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Role of women in agriculture

Role of women in agriculture

Women play a predominant role in agricultural production, representing 60% of the labour force and 73% of farmers, and producing 80% of the food crops for household consumption. Many women farmers in subsistence agriculture are not counted in the statistics of the economically-active population. Women generally have 3 or 4 plots of land of 0.2 to 0.4 ha each, which enable them to cultivate cassava year round and groundnuts, maize and vegetables seasonally. From these plots, women provide for the food needs of their households and obtain income for basic necessities. The majority of women are subsistence farmers, while men tend to be more engaged in cash crop production.

Division of Labour by Gender. More than 95% of rural women work in agriculture, compared to 63.8% of rural men. Women bear the major responsibility for agricultural production and almost total responsibility for domestic work, including water fetching, firewood gathering, food processing and preparation. Men assist women in some of the agricultural tasks, primarily land clearance and preparation, and to a lesser extent in harvesting.

A 1994 survey in two districts found that rural women spend an average of 8 to 9 hours a day in agricultural work, 3 to 4 hours in domestic work and 2 hours in fetching water and gathering firewood.

Gender Relations in Decision-making in Farming Activities. Although data is lacking on gender relations in decision-making in farming activities, a 1992 report on use of income by the Ministry of Labour and Employment indicates that men and women have responsibility for providing for their households in different ways: women's income goes primarily to feeding and clothing the family, while men's income is generally used to buy goods to improve their standard of living, for travel and for new marriages.

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