The gender gap in agricultural productivity in sub-Saharan Africa: Causes, costs and solutions

Authors/editor(s): Yana Rodgers and Haroon Akram-Lodhi

Across sub-Saharan Africa, the agricultural sector remains critical to local and regional economies. It is the basis for food security and an important source of employment, particularly for women. Yet, studies consistently find that female farmers have lower rates of agricultural productivity than male farmers.

Based on original research in five countries (Ethiopia, Malawi, Rwanda, Uganda, and United Republic of Tanzania), this policy brief shows that gender gaps in agricultural productivity do not arise because women are less efficient farmers but because they experience inequitable access to agricultural inputs, including family labour, high-yield crops, pesticides, and fertilizer. Equalizing women’s access to agricultural inputs, including time-saving equipment, and increasing the return to these inputs is therefore critical to close gender gaps in agricultural productivity. It also promises to yield important economic and social gains. Across the five countries, it could raise crop production by up to 19 per cent, boost agricultural and overall GDP, and lift hundreds of thousands of people out of poverty.

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Bibliographic information

Geographic coverage: Africa; Ethiopia; Malawi; Rwanda; Tanzania, United Republic of; Uganda

Subject area(s): Economic empowerment; Employment; Productive resources; Rural women; Women farmers

Resource type: Briefs; Policy papers

Series: UN Women policy brief series

UN Women office involved in publication: UN Women Headquarters

Publication year: 2019

Number of pages: 5

Publishing entities: United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women)