Is quinoa on your diet? Are you tempted by the exotic scent of cardamom in your local tea shop? Any idea where the tender beans on your plate come from, and how they are produced?
The demand for new agricultural products with specific nutritional characteristics and year-round availability has constantly been on the rise in recent years – and so has their price. These market dynamics have a profound effect on the places where such products are grown. In many cases, these are rural areas in developing countries where agriculture is the main economic sector. Accordingly, high-value crops hold the promise of stimulating rural development in the global South: employment is expected to lift poor people – and women in particular – out of their multiple dependencies on small-scale agricultural production, offering them and their children new perspectives.
Agriculture transition and women’s decision-making power in coffee farming households in Lao PDR
FATE authors Douangphachanh et al. have released their new publication “Agriculture transition and women’s decision-making power in coffee farming households in Lao PDR”. Based on a mixed approach, combining qualitative and quantitative data on decision-making at the household level, the authors examine whether the economic liberalisation and commercialization of agricultural production over the last decades has led to changes in women farmers’ decision-making power in the coffee growing region in southern Lao PDR.
Their research reveals that the economic liberalisation and transition of agriculture, upon which Lao PDR has embarked in the context of the New Economic Mechanism (NEM) in 1986, brought about economic growth and provided better livelihoods for coffee farmers. However, while the study finds that since the NEM, women have become more engaged in decision-making, it also reveals that men still retain more decision-making power in the household. This study thus illustrates that economic growth does not necessarily translate to women’s empowerment and gender equality and suggests that there is still a need for specific policy interventions.