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Title: Women in food production and food security
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Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00089874/00001
 Material Information
Title: Women in food production and food security Government Consultation on Role of Women in Food Production and Food Security, 10-13 July, Harare, Zimbabwe
Physical Description: 52 p. : ; 30 cm.
Language: English
Creator: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations
Donor: Marianne Schmink ( endowment )
Publisher: Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations,
Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations
Place of Publication: Rome
Publication Date: 1984
Copyright Date: 1984
 Subjects
Subject: Women agricultural laborers   ( lcsh )
Food supply   ( lcsh )
Food -- Storage   ( lcsh )
Genre: bibliography   ( marcgt )
non-fiction   ( marcgt )
Spatial Coverage: Zimbabwe
 Notes
Bibliography: Includes bibliographical references (p. 49-52).
General Note: Cover title.
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00089874
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: oclc - 24706575

Table of Contents
    Front Cover
        Front Cover
    Table of Contents
        Page i
        Page ii
    Introduction
        Page 1
        Page 2
        Page 3
        Page 4
        Page 5
        Page 6
        Page 7
        Page 8
        Page 9
        Page 10
    Women's contribution to food production
        Page 11
        Page 12
        Page 13
    Constraints to increasing women's role in food security
        Page 14
        Page 15
        Page 16
        Page 17
        Page 18
        Page 19
        Page 20
        Page 21
        Page 22
        Page 23
        Page 24
    Some major issues in promoting food security through efforts to increase food production
        Page 25
        Page 26
        Page 27
        Page 28
        Page 29
        Page 30
        Page 31
        Page 32
        Page 33
        Page 34
        Page 35
        Page 36
        Page 37
        Page 38
        Page 39
        Page 40
        Page 41
        Page 42
        Page 43
        Page 44
        Page 45
        Page 46
        Page 47
        Page 48
    Bibliography
        Page 49
        Page 50
        Page 51
        Page 52
Full Text





WOMEN IN FOOD PRODUCTION AND

FOOD SECURITY






















Government Consultation on Role of Women in Food

Production and Food Security

10-13 July, 1984, Harare, Zimbabwe






















Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations

Rome, 1984










(i)





TABLE OF CONTENTS



I. INTRODUCTION



(i) The Food Crisis in Africa

(ii) The Growing Importance of Food Staples, Secondary

Crops, and Gathered Foods

(iii) Food Security

(iv) Mandates for the Socio-Economic Aspects of Development

(v) Mandates to Support "Women Farmers' Role in

Alleviating the Food Crisis"

(vi) Perspective and Purpose of the Paper





II. WOMEN'S CONTRIBUTION TO FOOD PRODUCTION





III. CONSTRAINTS TO INCREASING WOMEN'S ROLE IN FOOD SECURITY



(i) Policy Support

(ii) Data Base

(iii) Access to Land, Water and Other Productive Resources

(iv) Women's Participation and Decision-Making







(ii)


.(v) Extension and Training

(vi) Credit and Marketing

(vii) Women's Need for Cash

(viii) Lack of Aopropriate Technology



SOME MAJOR ISSUES IN PROMOTING FOOD SECURITY THROUGH

EFFORTS TO INCREASE FOOD PRODUCTION



(i) Staple Crops



(a) Labour Constraints

(b) Introduction of New Technologies

(c) Irrication and Imoroved Water Control



(ii) Secondary Food Crops and Gathered Food



(a) Nutritional Factors

(b) Women and Seconary Food Crops



(iii) Animal Production



(iv) Fisheries



(v) Food Handling


(vi) Cbnsulting and Benefiting Rural Women


IV.












I. INTRODUCTION


(i) The Food Crisis in Africa



In the last decade the rate of growth in food'production

has lagged behind that of food demand in 32 out of 41 sub-Saharan

countries, due to high population growth (averaging 3 percent or

more per annum), urbanization (nearly 6 per cent increase per

annum) and growing food demand as a result of rising incomes.

Production has been adversely affected by persistent drought,

precarious rainfall, bush fires, desertification, severe crop

infestation, serious outbreaks of rinderpest and other livestock

diseases, civil strife and refugee problems, shortage of

production inputs and inadequate socio-economic policies.



Between 1969-71 and 1978-80 dietary energy supply as a per

cent of requirements fell in 18 out of the 46 countries in the

Africa Region for which data are available. The serious food crop

failures of 1982 and 1983 in a large part of the continent,

combined with inadequate food imports due to balance of payments

difficulties (in turn compounded by adverse terms of trade for

developing countries and export crop failures) and the shortfall

in emergency food aid, indicate that dietary energy supply will

have further deteriorated in 1982-83. In March 1984 the FAO/WFP

Task Force estimated that 3.3 million tons of emergency food aid




- 2 -


is required for .24 African-countriesl/ facing critical food

shortages in 1984.





(ii) The Growing Importance of Food Staples, Secondary Crops,-and

Gathered Foods



At the same time that dependency on food aid is growing, a

high proportion of the total cropped area.in Africa is devoted to

the production of crops for which there tends to be relatively

limited technical assistance.



Just over half the total cropped area is under cereals,

while roots and tubers account for approximately 10 percent of

cropped.area. The cereals include wheat (11%), barley (8%), paddy

(7%), maize (23%), millet and sorghum (51%). Rice cultivation is

mainly under rainfed- conditions, with irrigation covering only 5

percent of the total area under rice. That adds up to

approximately 35% of the cropped area under production of millet

and sorghum, roots and tubers. These are receiving increased

attention by governments and the development assistance community

because they are drought-resistant and a good source of calories.

They are staple crops in some countries and secondary ones in

others.


1/ Of which 2.3 million tons had been pledged by March 1984.





-3-


Many wild foods are drought resistant since they are well

adapted to their habitats. When combined with millet, sorghum and

cassava, legumes and vegetables grown as secondary crops, these

foods can provide an essential complement to the staple diet not

only in terms of energy and protein, but especially vitamins and

minerals.



In the face of Africa's food crisis, greater caloric

intake and balance in the diet can be promoted through more

attention to cassava, millet and sorghum and to gathered foods.



Also, animal production, particularly of small animal, can

contribute to balanced diets for poor families as can access to

fish. Where production resources are primarily devoted to

cash-crops, the rural household often tries to improve the family

food basket through different members being responsible for

growing or buying different kinds of foods, with some bringing in

purchases based on cash crops; others producing food staples and

secondary crops or providing gathered foods; or raising small

animals.



(iii) Food Security



The recognition of the inter-related technical, social and

economic dimensions of food security systems has led to a revised




-4-


broader concept of food security by FAO1/. The ultimate objective

is "to ensure that all people at all times have both physical and

economic access to the basic food they need".



