cassava, maize, millet and sorghum. Own production constitutes a significant proportion of the consumption basket; the remainder is sold at market for income. Stockholding at the household level is very low or non-existent, which makes it difficult for rural households to go through off-season periods and times of poor harvest. Poor or lack of affordable post harvest technology at the household level leads to food losses that have been estimated at about 30 percent (World Bank, 1999).

1.2 Statement of the problem

Production and agricultural incomes decreased in Uganda (UBOS,2005) despite government effort to increase productivity. In some districts such as Nakaseke, despite legislative and tenure changes in favour of smallholders, women continue to be placed in a disadvantaged position in terms of access to land. There has been prolonged poverty prevalence among women despite their involvement in Agriculture. Women are responsible for 90 percent of the total food production in Uganda and 50 percent of cash crop production (Elson and Evers, 2003), but development has remained low. Hence the need to find out how on how women contribute to the development of agriculture in Nakaseke district

1.3 Purpose

The purpose of this study is to make an investigation of the contribution of women on the development of agricture in Nakaseke district

1.4 Objectives

To examine the ways women have contributed in the development of agriculture in rural areas

To establish the factors that have hindered women contribution to development of agriculture in rural areas

To establish the effect of women contribution to the development of agriculture in rural areas

1.5 Research questions

What are the ways women have contributed in the development of agriculture in rural areas?

What are the factors that have hindered women contribution to development of agriculture in rural areas?

What are the effects of women contribution to the development of agriculture in rural areas?

1.6 Scope

The study will be conducted in Nakaseke District because of high level of women involvement in agriculture and low level of production. The study will focus on the contribution of women on the development of agriculture in rural areas.

1.7 Significance of the study

This study maybe significant to the following categories of people;

It may be useful to government in formulating appropriate strategies of enhancing agricultural production in rural areas.

The study may also act as source of literature about the causes women and agricultural development in rural areas.

The study may also help government and other stakeholders involved in women emancipation and development to clearly understand the challenges facing women in agricultural sector.



1.0 Introduction

This chapter focuses on what other people have written about women and their contribution on agricultural development. Specifically, the chapter focuses on the theoretical framework, ways women have contributed in the development of agriculture in rural areas, factors that have hindered women contribution to development of agriculture in rural areas and the effect of women contribution to the development of agriculture in rural areas.

1.1 Theoretical framework

This study will be based on the Liberal feminist theory. Pollock, Griselda (2001) indicates that Feminism is a belief in the right of women to have political, social, and economic equality with men. It is a discourse that involves various movements, theories, and philosophies which are concerned with the issue of gender difference, advocate equality for women, and campaign for women’s rights and interests. Basing on this observation is important to establish how factors such as political, social, and economic rights of women influence their contribution to agricultural development. In this study, it is assumed that many men have under looked the idea of land ownership, modern cultivation and marketing of agricultural products by women because of their assumption that they are superior for such exercises.

In support of Pollock and Griselda (2001), Cornell and Drucilla (1998) assert that Feminist theory aims to understand the nature of inequality and focuses on gender politics, power relations and sexuality. While generally providing a critique of social relations, much of feminist theory also focuses on analyzing gender inequality and the promotion of women’s rights, interests, and issues. This theory contributes to this study because gender policies, power relations and sexuality in addition to women’s rights, interests, and issues will be investigated how they influence development of agriculture in rural areas.

Price, Janet; Shildrick, Margrit (1999), states that Feminist activists have campaigned for women’s legal rights (rights of contract, property rights, voting rights); for women’s right to bodily integrity and autonomy, for abortion rights, and for reproductive rights (including access to contraception and quality prenatal care); for protection from domestic violence, sexual harassment and rape; for workplace rights, including maternity leave and equal pay; and against other forms of discrimination. In this study, one objective focuses on how women’s rights, particularly right to land affects the development of agriculture.

Hooks Bell (1984), notes that Liberal Feminism promotes the equality of men and women through political and legal reform. It is an individualistic form of feminism, which focuses on women’s ability to show and maintain their equality through their own actions and choices. Some of the questions that will be raised in this study will seek to find out if women make choices to develop agriculture and if they are responsible for their actions.

Liberal feminism uses the personal interactions between men and women as the place from which to transform society. According to liberal feminists, all women are capable of asserting their ability to achieve equality; therefore, it is possible for change to happen without altering the structure of society. Issues important to liberal feminists include reproductive and abortion rights, sexual harassment, voting, education, “equal pay for equal work”, affordable health care, and bringing to light the frequency of sexual and domestic violence against women. However, this study will establish whether women have got ability to transform agriculture.

