Title: Inclusion of women farmers in conservation agriculture in Malawi

Final project
Year of publication:
Conservation agriculture, gender division of work, Malawi agriculture, sustainable land management


Conservation agriculture (CA) is one of the land restoration activities currently being implemented in Malawi. It has been proven to have many benefits including increased soil fertility. Even so, adoption is low, especially among women who play an important role in agricultural activities in Malawi. Therefore, engaging more women is an opportunity to upscale CA. This study aims at understanding the relationship between women farmers’ needs and successful adoption of conservation agriculture. It is always important to understand the needs of women in upscaling any agricultural technology. This is done with the assumption that understanding of these needs could potentially lead to upscaling of the technology or practice. Qualitative research methods were used to collect data. Focus group discussions with women farmers and key informant interviews were conducted in the Mwansambo extension planning area in central Malawi. In this area, CA activities have been promoted and practiced for over 10 years. Women are currently playing a key role in the upscaling of conservation agriculture and constitute the majority of participants. The labour burden together with limited access to inputs and land are the major challenges that women in the area face in CA adoption. Participants agreed that women were responsible for all domestic work, but key informants and women farmers had different opinions on how farm work is divided between men and women. Despite contributing much labour in farming, women have little or no power over decisions made concerning the land and selling of products after harvest. Even though women appreciate the benefits of CA for soil fertility and lessening their farm work, adoption among women is challenged by prevailing gender ideas that give all decision-making power to men as the household heads. With more gender sensitive approaches in promotion of conservation agriculture, women could play a key role in upscaling of the practice.

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