EPAR Research Brief #38
Mon, 06/01/2009
Katie Hampton
Jessica Henson Cagley
Marieka Klawitter

In Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), maize alone provides an estimated one third of the mean caloric intake and in 2006, accounted for 21% of all harvested food crops, making it the single most important food crop in the region. In addition, maize is also used as feedgrain and fodder, adding to its importance in integrated smallholder farming systems in SSA. In general, women are the main producers of staple crops such as maize. Understanding the gender dimensions of maize is particularly challenging because maize is used as both a subsistence and cash crop, and may be considered either a male or female crop depending on farmer circumstances and how the particular variety is promoted. This brief provides an overview of the role of women in maize production, and provides a framework for analyzing barriers to women and technology’s impact on women throughout the cropping cycle. We find that lower access to factors such as extension access, education level, land, and labor contribute to female’s lower rate of maize technology adoption. Understanding women’s disproportionate access to resources and how improved technology may change allocation of resources should help project developers improve both women’s and men’s productivity.

This brief is part of a series of literature reviews exploring gender implications of improved cropping technology in Sub-Saharan Africa. Each crop-specific paper explores the role of women in production, and provides a framework for analyzing technology’s impact on women throughout the cropping cycle. Click the links below to explore the other briefs in this series.

Type of Research: 
Research Brief
Research Topic Category: 
Sustainable Agriculture & Rural Livelihoods
Agricultural Inputs & Farm Management
Market & Value Chain Analysis
Labor & Time Use
Technology Adoption
Geographic focus: 
Sub-Saharan Africa

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