In this context, food security is seen to "have three

specific aims: ensuring production of adequate food supplies;

maximizing stability in the flow of supplies; and securing access

to available supplies on the part of those who need them".



Action is needed to secure supplies at household as well

as national, regional and international levels. To be effective,

specific measures should be elaborated within the context of food

strategies that have a basic needs approach. Food is one of a

number of basic needs fdr goods and services. For the rural noor

resources may be spread so thinly that none are adequately met.

In this situation, the contribution of all members of society

need to be actively supported.



There are many strategies which the rural poor use to

ensure better food supplies agricultural production, non-farm

income, outmigration, population control for example. Pricing

policies, credit and marketing facilities and wage labour oppor-

tunities affect decisions.











1/ FAO. Director-General's Report on World Food Security: A
Reappraisal of the Concepts and Approaches. Committee on World
Food Security, 13-20 April 1983.









Rural-urban and rural-rural migration relieves pressure on

food supplies in periods of scarcity, reduces rural unemployment

and provides remittances. Since the most active and skilled men

are often the first to depart, migration increases the labour and

responsibilities of women and children left behind. The number of

female headed households is therefore increasing significantly.



Women's roles as food producers and'providers arej crucial

among the poor. They also tend to be responsible for important

staple crops in many countries; for secondary and gathered foods

which are drought resistant.



(iv) Mandates for the Socio-Economic Aspects of Development



Earlier initiatives to promote food security have been

primarily technical in nature. Their failure to increase produc-

tion and food security inevitably led to a re-examination of

these strategies.



A new orientation emerged in the late 1970s which empha-

sized the need to integrate technical aspects of development with

the social and economic dimensions which are crucial for their

effective implementation. This approach was endorsed by the World

Conference on Agrarian Reform and Rural Development (WCARRD),

1979, which called for economic growth with equity and people's

participation, with the integration of women as a pre-requisite

for success.


- 1-




- o -


This major policy change reinforced an appreciation of the,

importance of social and economic relations of production within

a comprehensive farming systems approach to agricultural develop-

ment. This led to a growing awareness of rural inequalities in

access to resources and food and a call for redistributional

pol-iies, with particular emphasis on marginal groups.



(v) Mandates to Support "Women Farmers' Role in Alleviating the

Food Crisis"



At the same time, this new focus drew international atten-

tion to the division of labour and household responsibilities

between rural men and women for the production and purchase of

food. Women were seen to be providing 60-80 per cent of labour in

food production and a substantial contribution to cash production

in many African countries.



It was recognized that many opportunities had been lost to-

support women's on-going production as well as domestic activi-

ties and thus to develop their potential in increasing food

production and food security and to bring more benefits for them

and their families.



In fact, the Lagos Plan of Action (1980) calls on govern-

ments to "recognize women as vital instruments for solving the

food crisis and make deliberate provisions to upgrade their

skills and lessen their labours". It also calls for "continuous





-7-


research to promote the recognition and documentation of women's

contribution to agriculture as a productive activity, especially

in terms of food supply" and gives priority to."establishing and

strengthening women's units in planning ministries to enable them

to integrate a plan of action into national strategies".



At FAO, the 1979 WCARRD chapter on Participation of Women

in the WCARRD Programme of Action (1979) pointed out the

importance of women having direct access to land, water and other

natural resources; to participation in group organisationsl/; to

inputs, markets and services; to education, training and

extension and to the development of non-farm activities.



In particular, WCARRD invited governments to give more

attention to women's responsibilities and needs in food produc-

tion and employment. Strong country interest in this approach is

evident from interventions made at the 1981 Committee on Agri-

culture (COAG) of FAO 2/, which led to reviews at the 1981 and






1/ For more details, see FAO Women in Agriculture Cooperatives.
WCARRD Follow-up Programme, 1983.

2/ The FAO Committee on Agriculture is established by the FAO
Conference as an integrated Committee to give programme advice to
the Council, placing emphasis on "the integration of all social,
technical, economic, institutional and structural aspects related
to agricultural and rural development in general. It is composed
of 84 countries and was established in 1970; it meets biennally
to review selected items of importance to FAO's current and
prospective activities in two major Department and the Economic
and Social Department.




-8-


1983 FAO Conferences in which countries called attention to the

important contributions which' rural women were making in

agriculture and the need for greater support to them.



In 1983 the FAO Committee on Agriculture reviewed the role

of women in agricultural production and approved a programme on

women and food staples proposed in March 1983 in the paper

COAG/83/7, "Follow-up to WCARRD: The Role of Women in

Agricultural Production". As part of this programme, a global

expert consultation on Women in Food Production was held in Rome

in December 1983. It recommended that greater attention and

support be given to women's roles in food security at the

household level,. and to the policy and action implication.

Consequently, this "Regional Governmental Consultation on Women

in Food Production and Food Security" has been organised for

Africa where rural women's contributions to the production and

purchase of food are particularly high.



A number of papers, written for the global expert consul-

tation, addressed a variety of women's roles in agricultural

production, with particul-ar reference to Africa. These papers, on

rice farming systems and dairy cattle, sheep,, oats and poultry,

have been re-issued for this Regional Governmental Consultation

along with the COAG background paper and a paper on women in

statistics.


As preparations proceed for the 1985 World Conference to





- 9 -


Review and Appraise the Women's Decade, to be held in Kenya, more

and more attention is being given to women farmers' contribution

to family food supplies and the means through which to strengthen

this and their benefits. FAO is also preparing a chapter on rural

women in agriculture for the World Survey on Women, a document

for the World Conference to Review and Appraise the Achievements

of the United Nations Decade for Women, to be held in Nairobi,

July 1985. The deliberations of this meeting will be relevant.



(vi) Perspective and Purpose of the Paper



It can be seen, then, that the severity of Africa's

Increasing food crisis and the failure of existing policies and

actions to arrest the continuing deterioration of per capital

production and consumption has in fact led to a greater

recognition of women's crucial role in food production and food

security and to our consideration of the ways in which greater

support for rural women farmers can promote food security,

particularly at the household level.



The contributions which women make to food security

through their roles in animal production and fisheries are also

important to recognize and support. The scale of the food crisis,

and the severity of its impact, calls for innovative approaches

that break through any stereotypes that may exist and dictate

that policies and assistance may be directed primarily to men,

who are not in fact providing most of the labour.force engaged in




- 10 -


food production in Africa. It should be possible to take advan-

tage of traditional division of labour between men and women, and

the existence of women's groups, to direct. inputs and services to

these groups as well as to individual women. This can permit a

new orientation without confrontation between men and women or

within families.



