Influence Of Gender Disparity On Agricultural Production Among Smallholder Farmers In Cheptais Division Mt. Elgon District, Kenya
The inequality between women and men is seen both as a human and people –centered factor that hinder development. This study sought to find out how gender disparity influence smallholder agricultural production in Cheptais division of Mt Elgon district. According to the study, gender disparity is the discrimination or differential treatment based on gender and in most developing countries the discrimination tends to favor men at the expense of women, who are often a crucial resource in agriculture and the rural economy. Involvement of both women and the youth in agriculture and the benefits they derive from it has been shroud in gender stereotypes that propagate male dominance. A number of development programs with a broad goal of empowering the community hardly take into consideration gender dynamics in their development programs. This trend is observed in policies, strategies and plans guiding development work. The overall development of a nation calls for maximum participation of both men and women. Gender inequality exacerbates food insecurity, malnutrition and poverty. The proportion of women in Kenya accounts for 51% of the population while the rest are men. This means that of the total potential human resource available for utilization in national development, women form more than half. The objectives of the study included: to investigate the extent to which gender disparity on access to and control of productive resources influence agricultural production among smallholder farmers, to establish the level at which gender disparity on access to extension services influence agricultural productivity and to identify strategies to address gender disparity to influence smallholder agricultural productivity. The study answered the following research questions: To what extend does gender disparity on access and control of productive resources influence smallholder agricultural production? What level of gender disparity on access to extension services influence smallholder agricultural productivity? Are there strategies that can be used to address gender disparity to influence smallholder agricultural productivity? The study utilized descriptive study design that involved administration of questionnaire and interviews to a sample of 361 respondents drawn from a population of approximately 6000. Clustered sampling method was used to select respondents and data was analyzed using Statistical Package for Social Scientist (SPSS). The findings of this study indicated that women had more access to agricultural resources but male had control and decision making authority on the resources with only 41(11.4%) of the female out of the 361 respondents interviewed having control over land. Control over resources positively influence productivity and women who had access to resources showing to be more effective in productivity as compared to male. The study also found that women had more access to credit as compared to men due to the fact that women were more involved in VSLAs that advance credit to members. The study made the following conclusions; control over income from the farm and ability to access extension service had the greatest effect on land productivity as compared to having authority on how land is used and that capacity development programmes for advocacy purposes could reduce the effect of gender disparity on smallholder agricultural productivity. This study recommends that gender experts together with all those with information on gender mainstreaming in agricultural productivity should engage other stakeholders in sensitization and capacity development efforts. Also recommended is adoption of gender sensitive curriculum that accommodate women and consider their work load by extension providers. Further research should be carried out to analyze the factors promoting gender disparity in access and control of productive resources. Another research should be undertaken to determine the role played by extension services in reducing gender disparity in smallholder agricultural production.