Feed the Future
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Survey Considers Gender Roles Among Peanut Farmers in Mozambique

Women play a substantial role in the production and processing of peanuts in many countries of the world — so much so, that peanut is sometimes called a “woman’s crop.”

But that doesn’t mean that women have the same role in every village within a district — or even in every home within a village.

That was one of the takeaways from a recent survey of 400 households in northern Mozambique, which will help show what farming practices have the most significant impact on a farmer’s quality of life. Many questions involve details closely related to agriculture, but others delve into family dynamic and household possessions.

Former PMIL intern Emily Urban assists a local enumerator interviewing farmers in northern Mozambique in summer 2016. The survey results will help show which farming practices impact peanut producers’ overall operations and quality of life the most. Photo: J.L. Jelliffe.

Emily Urban, who interned with the Peanut & Mycotoxin Innovation Lab while completing her master’s degree at the University of Georgia, helped craft questions about gender roles and assisted local enumerators as they traveled from village to village in northern Mozambique last month. The work helped her complete a Graduate International Agriculture Certificate through UGA’s College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.

“I’m really looking forward to digging into the data,” said Urban. “We asked a lot of questions on how women spend their time and who is making household and production decisions. Essentially, we are trying to understand gender dynamics.”

As an undergraduate student at Pennsylvania State University, Urban thought she might become an agriculture teacher and even student taught for a term, but she ultimately decided to go to graduate school to prepare for a career in international development.

Working toward that graduate degree, she traveled to Brazil to immerse herself in Portuguese and began to work with PMIL, which works with partners in five countries, mostly in Africa. The survey work in Mozambique, where Portuguese is the national language, seemed like a great opportunity to put together what she had learned.

The Southern Africa Pre-harvest Value Chain Analysis, which is led by University of Connecticut professor Boris Bravo-Ureta, is assessing productivity and profitability of peanut production in three countries. The data collection in the Nampula and Cabo Delgado areas of Mozambique started at the beginning of June.

First, the team drafted the questionnaire and translated it into Portuguese. Working with an expert from the U.S. Agency for International Development, Urban helped to draft the questions related to gender.

Lead researcher Boris Bravo-Ureta (center) speaks with Amade Muitia of the Mozambique Agriculture Research Institute (back to the camera). Former PMIL intern Emily Urban and local enumerators working on a survey project in northern Mozambique in summer 2016. Photo: J.L. Jelliffe.

The enumerator team was made up of five men and three women, an important balance to make sure that responses weren’t influenced by the gender of the person asking the questions.

“We wanted to be very aware of the dynamics of who is interviewing who,” Urban said.

Assisted by PMIL collaborators at the Instituto de Investigação Agrária de Moçambique (IIAM) and local extension agents, the team conducted three weeks of interviews, moving from one district to another every four days and visiting 400 households. Urban then returned to Nampula for three weeks of data coding while living with the family of a member of the enumerator team. There she had a chance to further improve her language skills and experience a bit of the daily life in Mozambique.

The results are still being analyzed, but some interesting themes already stand out. Among the most repeated responses: Most people reported that they eat peanuts every day. “It is an important protein source for these people who have very little meat in their diets,” Urban said.

A PMIL research project in Mozambique will, in part, assess the roles and responsibilities women have in peanut production. Already researchers are finding that those roles are different from village to village and home to home. Photo: J.L. Jelliffe.

Overall, the survey showed that women have different roles in the production of peanuts in different villages. In some communities, women are wholly responsible for peanut production — from planting to harvesting to drying — while men are in charge of marketing. In other places, men work alongside women in the field and make some of the production decisions.

Urban noted that recognizing that diversity is important, since any training or other interventions that develop from the survey results must take into consideration the audience.

With a master’s degree in Agricultural and Environmental Education now complete, Urban plans to get a job and return to complete a Ph.D. one day. She also hopes to publish the results from the gender-based questions of the survey.