The perspective of this paper is that in order to increase

food production and food security we need to analyse the cons--

traints to and factors favouring food production. Since women

play crucial but neglected roles in this sphere, the paper exa-

mines the constraints specific to women and proposes measures to

remove these and thereby increase their output and efficiency

while lessening their burdens and providing them and their fami-

lies with incentives and benefits.



The paper briefly reviews women's responsibilities for

cash and staple crop production, for secondary crops and gathered

foods, for animal production, fisheries and food handling along

with the constraints and possible remedies for each sub-sector.

With regard to support for women farmers, governmental and

international initiative could improve general policy; resources

and credit; agricultural practices and technologies; inputs,

marketing extension and training; support of village-level

organizations and research.





- 11 -


A separate document for this meeting lists possible

actions to be taken in each of these areas. Solutions will, of

course, need to be adapted to local conditions. Examples of

efforts being made or to be undertaken by different countries

will be invaluable as the basis for future concrete action. The

purpose of this paper, then, is to stimulate recommendations to

be endorsed at international, regional and national levels that

are pertinent to women's roles in food production and food

security.







*II. WOMEN'S CONTRIBUTION TO FOOD PRODUCTION




Throughout the African continent men and women have

separate but complementary responsibilities for the production,

purchase, processing and preparation of household food. These

vary considerably according to culture and socio-economic group.



In addition to being expected to look after children and,

on a daily basis to cook and provide water and fuel, rural

African women are often expected to provide a substantial

proportion if not all of the basic daily food for the family.

While some wild foods are gathered, the bulk of food supplies are

either produced or purchased. Women thus need time to grow food





* For more detail see the paper "Follow-up to WCARRD, The Role of
Women in Agricultural Production" COAG/83/7, 1983





12 -


crops and care for animals and/or entrepreneurial activities.

Reducing time demands on women for' both domestic and productive

activities is thus vital 'if families are not to suffer unduly.

Production goals may also be ieopardised by competing time

demands since women's labour contributes heavily to cash crop

production. In some cases women are withdrawing their labour in

favour of food crops.



Men and women not only have separate labour roles for

household food production and cash crops, but also differential

managerial and financial control over production, storage and

sales of surpluses. In sub-Saharan Africa women have crucial

roles in all these aspects of crop production. Men often do the

physically demanding work of land clearing, burning and

ploughing. Women specialise in weeding, transplanting,

post-harvest work and, in some areas, land preparation with small

hoes. Both take part in seeding and harvesting.



In most countries some food crops are regarded as women's

- even though men may contribute labour and women have control

over their use, storage and sale. This is quite apart from their

own cash crop production over which they have complete control.




*4


13 -



In North Africa, where women have a less important role in

field crop production, they have virtually complete responsi-

bility for the processing of crop and animal products. In various

parts of Africa women may play a role in settled large animal

systems herding, provision of water and feed, cleaning stalls,

milking, collecting dung. However, throughout the continent their

major role in animal production systems is processing, particu-

larly milk products such as fermented milk, butter, ghee and

fresh cheese. In addition they often have responsibility for the

husbandry and marketing of small animals, especially sheep, goats

and poultry. These not only contribute to the family's food

security, but also provide women with a personal income.



The fishing sector is also .characterized by a long-

standing division of labour between men and women. Men are

responsible for all marine fishing and most inland fish

production while women play an important, though not exclusive,

role in smoking, drying and marketing fish. Women generally work

on their own account, keeping their financial affairs separate

from their husband's and even purchasing fish from their

husbands.



The complementary division of labour and sharing of res-

ponsibilities forms the basis of many traditional societies' food

security strategies. Specialization by the various members

permits households to undertake a wide range of productive

activities, and thus spread risks. In addition, it facilitates

the acquisition of specialised skills and knowledge.





14-




Separate responsibilities of men and women for their own

enterprises promotes a strong sense of initiative and entrepre-

neurship. In fact, it is women's traditional independent and

responsible roles which have enabled men to migrate in search of

work and food, leaving the women in charge.







III. CONSTRAINTS TO INCREASING WOMEN'S

ROLE IN FOOD SECURITY





This section highlights some general constraints to

increasing women's role in household food security, particularly

at the household level. These underline the more specific const-

raints examined in the later sections on crop, animal and

fisheries production and food handling.



(i) Policy support



Increasing attention is being givenjto promoting the

effectiveness of women's roles in food production and food

security by the Lagos Plan of Action, the WCARRD Programme of

Action, WCARRD follow-up missions and country food strategies.

However, there is a need to counterbalance the isolation of

issues affecting women in separate sections of reports by





15 -



incorporating specific references to'women, where appropriate, in

the technical sections. Failure to do so tends to lead to their

neglect by policy makers and planners working on technical

agricultural problems,



For example, carefully established agricultural commodity

pricing policy is one of the key elements which would establish

effective production incentives for the primary producers as well

as benefiting rural families directly through increased incomes.

It is also important to achieve the organizational improvements

in the delivery of agricultural inputs and services accompanied

by favourable pricing policies effecting rural women.



Although women play a crucial role in agricultural

production and marketing, in 1982 only 0.05 percent of total

allocations in the UN system to the agricultural sector were to

programmes for rural women. Moreover, the increase in

disbursements between 1974-1982 was less than one-half of that

for all other agricultural sub-sectors. Unfortunately separate

figures are not given for Africa. Presumably women also benefited

from some of the allocations to other agricultural sub-sectors

but given the constraints to their full participation in rural

.development programmes, this is clearly an area in which more

information is needed.



The major share of development resources are still

allocated to technical agricultural projects for men or farm




-16 -


families, assumed to be male-headed. Small, separate programmes

and projects are funded for women so governments can be seen 'to

be doing something for women. However, these are often in minor

crops such as vegetables for which there is no market and which

are highly perishable,' despite women's crucial role in the

production of major staple and cash crops and livestock, the

processing of crops, fish 'and dairy products, and marketing a

wide.range of goods.



Such programmes and projects for women are often located

in ministries of social affairs or women's bureau. This inc-

reases their isolation from technical staff and services concent-

rated in the technical ministries.



Finally, women's projects tend to be justified largely on

social grounds and lack adequate appraisal of their technical and

economic viability.



(ii) Data base



A major constraint to the effective incorporation of women

in agricultural development programmes is the sparse data avai-

lable to planners on women's actual roles and responsibilities

for food production.



Current statistical data on women's agricultural labour

force participation rates are often unreliable and inconsistent,

due to use of varying concepts and definitions of economic acti-





- 17 -


vity and methodological problems of data collection.



