Addressing food security in Africa via multiple livelihood strategies of women farmers

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Elsevier Science


Because food insecurity is primarily a problem of low household incomes and poverty, and not just inadequate food production, projects and programs for food-insecure African farmers which aim at increasing production of subsistence crops may be ineffective. Instead, government should look for ways to improve returns to farmers' resources in a broader context, which may include expanded opportunities for non-farm microenterprises and agricultural labor. This has been the conventional wisdom since the writings of Amartya Sen. Still unclear, however, are the implications of his thinking for the roles of African women farmers who are traditionally the food-crop producers in Africa and are often food insecure. Immediate expansion of income-earning activities such as cash cropping and non-farm microenterprises may not be possible for women in male headed households in many African societies where cash income is seen as part of the male domain. In addition, women farmers may need a long adjustment period to diversify their income sources fully because most African countries are at the early stages of structural transformation. Different developmental interventions, both in policy and in technology, are therefore needed to address food security and economic transformations in Africa in the short and long term. --Publisher/Author's abstract


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Income diversification, Food security, Livelihoods, Women, Gender, Ecosystem


Food Policy 26(2): 177-207