Posted June 1996
| El Salvador
Fact sheet: Women, Agriculture and Rural Development
United Republic of Tanzania
Population: 26 million
Growth rate: 3.0%
Fertility rate: 6.3
IMR: 115/1,000 births
GNP/head: US$110 (mainland)
Source: "World Bank Atlas", 1994
Importance of agriculture in the economy
Agriculture is the predominant sector of the Tanzanian economy. In 1992
it contributed 62% of the GDP and employed 79.8% of the labour force. The
major cash crops produced by subsistence farmers are coffee (20.3% of export
earnings), cotton (18.7% of export earnings), tobacco and cashew nuts. Sisal
and tea are grown on large estates. Farmers have also been encouraged to
produce essential food crops, especially cassava and maize. Subsistence
farmers produce a large proportion of the agricultural output, which accounts
for 75% of agricultural export earnings and 80% of grain marketing. One
of the major economic objectives of Tanzania is to increase self-sufficiency
Role of women in agriculture
ILO estimates that in the mid-1980s women comprised 54% of those economically
active in agriculture. Approximately 98% of rural women classified as economically
active are engaged in agriculture. Women farmers also contribute substantially
to both commercial and subsistence agriculture, including livestock and
fishing, as casual labourers and unpaid family workers.
Division of Labour by Gender
Women carry the major responsibility for
both subsistence agriculture, especially food crop production, and domestic
work. Time use studies consistently show that women spend more hours per
day than men in both productive and reproductive activities. Traditionally,
women are responsible for almost all livestock activities of dairy husbandry
(feeding, milking, milk processing, marketing, etc.). In addition, a 1992
labour force survey in Zanzibar showed that women comprise 74% of the labour
force in agro-enterprises. In Zanzibar, women also predominate in on-shore
fisheries, while men perform almost all the work in off-shore fisheries
except for some cleaning and processing.
In crop production, both men and women participate fairly equally in site
clearance, land preparation, sowing and planting, while women carry out
most of the weeding, harvesting, transportation, threshing, processing and
storage activities. Women are also responsible for food preparation, fetching
water and gathering firewood. Gender Relations in Decision-making in Farming
Decision-making at the household level continues to be male-dominated in
all farming-related activities, even in those where women contribute the
majority of the labour. However, joint decision-making is commonplace.
Sharing of power and decisionmaking
Members and Officers of Agricultural/Rural Organizations
There is a lack of data on women's participation in agricultural and rural
organizations. Information from Zanzibar, however, indicates a gradual increase
in women members of Cooperative Agricultural Organizations, from 30% in
1980 to 44% in 1993.
Women in Decision-making Positions in Ministries and Government Bodies
Women hold only a small percentage of decision-making positions in ministries
and government bodies and are particularly under represented in the Ministry
of Agriculture and Livestock Development.
Mechanisms to promote the advancement of women
The Department for Women and Children was established in 1985 in the Ministry
of Community Development, Women and Children, on the Mainland, with the
mandate to coordinate and monitor the implementation of the Women and Development
Policy, specifically addressing: ways and means of reducing women's workloads,
improving their health and increasing productivity; promoting education
and training; identifying strategies for women's economic empowerment; advocating
the development of gender-sensitive statistics; and ensuring that women's
experiences and concerns are more fully integrated into the planning process
and that adequate resources are allocated for such issues.
The Ministry of State for Women and Children was established in 1992
in the President's Office, Zanzibar.
WID Units or Focal Points in Technical Ministries
The Union Government Ministry of Agriculture WID Focal Point was established
in 1985, with the mandate to: liaise with regional focal points and other
agencies responsible for women in rural development; participate in training
rural women in agricultural credit and enhancing their entrepreneurial capacities;
collaborate with other interested institutions in organizing village-based
seminars for women's groups; ensure female participation in and benefit
from national extension programmes; and encourage female leadership in agricultural
The Zanzibar Ministry of Agriculture, Unit for Women and Youth, Office
of the Commissioner for Research and Farmers Education, was established
in 1992 with the mandate to: promote women's and youth agricultural, livestock,
fishing and forestry activities; encourage formation of women's and youth
groups; impart nutrition eduction to women so as to eliminate malnutrition
among children; raise the economic status of women and youth; and ensure
equitable distribution of income based on one's labour contribution.
Accomplishments of the WID Units
While some gender-sensitivity training programmes have been carried out,
the main focus has been on activities in the areas of irrigation, food productivity,
nutrition, dairy production, and support of credit mobilization, agricultural
extension, animal traction and oil processing.
Inadequate personnel and finances to carry out substantive analysis and
action on agriculture-oriented gender issues; a top-down planning and administrative
approach which does not promote innovative initiatives at the grassroots;
and heavy dependence on donor funding.
Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs)
Since 1985, both local and international NGOs have increased support to
rural women in agriculture, due especially to the formation of WID Units
at NGO headquarters and an increase in community based organizations (CBOs).
Under the Tanzania Non-Governmental Organization Umbrella (TANGO), many
local NGOs are addressing agriculture, livestock and environmental issues,
and a growing number are also emphasizing women's empowerment. Grassroots
women's groups are also increasing. For example, in Same District Kilimanjaro
Region, between 1980 and 1993, 43 women's groups in agriculture and horticulture
were formed, 8 in livestock and poultry, 8 in bee-keeping, 4 in fishing
and 10 milling groups.
Tanzania is a signatory to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms
of Discrimination Against Women. Women's civil rights are limited by the
existence of a dual legal system which includes both statutory and religious
and customary laws. In addition, the 1971 Marriage Act includes discriminatory
provisions in respect to women's property and inheritance rights.
Dimensions and determinants of rural poverty
Structural adjustment programmes have forced many households to adopt
survival strategies, with detrimental effects on women. Removal of government
subsidies for agricultural inputs and food stuffs, dismantling of state-controlled
marketing systems, reduction of public investment in extension services
and credit, and rising interest rates of bank credit are affecting poor
women farmers in particular.
Intensive exploitation of natural resources aimed at increased
supply of primary export commodities and incomes has led to soil erosion,
deforestation and increased threat of desertification. There is a heavy
dependence on fuel wood energy in the absence of better alternative energy
Pressure to grow cash crops is diverting labour and land away
from food crops and forcing poor households to sell part of their food reserves.
Fall in prices of traditional export crops is affecting the food sector
in particular and attracting males to commercial food crops such as maize,
beans, horticulture and dairy products, traditionally controlled by women.
Food imbalances are estimated to have affected 40% of the population.
28.7% of the population is chronically food insecure as landholdings are
too small to provide sufficient food for subsistence. More than 25% of the
population suffers from protein energy malnutrition, 32% from nutritional
anaemia, 6.1% from Vitamin A deficiency, and 25% from iodine deficiency.
Women and girls suffer more as they tend to eat less in times of food shortage.
The rising cost of living and raised production costs has increased
women's workload. Female-headed households, which are generally associated
with increased labour constraints, simpler farming systems, inadequate services
and meagre incomes, are increasing.
Access to agricultural resources and services
There is a great disparity between women and men in the size of landholdings,
as well as an overall trend of increasing landlessness and decreasing size
of holdings due to population pressure. About 84% of the land is cultivated
by human labour, which limits the amount that can be cultivated.
Livestock. Data collection needed.
Forestry. Data collection needed.
Water. Data collection needed.
In 1992, women comprised only 15% of the total membership of formal rural
savings and credit associations. Women's access to formal financing is limited
by the small size of their agricultural enterprises, high rate of illiteracy,
predominance in the subsistence sector, and lack of land as collateral.
Women's access to loans has tended to be confined to donor-supported special
Extension services and agricultural training
Data collection is needed on the numbers of women farmers reached by extension.
Selected programmes in support of women in agriculture, fisheries and
Legal and Policy Reform
- Establishment of the Law Reform Commission in 1983 which, however, has
yet to address the inequalities in succession and inheritance rights.
- Formation of Land Reform Commission which has noted gender inequality
in land rights.
- Government legal literacy radio programmes.
- NGO initiatives, including Legal Aid Clinics, legal literacy campaigns
and para-legal training.
Access to Agricultural Resources and Services
Many Ministry of Agriculture and donor-funded projects are directed, or
have a component, to increase women's access to agricultural resources and
services, including animal traction, irrigation, extension, small livestock,
and small credit schemes.
Areas to be strengthened
- The establishment of a strong WID Unit in the Ministry of Agriculture,
capable of carrying out substantive analysis and action on gender issues
- Clear policies and strategies on the promotion of women's advancement
- Gender-disaggregated data and base-line information on women's contribution
- Increased research on gender issues in agriculture.
- Increased gender-sensitization programmes for policy-makers.
- Reorientation of agricultural extension policies towards greater gender
sensitivity and the constraints of small farmers.
Legal and Policy Reform
Redress inequality in land rights.
Access to Agricultural Resources and Services
Efforts should be made to increase women's access to: appropriate technology
to reduce workload, extension and training, improved water supply, alternative
energy sources, irrigation, credit, agricultural inputs, and cooperatives
and rural associations.
Prepared by Women in Development Service (SDWW)
FAO Women and Population Division
Source: "National Sectoral Report on Women, Agriculture and Rural