This database was developed by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) in support of enhanced production and use of sex-disaggregated agricultural data. It presents examples of gender relevant questions and tables jointly developed by national statisticians and FAO for agricultural censuses undertaken in Africa between 1993 and 20061.
Statistics producers and users alike called for the development of such a database to improve the production of reliable sex-specific agricultural data needed for targeted policy formulation and planning of agricultural and rural development. The database has been developed in line with the framework of the 2010 round of the World Programme for the Census of Agriculture.
Male and female farmers are affected differently by agricultural policies and programmes because of their diverse yet often complementary roles and responsibilities in agricultural production, disparities in their access to and control over productive resources and the existence of social norms and legal legislations that often favour men over women. Sex-disaggregated agricultural data can be used to illustrate economic, social and political differences that may exist between male and female farmers, to assess the possible impacts of these differences on their production and productivity, and to better understand and recognize men and women’s (changing) roles and responsibilities related to the agricultural sector, rural development and food security.
The need for more sex-disaggregated data was already highlighted as a prerequisite for obtaining more equitable development in the world in a Plan of Action adopted at the First World Conference on Women (1975). Concerning the agricultural sector, the need for this kind of data became more apparent as evidence grew that human capital is a crucial factor for agricultural development and that a lack of sex-disaggregated data could hold back agricultural development. Agricultural plans formulated on the basis of inadequate information contributed to a low impact of policy and planning efforts and the wastage of scarce human, financial and environmental resources (FAO, 2005b).
Much progress has been made in particular during the past two decades with regard to the collection of socio-economic and sex-disaggregated agricultural data due to new data requirements resulting from political changes. Examples of such changes are the expanding role of the private sector and civil society, increased decentralization in decision-making, rising demand for greater transparency in decision-making, and an increased stakeholder participation in planning and decision-making at all levels. Governments are increasingly showing their commitment to address gender concerns in agricultural development programmes and policies and have become more aware of the importance of producing and using sex-disaggregated agricultural statistical data for the planning, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of effective and sustainable agricultural development policies and programmes. Development stakeholders have come to realize that socio-economic and sex-disaggregated agricultural data are essential for the planning of effective responses to matters such as poverty, food insecurity and the HIV/AIDS pandemic (FAO, 2005b).
Merely collecting sex-disaggregated data is insufficient as the data need to be analysed and presented in such a way that they can be used effectively by different groups of data users, including policy makers, planners, statisticians and researchers. Collection and analysis of sex-disaggregated data are now considered essential steps for the development of agricultural programmes, policies and strategies that target men and women as active partners in development and for assessing whether set Millennium Development Goals are being met.
Attempts to develop a worldwide agricultural census programme using a set of harmonized definitions and classifications started in the 1920s and resulted in the 1930 round of the World Programme for the Census of Agriculture (WCA). This was the first round of a ten-year interval programme (FAO, 2005a).
Agricultural censuses carried out in the course of the first six rounds of the programme (WCA 1930 ‑ 1980) focused mainly on data collection concerning the quantities produced of selected principal agricultural products (crops and livestock). The emphasis lay on commercial farming and paid labour (the formal sector) as opposed to subsistence farming and unpaid family labour (the informal sector). Data relating to human resources required for agricultural production were hardly collected and if collected they pertained more to male farmers because they were generally recorded as the head of the household or agricultural holder. Women’s involvement in agricultural production was usually perceived as domestic or reproductive work rather than economic or productive work and was therefore seldom recorded (FAO, 2005b).
Agricultural censuses carried out under the 1990 round of the programme provided more data on human resources required for agricultural production, including data on women’s contributions to agricultural production and their access to productive resources (FAO, 1995). The 2000 round of the programme further supported the collection of sex-disaggregated data by including small-scale and peri-urban agricultural activities in the sample, by addressing gender biases in statistical tools used and by taking account of the role and contribution of each member of the agricultural holding, regardless of their sex.
