International Day for Rural Women 2023

Lentil Commercialization in Ethiopia
through the Lens of Gender Equity
The commercialization of cash crops has long been hailed as a pathway to economic development and improved livelihoods in low- and middle-income countries but is known not to benefit women and men equally.

A new study funded by CGIAR’s Sustainable Intensification of Mixed Farming Initiative examines why understanding gender norms, relations, and equity dynamics is critical to ensure that crop commercialization helps to close, not widen, the gender gap.

The gendered categorization of crops has long shaped agricultural norms and relations in many resource-poor rural economies. Men farmers in these communities tasked with generating income focus on “men’s crops” – cash crops that bring high yields and have market qualities and, as a result, have priority access to the best seeds, soil, inputs, labor, and machinery on the farm. “Women’s crops,” on the other hand, are often considered subsistence crops, cultivated mainly for home and considered secondary. This results in women cultivating them in marginal soils with little or no access to inputs and being tasked with the intensive labor needed to ensure their healthy growth, such as weeding.  Whilst the reality is more complex – for example, women may contribute to the labor of “men’s crops,” especially as prices rise – what is critical is that these gendered differences are addressed when a “women’s crop” undergoes extensive commercialization, so women do not miss out.
The study shows that by understanding the complex interplay of gender norms, relations, and commercialization, policymakers, and stakeholders can design interventions that empower women and ensure their meaningful participation in the market-oriented production of cash crops. ICARDA is engaged in the same community to challenge norms around women’s participation in income-generating opportunities under SAPLING and SI Initiatives.
For more information you can visit their website.