The result is that women's economic activities and their

contribution to production for the market as well as household

consumption are seriously under-estimated since: (i) question-

naires often ask for only the main occupation which excludes

women's multiple domestic and economic activities; (ii) many

tasks which are generally unpaid and do not bring a marketable

output (threshing grain and fetching water, fuel and wild foods)

get classified as "domestic" although these activities represent

a vital contribution to family income and welfare; (iii) most

censuses and surveys have short reference periods which may

exclude seasonal activities in which women have important roles;

(iv) separate data is not collected for women's labour roles and

responsibilities for production for home consumption and the

market; (v) women's income earning work is sometimes "invisible"

and therefore unreported because of cultural values about

appropriate roles for women.



Data on other labour force indicators, such as employment

status, male-female wage differentials, percentages of male and

female household heads, and distribution of .assets, are even more

sparse.



Micro-level studies are useful in providing the economic,

social and local political context necessary to interpret the

statistical data. However, most existing micro-level studies are

carried out by academic researchers and are rarely designed to




- 18 -


serve national planning needs.



(iii) Access to-land, water and other productive resources



Both the WCARRD Programme of Action (1979) and the

Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women

(33rd General Assembly, 1980) called for measures to improve

women's legal status, in land and agrarian reform. The major

problem, pointed out by the Progress Report on WCARRD Proqramme

of Action for the FAO Conference, 1983 (C 83/23) is that "in most

statutory codes, it is difficult to assess any discrimination

within the laws per se. The constraint remains more in the inter-

pretation and implementation of the laws, women's lack .of em-

powerment in knowing the legislation and utilizing law as a

development tool".



However, most legislation has not promoted women's legal

ownership and inheritance rights and has at times undermined

women's traditional use rights under customary land tenure

systems by registering land in the name of the husband or first

son. This marginalises women in situations of agrarian trans-

formation which are designed to modernize the agricultural sector

and improve equality in access to resources. Since women

represent well over half the agricultural labour force in

sub-Saharan Africa and an increasing number are becoming de jure

and de facto household heads, this acts as a serious constraint

on improving women's productivity and the access of households to

the important foods which women produce.





- 19 -


While this is a general problem, it is particularly

obvious in many irrigation and settlement schemes which fa-il to

allocate tenancies to women, while enforcing regulations on which

crops may be cultivated. The following are consequences for food

security at the household level:



(i) Households may be deprived of the food crops-grains

legumes and vegetables formerly- cultivated y

women. Thus, additional food must be purchased, often

at high costs. Men are not accustomed to using their

income to pay for foods traditionally provided by

their wives. While they would purchase staples,

supply of other complementary foods may be inadequate

to meet nutritional needs.



(ii) Women's workload on household plots controlled by

their husbands may increase disproportionately at the

expense of their customary personal agricultural and

off-farm income earning activities.



In many countries women have no inheritence rights to

livestock and other productive resources. In other cases their

lack- of knowledge of the law prevents them from demanding their

rights, particularly if cultural factors reinforce male

managerial and financial control over female property. This

seriously undermines women's ability to build up the capital

assets necessary for investing in new agricultural technologies

and to provi-de the collateral necessary for obtaining





20 -


agricultural credit.



(iv) Women's participation and decision-making



African women traditionally have considerable decision-

making and managerial power in their spheres of food production,

processing, storage, marketing and in their domestic role of food

preparation and budgeting. This is inter-linked with their other

non-farm entrepreneurial and employment activities which they

pursue on their own account. These are crucial to provide the

means- to fulfil efficiently their responsibilities for household

food supplies as well as other basic necessities such as clothes,

medicines, utensils and their own religious and ceremonial

obligations.



In many African countries women have traditional social

organizations which are separate from the men's but which are

regularly consulted by the village elders. However, most

development associations such as cooperatives or irrigation

scheme committees rarely permit women to register as members

unless they are household heads and even then they are usually

excluded from decision-making positions. Their exclusion is in

many cases undermining their traditional authority and respect

within the community, while at the same time depriving these

associations of the benefits of women's agricultural experience

and knowledge.



In some countries separate village-level development





- 21 -


associations may be needed for women. However, in most parts of

Africa there is often no social reason why women cannot

participate equally with men in the same association. In this

case it may be necessary to reserve some official positions.for

women, and to ensure that they are given training in leadership,

administration and financial management.



These associations offer a viable means.through which

resources, inputs and services, extension and training can be

delivered to women farmers.



(v) Extension and training



Extension and training programmes should play important

roles in providing technical advisory services to women farmers.

However, various studies show that extension and training

activities often only provide limited technical backstopping to

rural women. The major constraints appear to be in the following

areas: (i) the training of extension staff is often based on a

purely technical crop production approach which fails to take

sufficient account of the farming needs and socio-economic

constraints of rural families; (ii) insufficient field staff are

appointed, particularly female extension workers; (iii) there is

inadequate coordination among extension, credit, marketing and.

research services; (iv) front line extension officers have

inadequate transport facilities and farming supplies for field




-22 -



level demonstration activities; (v) supervision of field staff is

inadequate while technically trained personnel are often confined

to administrative work in the capitals.



Training programmes carried out by farmer training centres

do not generally take sufficient account of the technical

learning needs and cultural characteristics of women farmers. The

schedule and timing of training programmes are often in conflict

with rural women's time constraints. Follow up by field staff is

usually unsatisfactory.



(vi) Credit and Marketing



Existing credit and marketing systems- are generally

inadequate in meeting rural women's needs. Due to institutional

regulations, they are often unable to receive credit in their

own names. Moreover, since they have few assets they cannot

provide the collateral required by lending institutions.



Little effort has been made in most countries to inform

women of credit facilities. The minimum size of loans, the

purpose for which loans are available and repayment terms are

frequently ill adapted to the enterprises in which women are

engaged. Financial institutions are often reluctant to give small

scale credit when they have little control over the supporting

services such as extension and distribution networks for inputs

and marketing, as well as pricing policies, all of which are

essential factors in making the loans viable.





- 23 -


Improved price incentives and marketing facilities, shaped

to meet the needs of women farmers, are a pre-condition of pro-

duction increases. The latter include: market information and

forecasting services, improved physical infrastructure including

transportation, refrigeration and storage, and the egual partici-

pation of women in production and marketing cooperatives.



(vii) Women's need for cash



Women not only need cash to purchase food and other basic

necessities for themselves and their families but also to pay for

the improved production inputs that are a prerequisite for pro-

ductivity increases. Since food crops are generally consumed, the

inputs for these crops have to be provided from cash income

earned in other agricultural entreprises or non-farm employment

and entrepreneurial activities. Thus in order to improve house-

hold food production, greater attention also needs to be given to

increasing women's earnings from agricultural market production

as well as other income-earning activities.



