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An understanding of the efficiency with which women farmers are operating, particularly where they account for the largest share of the labor force required for agricultural production, is essential for designing appropriate policies to improve the overall performance of agriculture as well as the livelihood of women farmers. This paper contributes to the gender productivity debate by drawing on crop production data collected in three districts (Ada, Akaki and Gimbichu) in East Shoa, Ethiopia during the 1999/2000 cropping season through detailed multi-visit surveys of 80 farm households of which 39 were female-headed households. Using the Tornqvist-Theil index, Total factor productivity (TFP) is measured to analyze crop production efficiency differentials between male and female headed households. The analysis demonstrates that there is little evidence that male-female differences per se account f or productivity differentials in crop production. The results imply that the variation in overall TFP can only arise due to differentials in access to the quality of human and physical resources and services, and differential control of the benefits from output by women versus men. Hence, appropriate institutional frameworks that reduce cultural and social barriers associated with women farmers' access to such resources and benefits should be developed. Policies targeted towards increasing female farmers' access to education, extension services, credit, adequate amount of quality land and other resources including control over the benefits, will improve the overall productivity and livelihood of female farmers.


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