Various ways women have contributed to the development of agriculture in rural areas

According to UPC network’s (1984), the leading person in agricultural sector is the woman. She is the backbone of that economy. Without her labour and numerical strength, the level of our agricultural production would be lower than what has been recorded. Besides providing labour, the woman also plays a supervisory role in cases where the husband can afford to hire extra labour. Thus throughout the year women in Uganda are fully engaged in the various stages of agricultural production; tilling the land, planting, weeding, harvesting, processing, storage. The role of women in marketing it is mainly the women who are to be found retailing maize and cassava flour, beans, groundnuts and other produce. However, the unmistakably significant role that women play in agricultural production, processing and marketing of crops, as well as in the preparation of food, poses a challenge to those who are involved in planning for the development of the agricultural sector of our economy.

Lipson, Elaine (2004) indicates that women in agriculture in the United States are an important, diverse, and often overlooked component of food systems. Recently there has been a growing acknowledgement of the important roles women play on farms. However, the fact remains that the commercial agricultural realm within the US is still hugely dominated by a white male workforce that is traditionally in charge of decision-making and operation. Consequently, both white and non-white women are at a disadvantage, as they lack access to resources and the network required for the capital-intensive work of conventional farming. As of 2002, only about 5% of commercial farms in the US were operated by women, according to the National Agriculture Statistics Service (NASS).

According to Reardon (2003), women play important roles in the production of cash and subsistence crops, and in small livestock rearing. To feed their families, women cultivate kitchen gardens and subsistence crops, mainly root crops. The gender division of labour in the Philippines is clearly marked in farming. Land clearance and preparation is usually carried out by men, except where minimum tillage is required, for example in vegetable gardening. Women engage in planting, weeding and harvesting, while men spray chemicals and fertilizers and carry out more mechanized tasks. Women are heavily engaged in post-harvest tasks, such as threshing and processing. In addition, women bear the responsibility for household tasks.

Due to the difficulty that women have in trying to establish themselves in conventional agriculture, women farmers are increasingly turning to alternative and sustainable agriculture. Women who are Hispanic, Black, and Native American may be especially disadvantaged in commercial agriculture due to the historical and structural racism in farm organizations and federal and state laws in the United States.

Factors that have hindered women contribution to development of agriculture in rural areas

According to World Bank Report (2006), women produce half the world’s food, but own only 1% of its farmland. Two-thirds of illiterate adults are women and in some developing countries, women are more likely to die in childbirth than reach the sixth grade.

The report further states that though more people have been lifted out of poverty in the last 5 years than in the previous 50, 1.2 billion people still subsist on less than $1 per day, majority of whom are women. In addition, seven out of 10 of the world’s hungry are women and girls, according to the UN World Food Programmes. Of the 37 million people living below the poverty line in the US, 21 million are women (US Census Bureau figures from 2006). More than two-thirds of the world’s unpaid work is done by women, the equivalent of $11 trillion or almost 50% of world GDP, according to a global UNDP study from 1995.

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In some regions, especially Sub-Saharan Africa, women provide 70% of agricultural labour, produce over 90% of food, and yet are nowhere represented in budget deliberations, noted the World Economic Forum in 2005. Two-thirds of children denied primary education are girls and 75% of the world’s 876 million illiterate adults are women, reports the Millennium Campaign in 2007. Gender inequality in education and employment in Sub-Saharan African has reduced per capita growth by 0.8% per annum, according to recent Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development estimate (World Bank Report ,2006).

In Uganda, whereas women contribute 70% – 80% of agricultural labour, only 7% own land titles and only 30% can claim secure access to land or control of its produce. Limited ownership and access to land puts women in a less privileged position to determine for instance which crops to grow and how much land to cultivate. Due to the entrenched the gender roles, women in Uganda are responsible for providing food for their families. As such, they are relegated to cultivating food crops which do not fetch any monetary income. Those that have access to cultivate cash crops may not have control when it comes to marketing the proceeds. Women’s ownership of land remains a contentious debate in Uganda since culturally women are not supposed to own or inherit land. The co-ownership clause was, surprisingly, omitted from the land law after being passed by parliament in 1998. Due to cultural norms and beliefs, women are still regarded as a part of property. Therefore, the general belief among most Ugandan cultures that “property cannot own property”, still persists, making women very prone to the danger of poverty.

According to MS Uganda Magazine July 2008, Agricultural extension, which provides access to machinery, fertilizers, higher-yielding seeds, and credit, rarely, reaches women or food-crop producers. Even in cases where extension services exist, farmers are still generally perceived to be ‘male’ and the focus will always be on men and women remain the ‘invisible’ partners in agricultural production. As a result, women farmers still find it difficult to access valuable resources like credit, agricultural inputs, technology and training hence the massive poverty among women.

