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Abstract

Gladwin's * * main contention is that women provide most of the agricultural labor in sub-Saharan Africa and because much of this labor is oriented to food production for home consumption, the effects of structural adjustment programs on them and the children they work to feed are likely to be different than on men who produce crops for commercial and export production. Her specific hypothesis for Malawi is that the removal of the fertilizer subsidy affects women farmers more than men farmers because it reduces fertilizer use on local maize. As part of the structural adjustment program, a major purpose of removing the fertilizer subsidy is to reallocate resources from food production for domestic consumption to cash crop production for export. In Gladwin's analysis, men farmers produce hybrid maize and tobacco for export and women produce the subsistence food crop, local maize. Gladwin's main contention is probably correct. For the Malawi case, the presentation does not support the hypothesis because two of the major underlying assumptions are inappropriate and the evidence provided is inconclusive. This comment proceeds by discussing the two assumptions and corresponding evidence. The purpose of this comment is not to contradict the hypothesis, but to clarify the Malawi situation and to suggest that a different analytical approach is needed in that context.

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