Higher productivity on smaller farms
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CTA. 1995. Higher productivity on smaller farms. Spore 56. CTA, Wageningen, The Netherlands.
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Adoption of hybrid maize in Zambia: effects of gender roles in agriculture, food consumption and nutrition by S K Kumar, IFPRI Research Report 100 IFPRI 1200 Seventeenth Street, NW Washington, DC 20036-3006 USA
The government of Zambia has for many years subsidized the inputs, particularly chemical fertilizer, for growing hybrid maize. This has been particularly true on larger farms. A recent report produced by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) however, finds that small farms are actually more productive and efficient in raising the new varieties than the larger farms. Because of higher labour and productions costs, farms of more than five hectares have difficulty in returning a profit, unless they are subsidized. The report analyzes how adoption of improved maize varieties affects household income, food consumption, and nutrition on farms of different sizes and within households. The report, based on research in Eastern Province, Zambia, examines changes in women's income and in their ability to make decisions concerning the allocation of labour and income. According to the report, women contribute 60% of farm labour and play a major role in decision-making regarding local maize and other food crops. When hybrid maize, a cash crop, is introduced however, women's share of crop management and hence their income decreases. Women spend more time on household maintenance as men shift from non-farm activities to work on hybrid maize. This may indicate that women have reduced access to the resources and knowledge needed to raise hybrid maize, or it may indicate that men are seeking to control a larger share of household income. It has often been shown that household consumption and nutrition improve when women devote more time to household maintenance. However, this report indicates that, while short-term consumption may increase nutrition of children does not improve. A larger share of women's income is more effective in improving welfare than increased allocation of women's time to household maintenance. Moreover whether a man or a woman heads the household is also not a significant factor: who manages the cash crop and receives the larger share of income is found to be far more important. Past agricultural policies have been geared to encouraging adoption of hybrids on large farms and have failed to give market access to small farmers in general and to women farmers in particular. Such policies have contributed to losses in productivity due to marginal returns on expanded acreages using new varieties. The report suggests that policies that encourage use of hybrid maize not only for cash but for food, by the provision of storage and processing facilities, could be effective in increasing productivity Adoption of hybrid maize in Zambia: effects of gender roles in agriculture, food consumption and nutrition by S K Kumar, IFPRI Research Report 100 IFPRI 1200 Seventeenth Street, NW Washington, DC 20036-3006 USA
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