Most rural women do not even have the male advantage of a bicycle and must walk long distances for health care, water, and firewood. Apart from the eastern and northern parts of Uganda, it is common for women to ride bicycles. Therefore while men take produce to mills for grinding, women grind grains by hand. As a result the hand grinded flour does not yield substantial profits due to its low quality.

In the Philippine, of the 11.2 million people in the agricultural labour force, 8.5 million are landless and the impact of international trade practices on rural agrarian structures in the Philippines appears to have intensified the exploitation of peasant women and their families (Oliveros, 1997). This is a manifestation that limited access to land by women has a direct impact on their livelihood and the general development of agriculture. Forexample, the current tenancy system in the Philippines is based on a 70/30 or 60/40 product-sharing scheme, in favour of the landlord. Millions of tenants work under extreme and exploitative conditions whereby, although the landlord pays only the male labourer, the entire family, especially the unpaid labour of women and children, are mobilized to complete the work (Oliveros, 1997). This is favouring further concentration of land, exacerbating economic disempowerment, migration and social disruption in rural areas.

The FAO (2003) estimates that in sub-Saharan Africa as a whole, 31 per cent of rural households are headed by women, mainly because of the tendency of men to migrate to cities in search of wage labour; in Latin America and the Caribbean only 17 per cent of rural households are headed by women, and in Asia, 14 per cent. Despite this substantial role, observes the FAO, “women have less access to land than men; when women do own land; the land holding tends to be smaller and located in more marginal areas. However, while the views of FAO (2003) are seemingly correct, there is need to establish how land ownership by women affects development of agriculture in Uganda.

Effect of women contribution to the development of agriculture in rural areas

Women participation in cultivation has a positive impact on the development of agriculture, for example, women’s unpaid labour has been essential to the operation of sugar-cane smallholdings, and therefore to the production of sugar cane, in Fiji. Female family members contribute to the cultivation process and perform low-profile work that allows male members of the family to participate in sugar-cane production. The work women do tends to be masked by the set-up of the nuclear family, with the tendency for work that is unpaid to remain unnoticed, but they engage in subsistence agriculture, animal husbandry, domestic work and small goods and handicrafts production (Carswell, 2003).

In addition, most women on the farm have harvested cane during labour shortages, especially when there has been pressure to complete harvesting. They have also participated in planting, weeding and fertilizing when labour was short. But it is women’s indirect support, in carrying out sustenance activities and working in post-harvesting, that is integral to the functioning of these smallholdings. However, while this study was conducted in Fiji, a similar study needs to be conducted in Uganda in order to have a comparative analysis.

Further more, in china, although agriculture as a share of China’s GDP has declined from 33.3 percent in 1982 to 14.5 percent in 2002, over 50 percent of the labour force in China’s agriculture, forestry, animal husbandry and fisheries is female (UNDP, 2003), the feminization of these sectors being accentuated as male agricultural labourers migrate to urban areas. Yet the wages of those migrants still support rural households because women’s incomes derive primarily from sectors of agriculture with low productivity.

The majority of workers in cultivation and stockbreeding are women, 51.6 and 75.2 percent respectively, and their percentage continues to grow (UNDP, 2003). In agricultural production, women have replaced men as the dominant force, while its management and decision-making processes remain male-dominated. One illustration of how this situation is perpetuated is that women are not allowed to apply for loans without their husband’s authorization under existing agricultural loan policy.

Rice production in the Philippines – from selecting the seeds, to uprooting and transplanting the seedlings, and storing the grains – has long been the domain of women, many of whom have been unable to compete with the massive imports of rice. This has led to the abandonment of rice fields, reduced production of rice and out migration (Kohr, 2001: Chapter 9). It also means the loss of practices that, for generations, ensured that indigenous peoples remained self-reliant and self-sustaining in meeting their basic food needs.

In the Caribbean, data for the involvement of women and men in agriculture are generally confined to transactions in the formal market sector. Statistics relating to the production and marketing of the principal export crops, such as banana and sugar, indicate that men are predominant in the control and marketing of export or cash crops. For instance, a social audit completed in 2002 of the sugar industry in St. Kitts (Budu, 2001), indicated that men, by a three to- one ratio, were its primary source of labour. A similar ratio prevailed in the marketing of banana. Women, however, are highly visible in the production and marketing of food for domestic, household consumption and tend to participate in regional export trade of food, buying directly at farm gate and exporting to neighbouring islands, for example from Grenada and St. Vincent to Trinidad/Tobago and Barbados.