Women, like men, make trade-offs between food and non-food

crop production for sale. Production of non-food export crops is

often preferred since prices have generally been more favourable

.for these- crops and because research and agricultural services

have for decades been concentrated in this sector. The lack of





24.-


economic incentives for food crops has led to their being

produced primarily for subsistence, particularly in situations

where food is not available in the markets due to low prices,

distributional problems within countries.-or lack of foreign

exchange.



These disincentives to food production need removing as a

precondition for increasing food production for the market. This

is likely to have a larger impact on women than men since women

tend to have a greater responsibility for food crop production

than men and make a correspondingly smaller contribution to cash

crop production.



(viii) Lack of appropriate technology



Insufficient attention has been given to studying women's

time constraints, energy demands and expressed needs for

appropriate technologies. Thus there are many areas, particularly

with regard to their domestic tasks, where appropriate

technologies have yet to be developed for rural African women.

Women should ideally be involved in the design and testing of

such technologies, and both they and rural men be trained in

their use, maintenance and repair. Diffusion programmes would

need to be closely related to credit and extension services.



The lack of adequate attention to appropriate technologies

for women compared with men has at times disrupted the balance in

the division of labour. For example, the introduction of-tractor





- 25 -


and animal drawn equipment to men has in many countries reduced

male workloads and permitted an expansion in the area under

cultivation while increasing the labour demand for women in

transplanting and weeding without providing appropriate labour-

saving equipment for women.







IV. SOME MAJOR ISSUES IN PROMOTING

FOOD SECURITY THROUGH EFFORTS TO INCREASE FOOD PRODUCTION





This section analyses socio-economic factors affecting

women's participation, processing and marketing with regard to

staple crops; secondary food crops and gathered food; animal

production; fisheries; and food handling. Possible technical

measures to enhance food security are considered in each section;

the need to consider priorities and benefits from rural women's

point of view is also addressed.



(i) Staple Crops



In recent years greater attention has been given to

promoting drought or disease resistant staple crops and early

maturing varieties for reasons of food security. The most impor-

tant drought resistant crops are millets, sorghum and cassava.

While these are considerably more tolerant of water stress than

maize, there are as yet no high yielding varieties to compare




26 -


with the maize hybrids. Moreover, since' they have a relatively

low response rate to fertilisers, little can be done to make a.

substantial impact on yields.



On the other hand, in conditions of 'poor rainfall, there

wil be some harvested crop, while maize is more likely to fail

completely. Since hybrid maize requires the purchase of new seeds

each year and high fertilizer applications, the financial costs

of crop failures may result in indebtedness, increased poverty

and hunger.



The cultivation of early millet is being recommended f.or

areas where rainfall is light or stops abruptly-before the.end of

the normal wet season. Early millet, with its short duration

3-month growing period, therefore takes advantage of the early

rains. However, since it has no awns, it requires birdscaring.

Yields are lower than those obtained with late millet, provided

the distribution and amount of rainfall is normal.



Another early maturing, drought-resistant crop, findi

(Digitaria exilis) is not usually grown on a large scale although

it has low labour requirements and is generally appreciated as a

food. Yields are low and processing of the small -rain is more

difficult and time-consuming than for the other coarse grains.





- 27 -


The -Larger Grain Borer has been causing considerable losses of

maize, dried cassava and-groundnuts in Tanzania since 1981. The

pest is now beginning to spread into areas bordering Kenya and

Burundi. The cassava mealybug is also causing substantial

destruction throughout Africa. Given the crucial importance of

these crops for food security, major international and national

campaigns are being mounted against these and other pests.



(a) Labour Constraints



Farmers' crop choices will involve trade-offs which take

account of drought and disease resistant qualities of these and

other crops (such as rice, yams, sweet potatoes) as well as

dietary preferences. These may vary according to socio-economic

group the poorest being least able to withstand risk. In all but

the lowest rainfall areas where farmers have little choice of

crops, many farmers are likely to cultivate a variety of crops

with different maturation periods in order to spread risks.



Two essential factors affecting farmers' crop choices are

the labour requirements of alternative crops and, since male and

female labour is not always inter-changeable, the availability of

specialised household labour.




- 28 -.


Early millet and white sorghum require more labour inten-

sive birdscaring than late millet and red sorghum. Early millet

is lower yielding than late millet. Many farmers prefer to grow

both crops since this staggers labour demand and minimises risk.



Women's crop choices are also influenced by the relative.

labour demand for the processing and preparation of the various

cereals, roots and tubers. Rice involves the least labour. Pro-

cessing of millet and cassava is generally considered to be more

tiring and time-consuming than sorghum and maize. This is an area

in which the diffusion of improved, low-cost equipment is an

urgent oriority.



Households with little or no active male labour tend to

concentrate production on crops which require few inputs from

men. When men migrate or put most of their effort into cash crop

production, the clearing, burning, and construction of enclosures

which they are often expected to do on women's fields is only

delayed. This leads to late planting and poor yields.



Women's inability to clear thick bush with existing hand

tools leads to longer cropping rotations on land that should be

fallowed after one to three years. Since they can clear light

secondary bush, fallow periods are being reduced, resulting in

declining fertility and yields and increasing erosion.





- 29 -


The increased demand for female labour has sometimes led

to a shift to less-labour intensive, less nutritious crops. In

South East Ghana, for example, where cocoa was introduced but

became unprofitable, many .men migrated leaving women entirely

responsible for the family and for food production. These inc-

reased responsibilities led women to replace yam, the traditional

staple, with cassava. The main reasons for this shift were the

relatively higher returns to labour for cassava measured in terms

of weight and.calories and the fact that cassava can be planted

almost throughout the year and stored in the ground for up to 2

years to be 'harvested when needed. This spreads labour and

provides an efficient method of storage.



However, the replacement of yam by cassava has nutritional

disadvantages. The protein content in cassava is much lower.

Cassava is not usually inter-cropped since it exhausts soil nut-

rients. In contrast, yams are traditionally inter-cropped with

vegetables and legumes which provides additional sources of

vitamins and proteins (Bukh, 1977).







(b) Introduction of New Technologies



The following examples of different types of development

programmes demonstrate the crucial need to take into account

women's labour roles and responsibilities for production and

control of the crops.




- 30 -


The first set of examples concerns the. introduction of

high yielding hybrid maize varieties. The results have been

varied and sometimes unpredictable. Maize hybrids were introduced

in Swaziland and Lesotho with the objective of increasing the

viability of smallholder agriculture and reducing male

outmigration and maize imports. However, farmers now plant

smaller areas of hybrids compared with the traditional varieties,

thus releasing more male labour for migration which brings higher

returns than agriculture. Women's labour and responsibilities for

food production are correspondingly increased (Low, 1982).



