Feed the Future
This project is part of the U.S. Government's global hunger and food security initiative.

Leveraging Gender Norms and Private Sector Partnerships to Increase Women’s Use of Agricultural Inputs

The Feed the Future Mozambique Agricultural Innovations Activity (Feed the Future Inova) is an example of applying information about gendered decision-making and norms to increase women’s access to technology.

In Mozambique’s agricultural sector, the use of improved agricultural inputs is low. The Feed the Future Inova baseline found that 10.3 percent of commercial farmers use pesticides, 12 percent use fertilizer, and 16.9 percent use improved seeds. Female participation in low-productivity agriculture in Mozambique is especially high. Eighty-two (82) percent of women in Mozambique’s labor force work in the agricultural sector, compared with 61 percent of men.

Feed the Future Inova conducted a study to understand how households make decisions on agricultural production, particularly regarding what inputs are purchased and used, what agents and information sources play an influencing role, and what social norms influence these decisions. Feed the Future Inova hypothesized that by understanding the norms at play, the team could advise private sector partners on how to better include women in their business and distribution models. The methodology and findings from this study are available on the Development Experience Clearinghouse.

The study found that female farmers represent an untapped opportunity for input suppliers

  • Women are an integral part of household decision making on input purchase and use.
  • Women are potential customers in their own right, with access to and control over their own plots.
  • Women are often more aware of farm needs given their roles in farming, harvesting, and processing.
  • Women are more limited in mobility but are more loyal customers (based on convenience).
  • Women rely more on their trust in the vendor for advice on brand selection and application.
  • Women are increasingly getting jobs as agro-retailers/agents and extension workers and are seen as hard-working and trustworthy workers and distribution agents.

Based on the research findings, the team decided to pilot activities in two areas. The first focused on making input firms’ distribution and marketing practices more gender sensitive, starting with the adoption of sex-disaggregated client relationship management systems that would enable firms to understand the gender split and behavior of their customers more effectively. The team also encouraged input firms to test more female-oriented marketing practices, such as featuring more women in their marketing materials and female farmer testimonials in radio ads as well as training retail staff on how to better engage potential female customers. The second area focused on firms’ distribution practices and more effectively reaching women directly on their farms. Feed the Future Inova has been working with several firms to set up a village-based agro-agent network and adopt other effective last mile distribution practices such as mobile input shops.

The Feed the Future Inova team is also organizing a workshop for partners to share their experience in testing these approaches with the wider inputs sector. Feed the Future Inova is also adapting the findings to be more accessible to the private sector, especially input suppliers and distributors. Below are some of the mockups for the guides currently in development.

For more information, please contact Chief of Party Luca Crudeli (Luca_Crudeli@ftf-inova.com) or Contracting Officer’s Representative Elsa Mapilele (emapilele@usaid.gov).