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border.gif (1K) Baseline survey:
Decline in agricultural production

Decrease in crop/livestock production
Affected households cultivate less land, decrease their crop diversity and use less agricultural inputs.

Decrease in labour availability and productivity
result in increasing workloads for able-bodied household members (e.g. use of child labour) and changing gender roles.

For instance:
Female-headed households in Zambia, and in particular those taking care of orphans, experience greater labour shortages compared to male-headed households. This is because they have less family members in the economically active age category compared to male-headed households. Moreover, they have little resources to hire labour. This situation is exacerbated by the fact that these households have a higher proportion of elderly members, thus implying that increasingly more grand-mothers are heading the households and taking care of orphans. Also, female-headed households with orphans have relatively fewer productive assets such as land (about 30% less than other households), ploughs, ox charts, cattle, goats and chickens. Consequently, female-headed households cultivate only 0,59 ha per economically active household member compared to 0,72 ha in male-headed households and households without orphans.

In Namibia affected households were more subject to reduction in their number of cattle, compared to the non-affected households. 89% of widow-headed households reported to have experienced a sharp decline in cattle. They lost in average 6 cattle as a result of distress sale and property grabbing. In agricultural production labour constraints were mostly felt in weeding and ploughing, in particular for families headed by women. They were also to a greater extent depending upon hand-hoe alone and less on draught power for land preparations.

Figure Uganda: Cash vs. food crops - % change in cultivation of cash and food crops in affected households (1996-2001)
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Many countries are in the process of shifting from subsistence to commercial agriculture. From the FAO survey, it appears that non-affected households are better able to respond to these development initiatives than affected households. In Uganda affected families reduce the overall cultivation of labour-intensive food crops as a result of labour constraints, thus leaving more land fallow. On the contrary, non-affected families are better equipped to respond to the Plan for Modernisation of Agriculture and gradually shift from cultivating subsistence crops to cash crops, and have increased the area cultivated by maize (cash-crop), for which there is a ready market.

Decrease in extension services
HIV/AIDS is also having an impact on the provision of government services, in particular extension services. Due to illness and death among both farmers and extension staff, the quality and number of messages and training sessions are being reduced.

Decrease in inter-generational transfer of knowledge
The IP surveys showed that indigenous knowledge of local agro-ecology and farming practices is being lost.

One of the most pertinent areas of knowledge-loss in Namibia was in forecasting of rainfall and rotational cropping. In the long-term, agriculture production will be affected by loss of knowledge related to the good management and treatment of crop pests. Knowledge and practice of traditional storage methods is in decline as well.

In Uganda, limited new knowledge is being sought by affected households due to loss of confidence in the future. Their planning perspective is focused on the short-term. Affected household members are participating less and less in agriculture-related seminars due to ill health, hence not gaining new knowledge on modern farming methods. There is increasing inability of fisher-folk to predict seasons and times of safety on the lake. This has resulted in more accidents. The death of 4 extension workers in 4 years in the survey community demonstrated the problem fisher-folk confront in accessing extension knowledge.

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Updated September 2003

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