The ninth round of the World Programme for the Census of Agriculture (WCA 2010) covers the period from 2006 to 2015. WCA 2010 has been re-designed to address some of the constraints observed in previous rounds, such as increasing demands for data, the high costs of census taking, limited national budgets for statistics production and the complexity of many census topics. Emphasis has been placed on the use of a modular approach for agricultural censuses, consisting of a core census module and supplementary modules. The programme supports an enhanced collection of community-level data and encourages countries to explore possibilities for linking the agricultural census to their population census. The programme has also been re-directed to enable countries to use the outcomes of their agricultural census to monitor progress relating to their Millennium Development Goals, (FAO, 2005a).
The approach proposed by FAO for the 2010 round of the programme is expected to further enhance the production and use of sex-disaggregated agricultural data for a number of reasons. Firstly, the introduction of the sub-holding2 and sub-holder3 concepts allows for a better assessment of the role of household members, particularly women, in the management of the agricultural holding4. These concepts were successfully tested in a number of countries5 during WCA 2000. They allow for extensive cross-tabulation of production factors such as plot/field sizes, cultures and inputs used with socio-demographic factors, thus providing the basis for in-depth analysis of intra-household sex and age-based differences in agricultural production. Secondly, the agricultural holder6 concept has been modified to better reflect the realities of farm management practices such as differences in men’s and women’s managerial and financial control over the production, storage, processing and marketing of agricultural products. It is now recognized that more than one person, for example a husband and a wife, could manage a holding as joint holders7. Thirdly, the programme encourages countries to include items in the supplementary modules of their census that provide greater insight into the roles and responsibilities of men and women in agricultural production. Finally, employment concepts have been amended in line with standards of the International Labour Organization to better reflect the structure of employment in rural areas (FAO, 2005a).
1 Africa was selected for the development of this database because of the large number of examples available of agricultural censuses that collected gender relevant data. Even so, these can be applied or easily adapted for use in other regions.
2 A sub-holding is defined as a single agricultural activity or group of activities managed by a particular person of group of persons in the holder’s household on behalf of the agricultural holder. There may be one or more than one sub-holding in a holding. A sub-holding could comprise a single plot, a whole field, a whole parcel, or even the whole holding. A sub-holding could also be a livestock operation associated with a plot, field or parcel, or a livestock operation without any land (FAO, 2005a).
3 A sub-holder is a person responsible for managing a sub-holding on the holder’s behalf. There is only one sub-holder in a sub-holding, but there may be more than one sub-holder in a holding. The holder may or may not be a sub-holder. The sub-holder concept is broadly similar to the concepts of “plot manager” and “farm operator” used in some countries (FAO, 2005a).
4 An agricultural holding is an economic unit of agricultural production under single management comprising all livestock kept and all land used wholly or partly for agricultural production purposes, without regard to title, legal form, or size. Single management may be exercised by an individual or household, jointly by two or more individuals or households, by a clan or tribe, or by a juridical person such as a corporation, cooperative or government agency. The holding's land may consist of one or more parcels, located in one or more separate areas or in one or more territorial or administrative divisions, providing the parcels share the same production means, such as labour, farm buildings, machinery or draught animals (FAO, 2005a).
5 Countries such as Burkina Faso, Côte d'Ivoire, Guinea, Mozambique, Niger and Senegal already introduced these concepts into their latest census round.
6 The agricultural holder is defined as the civil or juridical person who makes the major decisions regarding resource use and exercises management control over the agricultural holding operation. The agricultural holder has technical and economic responsibility for the holding and may undertake all responsibilities directly, or delegate responsibilities related to day-to-day work management to a hired manager (FAO, 2005a).
7 A joint holder is a person making the major decisions regarding resource use and exercising management control over the agricultural holding operations, in conjunction with another person. A joint holder can be from within the same household or from a different household (FAO, 2005a).