Malapit (2001) indicates that women in agriculture in the Caribbean, as in most developing countries, play important roles in household food security as income earners, nurturers, and managers of natural resources and biodiversity, although the success with which they are able to execute these roles is often mitigated by restricted access to land, labour, capital and technology. In Jamaica, for example, the majority of women farmers – principally engaged in food production for domestic consumption – are smallholders, with the average farm size being significantly smaller in area than that held by men. In that country, then, production constraints related to land tenure and access clearly tend to impact more heavily on women than on men. And research indicates that, while women are predominant in domestic and/or regional sphere of agricultural marketing, men typically are more actively engaged in the marketing of traditional and nontraditional agricultural commodities to extra-regional and international markets.

Mbiliny (2003) has a different view and states that in most regions of the world, women tend to be ultimately responsible for children and other dependants, and are often responsible for household food security. Female-headed households are on the increase globally because of internal and external migration, civil conflict, disease, and disruptions to traditional family structures. But whether or not a male spouse is present in the household, in most societies women are responsible for food processing and preparation, providing and obtaining health care, and clothing their children.

As pointed out by OXFAM (2002), as trade liberalization strategies are geared towards increasing export production, women farmers in the subsistence sector are often neglected. Women’s unpaid work on family farms is not reflected in national accounts. As a consequence, this non-economic or unpaid work goes unnoticed and is not reflected in the design of agricultural policies. This neglect of women’s invisible labour contributes to the marginalization of women in the economy. However, women’s work is often integral to the functioning of smallholder farms, by carrying out sustenance activities and participating in post-harvesting. Furthermore, in many countries women are also the main providers of food for their household.



3.0 Introduction

This chapter describes the procedures that will be followed in conducting the study. It gives details regarding research design, population of the study area, sample and sampling techniques, a description of data collection instruments to be used, as well as the techniques that will be used to analyze data. It also indicates the problems anticipated in the study.

3.1 Research design

The research design to be adopted in this study will be a case study research design. Case studies emphasize detailed contextual analysis of a limited number of events or conditions and their relationships. The researcher will employ both quantitative and qualitative research methods.

3.2 Sampling procedure

The following sampling procedures will be used by the researcher to select the sample while in the field:

Purposive sampling

In this method, the researcher will target specific group of employees in the planning office. These will act as key informants since they are believed to be reliable and knowledgeable about the topic under study, so they will be in position to give dependable and detailed information about participatory planning.

Simple random sampling

The researcher will apply this method to community members because of their large population. Sample size will be determined using Morgan and Krejcie (1970) sample estimation table (appendix: 2). According to Amin (2005) a good sample for academic research is between 60 to 120 respondents.

Research Instruments

The research instruments that will be used during the process of data collection will include; questionnaires and interview guides.


The questionnaires are popular because the respondents will fill them at their own convenience and are appropriate for large samples. Some questions will be open ended while others close ended. According to Amin (2005), questionnaires are popular with researchers because information can be obtained fairly, easily and the questionnaire responses are easily coded. However, the major weaknesses of questionnaires are that they do not provide detailed information to the problem and this is why they will be substantiated by interviews.

Interview guide

The researcher will carry out personal interviews to collect data from the respondents. The questions will be planned in advance and the researcher will use an interview guide to guide the interview. Interviews will be used because it is easy to fully understand someone’s impressions or experiences, or learn more about their answers to questionnaires. In-depth interviews will be used because it is easy to fully understand someone’s impressions or experiences, or learn more about their answers to questionnaires. According to Mugenda (1999), interviews are advantageous in that they provide in-depth data which is not possible to get using questionnaires.

1.10.7 Validity and Reliability of Instrument

Validity is the accuracy and meaningfulness of inferences, which are which are based on the research results (Mugenda 1999). Validity of instruments will be ascertained by first of all discussing the questionnaire and interview schedule drafts with the supervisor. The content validity of the instrument will be found worthy executing for the pilot run and thus the study.

According to Mugenda, (1999), reliability is a measure of the degree to which a research instrument yields consistent results or data after repeated trials. The reliability of instruments will be established basing on the preliminary results derived from the pilot study. The study instruments will be set for the pilot run. Results realized will be discussed with the supervisor and the content reliability of the instrument will be accepted.

1.10.8 Data analysis

Data will be analyzed using Statistical package for social scientists (SPSS). Data from questionnaires will be presented in form of frequency tables, pie charts and bar graphs.

3.5 Procedure

The researcher shall write research proposal which will be presented to the supervisor for approval and there after will be given and introductory letter and permission to conduct research. This is expected to be completed by the end of December 2009. This will be followed by the preparation of the instruments and introducing himself to the relevant respondents (members of the community and officials from the district planning unit).

The researcher will carry out data collection from Nakaseke. This will be done through the use of instruments like questionnaires and interview guides. The respondents will be expected to provide the relevant information that will help the researcher to achieve his objectives of the study. This will be followed by data analysis where by there will be sorting out of the required information and analyzing it. The researcher will there after go ahead after being allowed by the supervisor


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