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Gendered impacts of agricultural subsidies in Zambia

Machina, Henry and Ngoma, Hambulo and Kuteya, Aukland (2017): Gendered impacts of agricultural subsidies in Zambia.

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Governments in Sub-Saharan Africa have been implementing agricultural subsidy programs aimed to raise productivity and promote household food security, among other things. Despite positing some gains in raising productivity, subsidies through the conventional or traditional Farmer Input Support Program (FISP) have been found to crowd out demand for commercial fertilizer. This paper asks if subsidies can reduce the gendered productivity gaps in agriculture. Applying panel data methods to the two-wave Rural Agricultural Livelihoods Surveys data collected in 2012 and 2015, the study found that male-managed plots had an average 34 kg/ha yield advantage over female-managed plots, suggesting gendered productivity gaps. The main empirical results suggest that access to FISP does not disproportionately raise crop productivity for female-managed plots. Thus, FISP is insufficient to address the male-female productivity gaps. While improving access to productive inputs for women is important to address gender productivity gaps, this will need to be complemented with deliberate measures to address the social-cultural norms that tip the balance of power dynamics, rights and entitlements towards men.

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