Essays on Smallholder Avocado Contract Farming, Gender Patterns in Labor Allocation and the Effect of Women’s Empowerment in Agriculture on Food Security in Kenya
Edna, Gardie J
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Avocado has been identified as one of the non-traditional export crops with national and global economic importance in Kenya. Production of the fruit predominantly depends on intra-household division of labor in which gender is the fulcrum around which these divisions occur. Commercialization of avocado through contract farming is a viable way of improving food security and the welfare of majority of smallholders involved in its production in the country. Using data from Central, Western and Eastern Kenya, this thesis investigates smallholder avocado contract farming including determinants and differentials in production and gender patterns in labor allocation. The study further analyzes the effect of women’s empowerment on food security. In essay one; we investigate the determinants of avocado contract farming as well as the differentials in production outcomes between contract and non-contract farmers. The probit model was used to estimate contract participation while the Oaxaca-Blinder decomposition was used to analyze the gap in quality and quantities of avocados harvested and sold by contract and non-contract farmers. Study findings show that the number of Hass trees owned, value of assets, hired labor, receiving training in avocado agronomy as well as access to production and marketing information significantly influence participation in avocado contract farming. Gap in production outcomes between participants and non-participants in avocado contract farming is due to both endowment and returns to endowments effects. Our study findings suggest that stimulating smallholder contract farming and closing observed gap in avocado production and marketing require policies that will facilitate training of farmers in good agricultural practices and other support services. Essay two sought to analyze gender patterns in labor allocation to avocado production and other economic activities as well as the role of avocado contract farming on gender labor allocation. Separate regressions were estimated for males and females using the double hurdle and tobit models. Findings show that exogenous factors such as education, the presence of young children, credit constraints, assets and non-labor income have heterogeneous effects on gendered labor allocation to avocado production. Results further show that while avocado commercialization through contract farming has to some extent altered traditional gender roles in farming, there is still limited participation of women in avocado marketing under contract farming. Hence, interventions aimed at enhancing smallholder avocado production should incorporate mechanisms that will enable women participate at all levels of the avocado value chain. The objective in essay three was to assess the effect of women’s empowerment on food security. Food security in this thesis was proxied by the Household Food Insecurity Access Scale (HFIAS). Food security was operationalized as an index using Principle Component Analysis (PCA) and as categories using the Household Food Insecurity Access Prevalence (HFIAP). The Abbreviated Women’s Empowerment in Agriculture Index (A-WEAI) was used as a women’s empowerment measure. The effect of WEAI on food security index was analyzed using fractional probit two-stage residual inclusion and control function approaches that controlled for endogeneity, individual heterogeneity and non-linearity of the women’s empowerment variable. Instrumental variable ordered probit was used to analyze the effect of A-WEAI on food security categories. Findings show that women’s empowerment in decision making on production and asset ownership significantly lowered household food insecurity; and that failure to control for potential endogeneity and non-linearity of the women’s empowerment variable produces erroneous results of its effect on food security. The findings imply that creating awareness on the role of women in production decision making and implementing gender inclusive policies that will enable women participate in policy-making at all levels on issues that affect their lives is a necessary step in ensuring food security. Moreover, national and traditional reforms that would enable women own and control productive assets are worthwhile interventions that would yield long-term dividend in food security.
University of Nairobi
RightsAttribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 United States
- School of Economics 
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