In Zimbabwe, where hybrid maize was directly introduced to

women farmers, production has increased substantially (Callear,

1983). In contrast, a programme to encouraQe the cultivation of

hybrid maize in Tanzania through extension and the distribution

of subsidized seeds, fertilisers and pesticides to men met with

resistance from women farmers who predominate in food crop pro-

duction. The result was an increased workload for women without

concurrent control over the income. There was also some resis-

tance to the cultivation of pure stands (essential for hybrid

maize) since maize is traditionally inter-cropped with beans or

cassava. The latter represent a valuable complement to maize

protein and their reduced importance in the farming system could

have negative nutritional consequences (Tobisson, 1980).



A second type of development initiative concerns the

introduction of improved inputs and agronomic practices to raise

production of traditional food crops. A project among the Tiv in




31



central Nigeria assumed the operation of a joint family farm-

despite the fact that men and women traditionally have distinct

labour roles and control of specific crops. Designed to raise

productivity for all food and cash crops, it had an uneven impact

on male and female labour. Women's annual agricultural labour

input increased by 17 percent compared with a 6 percent increase

for men. The distribution of male labour throughout the season

was relatively even while women experienced new labour

bottlenecks during the harvesting, post-harvest and storage

period. Although increases in returns to labour were roughly

equal, men's returns had a larger cash component since they

control a larger share of marketed crops (Burfisher and

Horenstein, 1982).



Spencer (1976) reports a contrary example. A swamp rice

development scheme in Sierra Leone scarcely affected women's

workloads while men and children's labour were substantially

increased. However, since there is no discussion of the crucial

related issue of the control and distribution of the crop, it is

not clear how women benefitted from the project.



An experimental upland rice project in the forest region

of central Ivory Coast illustrates an imaginative approach to

improving women's productivity. Men traditionally clear and burn

the forest and make enclosures while women are responsible for

all other tasks. Experiments include the diffusion of

short-duration, drought-tolerant seeds; rotations with maize,

cassava and Stylosanthes (tropical lucerne) including fertilizer




32 -


and herbicide trials; the use of small tractors run on a

cooperative basis to transport fuel, water and crops to save

women 2-3 hours daily; and the establishment of food crop marke-

ting cooperatives with male and female members (Dey, 1983.).



(c) Irrigation and Improved Water Control



Full irrigatioii permits double and even triple cropping

and partial water control increases the reliability of water

supplies in the wet season The improved inputs and agronomic

practices usually introduced for crops grown with improved water

control increase the total quantity of food available to the

family as well as returns to labour.



In many cases the introduction of new irrigation systems

has reduced women's independent farming roles. Tenancies are

usually allocated to men and women's increased workload

throughout the year on new "household" plots controlled by men is

usually at the expense of their own crops and other personal

income-earning activities. This affects the nutritional balance

in the diet since men do not necessarily purchase these foods

which women were accustomed to produce or buy.



Female-headed households are particularly disadvantaged

since they are often excluded from tenancies. In some cases





- 33 -


widows are allowed tocultivate their deceased husband's plots on

the understanding that their sons will inherit the tenancies.

However, they are rarely represented on scheme committees and

have limited access to extension staff and services.



(ii) Secondary Food Crops and Gathered Food 1/



In recent years increasing attention has been given to the

important role of secondary food crops and gathered food in rural

diets in many parts of Africa. Since women play a predominant

part in their cultivation and gathering, the relative neglect of

women's productive activities has been a factor in the under-

exploitation of these foods which are an important complement to

the staple diet.






Greater exploitation of these foods could provide a

significant contribution to food security and nutrition. Given

the seasonal variations in their maturation, a selection of

plants are generally available throughout most of the year. They

are therefore often crucial sources of food in the pre-harvest

hungry season when staple food supplies are scarce or only

available at high prices (Longhurst, 1983).











1/ Gathered food refers to wild plants and animal f.oods (for
example, roots, leaves, fruits, nuts, animals, insects, fish
and birds) which are hunted or gathered.




- 34 -


Certain crops such as Digitaria exilis findd) have low

labour requirements, mature early, and are also drought

resistant. Cassava, millet and sorghum, which have been discussed

above as staple'crops, are grown as minor crops in some areas.





A number of plants provide a variety of different foods at

different seasons. For example, the baobab provides starchy fruit

pulp (monkey bread), young shoots and leaves. The fan palm has

edible fruit pulp and nuts.



(a) Nutritional Factors



The nutritional value of secondary foods has been largely

under-estimated. Secondary foods generally form the basis of the

sauces and relishes served with the staple, complementing the

nutritional contribution of the staples. They also provide

variety in the diet, which increases palatability and appetite.



The value of the protein in cereals is balanced and

enhanced by combining it with a grain legume (beans, peas,

lentils, groundnuts). Green leaves, orange fruits and vegetables

provide vitamin A (a lack of which causes eye lesions in small

children) and vitamin C. Oils and fats improve the absorption of

vitamin A are energy dense. Even small amounts of animal foods

(such as eggs, dairy products, meat and fish) greatly improve the

nutrient value of the diet.





- 35 -


Fruit and nuts provide energy,.protein and vitamins. These

are particularly valuable for "small children whose limited

capacity to eat sufficient' food at regular mealtimes needs

supplementing with snacks between meals. Fresh fruit and nuts

have the advantage of being energy dense. Moreover, they are less

likely to lead to infection than snacks of left-over meals that

may have been badly stored and become contaminated.





(b) Women and Secondary Food Crops



Since in many African countries women are responsible for

providing the sauces and relishes eaten with the staples, they

have tended to play a predominant role in the cultivation of

secondary crops and gathering of wild food.



Women often gather wild foods and fuel on their way home

from the fields. The cultivation of secondary crops such as

legumes and vegetables in gardens near the home may be more

compatible with women's domestic and child-care duties than

field crop production.



However, women commonly grow secondary crops in small

fields near the major food and cash crops. In some farming

systems secondary crops such as cowpeas, bambara nuts and

groundnuts are inter-cropped with the staple cereals, roots and

tubers. They balance soil nutrients, provide ground cover which

improves water .retention and erosion control, and in some cases




- 36 -


tubers. They balance soil nutrients, provide ground cover which

improves water retention and erosion control, and in some cases

helps to reduce crop diseases and pests.



Women's concern with family food supplies sometimes leads

them to culivate small fields of early-maturing grains. Gambian

women traditionally grew findi as a famine food (Haswell, 1975).

