Understanding how Gender relations affect accessibility of improved soybean seed among smallholder farmers in Malawi
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Therese Gondwe, Steven Cole. (10/2/2020). Understanding how Gender relations affect accessibility of improved soybean seed among smallholder farmers in Malawi.
This study aimed at understanding how gender relations influence or affect accessibility of soybean seed among smallholder famers in Malawi. The study was a case study that deployed a mixed method approach of individual semi-structured interviews and focus group discussions. A total of 457 (232 male and 225 female) household interviews and 12 (6male and 6 female) focus group discussions with smallholder farmers were conducted in Lilongwe, Mchinji and Dedza districts. Data on soybean varieties being grown and reasons for their choices, traits of those varieties, sources of influence, sources of seed planted, decision making on which variety to grow, use of revenue obtained from soybean production, quantities of soybean to sell or consume were collected and analyzed using qualitative and descriptive methods. Specifically, a gender relations approach was used to examine the differences between women and men. A key finding was that cultural restrictions, intra-household decision making processes work to the disadvantage of women, limiting many women to benefit from the improved soybean promotion. Men controlled strategic activities directly related to income and expenditure while women dominated social welfare related activities. Gender relations in terms of power over production resources have implications on farm investment decisions, including the area of total cultivated land devoted to the soybean, labor allocations to the soybean cultivation, investments in seeds and other inputs required in the production of the crop. Innovations to improve access and use of improved soybean seed must consider cultural restrictions, intra-household decision making processes and gender roles to expand the benefits of the same to women.