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Presentation: Factors affecting women’s participation in sweetpotato markets for vines, fresh roots and processed products in Malawi

This paper examines the commercialization of sweetpotato vines, sweet potato fresh root markets and marketing of sweet potato processed products in Malawi from a gender perspective. The purpose is to understand gender related opportunities and obstacles related to taking advantage of potential gains from commercialization of the sweet potato chain in Malawi in order to suggest ways to make market led agricultural interventions gender responsive. In total 19 FGDs were conducted,  8 with women farmers,  9 with men farmers, 2 with extension officers; and 15 Individual interviews, 9 with men Decentralised Vine Multipliers (DVMs), 3 with women vine multipliers or wives of men DVMs  and 2 with extension officers. Results show that institutional arrangements affect market activities that men and women are able to engage in. For example, institutions such as research organisations, NGOs reproduced gender norms by recruiting and training men as decentralized vine multipliers and women in local processing initiatives which shaped women and men’s involvement and participation in sweetpotato vine marketing and selling of sweet potato processed products. This finding illustrates the need to understand how institutions work in ways that have gender related consequences. Gender ideologies related to mobility also often shaped the nature of women’s participation in marketing fresh roots and processed sweet potato products while gender norms related to men as providers and money managers shaped their control of and participation in vine markets. Furthermore when participating in high income markets such as vine markets women often did not have control of the income in deference to men household heads as money managers and decision makers. Some women felt they had not benefitted as much as they could have from the project because of discriminatory gender norms which militated against their control of income. Implications of this paper on project design are that when developing interventions emphasis should not just be on increasing incomes and participation in markets but also on ensuring that men and women have control of generated income and can make decisions about how the income is used.  This may involve working with communities to change gender norms that may prevent men and women from participating and benefiting. In addition this paper also advocates for reforming of so called non-market institutions such as development intervention organisations including research organisations and NGOs to ensure that they integrate a gender perspective into development of market based interventions.

Authors: Netsayi Mudege, Putri Ernawati Abidin, Gordon Prain, Netsayi Mudege, Putri Ernawati Abidin, Gordon Prain

Contributors: Administrator, Administrator

Subjects: Value chain

Pages: 15

Publisher: International Potato Center

Publication Date: October 1, 2015

Keywords: Gender, Malawi, value chain


Mudege, N.N., Abidin, P.E. and Prain, G. 2015. Factors affecting women’s participation in sweetpotato markets for vines, fresh roots and processed products in Malawi. International Potato center (CIP).