Global Resources

Promising Approaches to Address the Needs of Poor Female Farmers: Resources, Constraints, and Interventions

Author: A. Quisumbing, L. Pandolfelli
Publisher: International Food Policy Research Institute
Publication Date: Jan 2009
Which policy interventions have improved female farmers’ access to agricultural resources including land, soil fertility, water and credit, increasing their resilience to climate change? This paper from the International Food Policy Research Institute addresses this question, drawing on the experience of evaluated projects and reviews across sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. It highlights the positive impacts of measures such as strengthening women’s land rights through legal reform, investing in girls’ education by reducing the cost of schooling and increasing access to services such as banks, and introducing flexible procedures that facilitate women’s labour and involvement in decision-making. For example, in Malawi women farmers have been able to join a smart card biometric bank account, which means only they can withdraw money from the account. In rural Kenya NGO facilitators encouraged more women to participate in water user committee meetings, stressing the importance of their involvement. A project in Gambia established baby-friendly rest houses in the fields to allow women to breastfeed while doing agricultural work.

A key policy innovation discussed in the paper is the use of conditional cash transfers, many of them
targeted at the woman in the household, to encourage good practices in educating girls and making good
health and nutritional choices. The paper also calls for more rigorous research on successful, gender aware interventions for female farmers that can be adapted or scaled up and that can inform policy design.