The gender gap in agricultural productivity- A case study of rice farming in the River Delta Valley in Senegal
Abstract: In Senegal, rice plays a crucial role in combating food insecurity since it is one of the most consumed staple crops. Despite this, national rice-production is insufficient in relation to the domestic demand, making Senegal one of West Africa’s most import-dependent countries in rice. To combat this issue, the Senegalese government aim to reach national self-sufficiency in rice production, primarily focused on the irrigated agricultural sector called the River Delta Valley. Previous research has highlighted that to increase agricultural productivity; it is essential to close the gender gap and to empower female farmers. This thesis has investigated how gendered differences in smallholder rice production in the River Delta Valley impacts agricultural productivity levels, agricultural management, and female farmers socio-economic situation. The study applied a mixed-methods data collection, involving a micro-survey, individual and group interviews and participating observations with both male and female farmers, guided by the methodology and analytical framework called Women’s Empowerment in Agriculture Index (A-WEAI). It was found that while both male and female farmers have increased their rice production in comparison to the last ten years and the preceding generation, gendered differences which limit females’ potential in agricultural productivity remains. Some of these are inheritance and ownership of land, constraints in time and workload, and limited financial resources. Finally, it was observed that while female farmers had enjoyed increased economic opportunities in comparison to the preceding generation, this had resulted in the transfer of economic responsibilities from males to females. Ultimately, females were left with a heavier financial burden than before managing their individual economy. It was concluded that female empowerment is not a linear process since the improvement in one dimension of the concept might result in negative consequences in another dimension.
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