B6t6 women in the Ivory Coast recently started growing small

fields of short-duration rainfed rice which matures before the

major rice crop (Capasso, 1981). In some areas of Zimbabwe women

plant maize in their home gardens three months before sowing the

maize field crops. These gardens, planted before the main rains,

reauire daily watering but produce a crop two to three months

before the main harvest (Callear, 1983).



Secondary foods are often processed at home providing, for

example, groundnut or palm oil, beer, soao, shea butter and gari.

Green leaves and vegetables, fruits, spices and roots are

sometimes dried. Despite some nutrient loss, total food supplies

are increased for periods of scarcity.



These crops or processed products may be consumed by the

household or sold to provide a small income for women. Since they





37 -



are of minor economic importance and processing is traditionally

women's responsibility, they are not likely to become sources of

major cash income and pass under men's control.



The undervaluing of the contribution of these secondary

crops and wild foods to food security and nutrition, and women's

role in their cultivation, gathering and preparation has two

unfortunate consequences.



First, little attention has been given to improving pro-

duction of these secondary crops except as part of crop rotations

or multiple and inter-cropping systems which include crops of

major economic importance.



Second, development policies promoting staple food or

export cash crops have at times led to a decline in the produc-

tion of these secondary crops. In some cases men have shifted

their labour into cash crops, increasing women's labour on cereal

or root and tuber staples at the expense of secondary crops. In

other cases land on which women produced secondary crops has been

taken over for household or men's cash crop production.



In some irrigated settlement schemes, for example, in

Upper Volta (Dey, 1983; Conti, 1979) all the tenancies were

allocated to men for the production of major food or cash crops.

Women were not given any personal plots, despite their tradition




38- "


of growing household staple and secondary food crops. Land pres-

'sure in these areas, together with their stranger status among

the indigenous inhabitants, greatly restricted their opportu-

nities to borrow land for their own food crops.



In the Mwea Rice Irrigation 'Settlement in Kenya (Hanger

and Moris, 1973) not all women secured plots of scarce rainfed

land on which to grow the traditional maize and bean crops for

which they are responsible. Even 10 years after rice had been

introduced as a new staple, beans and maize remained the pre-

ferred food because "it stays longer with us".



Men's control of cash income meant that women who had

insufficient or no land of their own had to rely on their

husbands to purchase the foods they used to grow or buy. Men were

sometimes reluctant to take over all these former obligations of

their wives, while women resented losing the self-respect and

prestige their independent farming and income-generating acti-

vities brought. This led to women with-holding some of the rice

harvest (which was supposed to be sold to the scheme) for home-

processing and black market sales or reciprocated gifts to off-

scheme relatives.



A greater understanding of the nutritional value of

secondary crops and women's responsibilities for these helps

clarify the need which women have for direct access to land plots

in settlement and irrigation schemes.




- 39


To preserve, and preferably increase the important contri-

butions which secondary foods make to the diet, the time demands

on women will need to be reduced and relevant inputs and services

as well as land given to them.





(iii) Animal Production



A wide range of measures are being undertaken in Africa to

increase animal production as a means to improving food security.

These include the reconstitution of herds decimated by drought,

reduction of seasonal fluctuations in milk supplies and animal

body weight, the introduction of improved breeds, husbandry

practices, disease prevention and control, and marketing systems.

Examples of such progrmmes and the implications for women owners

and managers have been analyzed in papers on dairy cattle

(Chavangi and Hanssen, 1983), sheep and goats (Safilios-

Rothschild, 1983) and small animals (FAO, 1983). While some

issues are specific to different types of animals and types of

production systems, all are affected by cultural factors.

Throughout, women's participation in animal production is evi-

dent, along with the need to support this if household food

supplies are to be balanced.



Development policies and programmes tend to under-estimate

women's contributions to animal production, and the processing

and marketing of animal products leading to limited participation

of women in large scale livestock and integrated rural




a~q~ 4


development projects. In part, this is a result of the greater

value accorded to larger animals (cattle, buffalos and camels)

for which women have limited production roles compared with their

more important contribution to sheep, goats and small animal

production, particularly for poultry. Other reasons are a

relative neglect of processing done almost exclusively by women,

and a "failure to distinguish between, ownership and managerial

roles regarding animal production, processing and marketing.



While in many countries women have no formal ownership

rights to cattle, they frequently play important labour and

managerial roles in both the husbandry and processing and sale of

dairy products, often deriving personal income from the latter as

a form of compensation and incentive for their work. Women's ina-

bility to inherit cattle in some countries places female-headed

households in a particularly disadvantaged economic situation.

Development programmes which take into' account only formal

ownership rights may deprive women of access to extension and

training, cooperative membership, credit facilities, and the

proceeds from the sale of milk and dairy products. Women may

therefore not be particularly motivated to increase their labour

inputs, thus limiting productivity.



With increasing commercialized processing of dairy

products by private enterprises, cooperatives or statal organi-

sations, and the enforcement of hygiene and quality regulations,

women are being squeezed out of village-level own-account or wage

employment in the processing and marketing of dairy products.




- 41 -


Lack of technical, expertise, capital and credit limit their

ability to compete, while low educational levels and heavy family

responsibilities restrict their access to jobs in processing

plants.



This leads to: (i) a loss of a traditional source of

income for women, formerly used to purchase food and other -basic

consumption items; (ii) a decline in home production and a

parallel need to purchase the more expensive commercial dairy

products, which may be beyond the purchasing power of the poorest

families; (iii) a tendency among poor families to sell their

milk products and purchase less nutritious bulky foods.



Equally important to promoting women's participation in

and benefits from large-scale livestock projects is greater

attention to small scale projects for sheep, goats and poultry.

Evaluations of some on-going women's projects for small animals

in Africa indicate the importance of recognizing the need to: (i)

base project design on cost-benefit analyses as well as social

concerns; (ii) locate women's animal development projects in

technical ministries and not ministries of social affairs

(Safilios-Rothschild, 1983).



(iv) Fisheries



Fish contribute significantly to the nutritional quality

and palatability of the predominantly cereal-based diets of

low-income groups. Poor conditions of processing, storage and




42z .


cooking can lead to nutrient and food losses and the formation of

toxic products. Since the primary constraint to increased

consumption is the 16w purchasing power of most rural and urban

households, rather than availability.of fish resources, the

development of inland or marine fishing may have to be part of an

integrated programme to raise incomes.



Men and women have complementary roles in the fisheries

sector, with men largely responsible for fishing and women for

processing. Both may be engaged in marketing, depending on

cultural and economic fact-ors. A failure to appreciate these

complementary roles has in the past led to development programmes

focused on raising men's fish production, without introducing

corresponding measures to expand women's capacity to process the

increased supply of fish.



