Women access to land and its effect on their smallscale agricultural productivity: a case study of maize production in Machakos District, Kenya
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Women in most rural communities in Africa dominate farm activities in terms of labour supply and management. Overall, Africa's performance in terms of agricultural production and productivity remain inadequate and the region has failed to make progress in food security (Republic of Kenya, 2002). Therefore, successful agricultural reform programs will require raising women's productivity. The current study examines the existence of real evidence that women's limited access to land constitute a significant barrier to agricultural improvement. This study examines the relationships between the amount of agricultural land accessible to women of different marital status, women's tenure security and agricultural productivity. The study was carried out in central division, Machakos District, Kenya. A sample of 100 women farmers was interviewed about their access to land and their tenure security, their agricultural production, access to extension, level of decision making and level of education. The study involved descriptive analysis, using percentages, cross tabulations, correlation coefficients, chi-square and graphs to show the nature and the influence of these variables. A regression analysis was used to establish the relationship between various important variables. The results established that the main factors that determine women's agricultural productivity are: level of education, land tenure security, level of decision making and the total production costs. The study also established that women access to land is influenced by land tenure security, total area of land owned by the household and the household size. The study showed that different categories of women face different problems in their agricultural activities, widows being the most disadvantaged. Based on these findings, several policy recommendations are made, including the fact that all stakeholders be involved in providing a comprehensive tenure reform that considers women of different marital status among others.