By Mildred Barungi

mildred barungi

As Uganda joins the rest of the world to celebrate the 2018 international Women’s day under the theme “press for progress”, there is a strong call-to-action to press forward to gender inclusiveness in access to factors of agricultural production.

Agriculture can be an important engine of growth and poverty reduction. But the sector is underperforming in Uganda in part because women face constraints that reduce their productivity.

Although more women (82 percent) than men (66 percent) are engaged in agricultural production, they control less than 20 percent of the outputs.

Usually men dominate ownership and control of land, the primary factor of agricultural production. Commonly, women have indirect access to land in terms of use rights acquired through kinship relationships and their status as wives, mothers, sisters, or daughters.

Only about 25 percent females have individual owner rights over land parcel holdings compared to their male counterparts who stand at 32 per cent.

It should be noted that the agricultural sector strategic plan intends to promote commercialization of prioritised agricultural commodities, especially among smallholder farmers given that most of them (about 69 percent) are still stuck in subsistence production.

However, this plan might not see the light of day without addressing gender disparity in access to land. Women need to have secure land tenure so they can invest in sustainable agriculture production without fear of being cheated or evicted.

Further, there is gender disparity in access to credit in favour of men. The percentage of females who seek and obtain credit for agricultural purposes (11.5 percent) is much smaller than that of their male counterparts (15.3 percent).

Therefore, there is a strong call-to-action to increase credit availability and affordability to all Ugandans but more so for women. This will help to relax the cash constraint that frequently impedes investment in agricultural productivity-enhancing technologies.

Although access to extension services is generally still limited, it is lowest among females. Increasing access to extension overall but more so for women is bound to lead to increased adoption of improved technologies in agriculture.

Currently, disproportionately fewer women than men access and use seeds of improved crop varieties, fertilisers, herbicides, and pesticides, among other recommended technologies for sustainable agriculture.

Thus, attaining gender parity in access to factors of agricultural production remains of paramount importance and is expected to ensure that women benefit from their labour and enhance their contribution towards inclusive economic growth and poverty reduction.

The author is a research fellow at Economic Policy Research Centre (EPRC).