Although the need for balanced development of production,

processing and marketing aspects of the fisheries sector is being

increasingly recognized, little attention has been given to

examining women's traditional methods of fish processing, storage

and marketing and the constraints to increasing their

productivity.



Both fishermen and women engaged in fish processing and

marketing are generally considered to have spare capacity if

demand and prices were to increase to provide sufficient incen-

tives. Given low rural incomes and the relatively inelastic

market for fish in rural areas, it is essential that production





- 43 -


costs be kept low.



Therefore, there is a need for low-cost, improved proces-

sing technologies. The long-standing technique of using 55 gallon

drums for smoking has much to recommend it. Additional drums can

easily be added or removed to accommodate seasonal fluctuations

in supply. Mud brick smokers with grills are proving suitable,

low-cost replacements.



Cost-benefit analysis is required before new technologies

are introduced. For example, the Altona oven is not necessarily

suitable in all conditions since it has high capital and fuel

costs and requires a large throughput to be economic. The pur-

chase of these ovens could create serious problems of loan

repayment.



Fish farming is being promoted for women since it can be

combined with other agricultural and domestic activities. Care

may be needed to ensure that its introduction does not negatively

affect the traditional division of labour.



Women's role in fish feeding complements their domestic

work. Compound and village sweepings (dung and vegetable

peelings) can be used for pond composting. The dregs from millet,

sorghum or maize beer, cereal bran and termites can also be used

as fish feed.




44
44 -


(v) Food Handling



Food handling systems for crops, livestock and fisheries

include post-harvest operations, processing, marketing, storage

and meal preparation. Improvements in the traditional system are

a prerequisite for increased food security in terms of stabi-

lising food supplies and maintaining the nutritional value of

processed and stored foods. Since women play important and

sometimes exclusive roles in all these activities, they must be

fully involved in programmes to improve food handling.



Throughout Africa women are receptive to the adoption of

improved technologies that lighten their workload, increase

efficiency, reduce losses and raise their own and household

incomes. The occasional claim that women are unwilling to change

or experiment because they are conservative or not mechanically

minded masks a failure to recognize serious socio-economic

constraints to the adoption of some technologies.



Women's responses to new technologies are based on ratio-

nal decisions within the context of their multiple roles and

efforts to feed the family. Wherever hullers and mills are intro-

duced women often pay for these services with their own money or

in kind. If they are not available at the village level, women

may find alternative ways of avoiding the chore of hand pounding.

For example, in the Katilu Irrigation Scheme, Kenya, women

economise on domestic labour by marketing their maize production

and purchasing maize flour (Broche-Due, 1983). Women workers on a




- 45 -


multinational vegetable scheme in Senegal purchased with their

-own money milled millet and sorghum although the whole grain is

traditionally provided by their husbands (and therefore "free" to

the women).



It is essential that programmes introducing new food

handling technologies for women recognize and reinforce men and

women's complementary and inter-dependent roles for food produc-

tion, storage, processing and marketing. For example, men may

produce grain from which women make beer. Women make gari from

cassava grown by men. Men fish while women process and market the

produce.



For the successful introduction of new technologies for

female tasks such as grain milling men's support is also

essential. Men may have limited financial means to assist, but

their social support and labour contributions in installing and

repairing equipment, erecting shelters, obtaining fuel and spare

parts or dealing with government officials may be crucial to the

success of such projects. Moreover, a failure to consult, inform

and seek men's assistance where appropriate can undermine the

success of projects for women (Date-Bah and Stevens, 1981).



The major constraint to women's adoption of improved

technologies for food handling is lack of financial resources.

This restricts th3ir access to credit since they can offer no

security. Even in cases where women have collateral (inherited or

saved from their own enterprises), they are often unable- to




- -46 -


obtain credit in their own right.



If new technologies are to improve the efficiency, quality

and output of subsistence food handling systems, the costs cannot

be directly recovered from the same operation. This problem may

be solved if the new technologies result in a marketable surplus.

When women control the product and income they will be prepared

to invest in these technologies, possibly also using income from

other sources. However, if the new technologies result in in-

creased output and increased female labour but the proceeds from

sales are controlled by their husbands, women may have little

incentive to change.



A number of cases are reported (Date-Bah et al, 1982;

Aklilu, 1983) of technologies for women being rejected because

they were introduced to men or because they are socially unaccep-

table (for example bicycle-type mills in cultures where women are

not supposed to sit astride).



Women are frequently responsible for the storage of food.

As an estimated 25 percent of all the food produced in Africa is

lost, due to spoilage, insects, rodents and other pests, the

introduction of improved storage methods to women could contri-

bute significantly to food security.



Commercialised processing of dairy products and field and

tree crops is in many cases displacing traditional food

processing. This often deprives women of an important source of





- 47 -


income. While hygiene may be improved in commercial plants,

prices may be increased, with a corresponding decline in con-

sumption by the poor. Mach'ine-milled grain also has a lower

overall nutritional value than when home-milled. Protein, some

vitamins and fibre may be lost although iron availability may be

higher. The latter nutrient is the one often most needed by

women.



When technologies are appropriate and women have the means

to acquire them, they are rapidly assimilated. A good example is

the introduction of cream separators in Egypt which has enabled

women to increase production and incomes in the processing of

dairy products and to reduce their labour (Aklilu, 1983).



Cooperatives are at present the most promising form of

organization for the promotion of women's food handling acti-

vities. If well adapted to local conditions, they enable women to

contribute labour on a flexible basis, utilizing labour that

might have been insufficient for viable own-account income-

earning activities. They also facilitate women's access to credit

and extension services.



Development programmes have for some time given attention

to helping women improve the quality, hygiene and nutritional

aspects of rural diets. Increasing recognition is now being given

to the need to integrate such programmes with women's production

and income-earning activities since the latter provide the basic

foodstuffs or cash necessary to buy additional food items-.




- 48 -


(vi) Consulting and Benefiting Rural Women



It is widely recognized that rural African women work long

hours .each day as mothers, wives, community members and indivi-

duals. Their multiple roles and the heavy time demands of food

production must be taken -into consideration in development

policies, planning and implementation that affect them. As they

gain more direct access to the productive resources, inputs,

services, technology and training which thely need, rural women's

burdens should be eased. However, rural women are not usually

consulted about their own development needs and priorities.

Development .interventions do not always consider production

capacity of rural women and expected benefits that they should be-

receiving in return. Greater involvement of women in planning.and

action, at group and family levels, would be an appropriate

objective for programmes in all the areas discussed in this

paper.





- 49 -


BIBLIOGRAPHY



Aklilu, Delawit. "Appropriate technology for women in. food

production". FAO, Expert Consultation on Women in Food

Production, Rome, December 1983.



Broche-Due, V. Women at the backstage of development. A

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