Market participation and its effect on employment and food access within households of smallholder women farmers in Rwanda

Chantal Ingabire, November 2019, Egerton University, Kenya

In Rwanda, transformation efforts have been focused on increasing smallholder farmers’ participation in agricultural markets, with a purpose to shift them from subsistence to market-orientation. This study contributes to the existing knowledge by examining how smallholder households and women in particular, integrate in the current marketing system while determining the drivers of output market participation as well as its effect on food access and on-farm employment.

Photo: S. Bieri

The study’s contribution is three-fold. First, it provides empirical evidence on the relationship between output market participation and food access and on-farm employment. Second, the study highlights gender issues as well as women’s social and economic conditions that require attention to increase smallholder households’ participation in output market. Finally, the design of this study allowed to provide some knowledge on two under-researched topics; on-farm employment and experience of women as individual farmers in the on-going agricultural transformation.

It used a mixed method approach with a quantitative survey on respectively 211 and 178 beans and potato producing households, 7 focus group discussions and 10 key informant interviews, under a sequential explanatory design. Double Hurdle model, Logit models and Inverse Probability Weighting estimator with Regression Adjustment (IPWRA) as well as the qualitative thematic analysis were used.

Results showed that 56% of the total sample has participated in output markets while 34.7% were market oriented. Based on the Household Commercialisation Index (HCI), the average participation was higher among potato producers (80% versus 34% for beans). Landholding and income, proximity to all-weather roads, women’s education, group membership, possession of mobile phone and women participation in decisions on quantity sold, determined the output market participation. Women’s low participation in the marketing system, limited control over income and their increased workload, were the primal hindrances to households’ market participation. Households with high degree of market participation had higher likelihood to be in better category of food access. Women’s participation in decisions on quantity to sell, education and saving have positively influenced food access. Households that participated in output market generated 19% more on-farm employment than they would have generated without participation.

The study recommends women’s participation in groups, training and use mobile phones to access information to improve their bargaining ability in households’ decisions. Campaigns on gender equality, improvement of rural all-weather roads, households’ income, and strong linkages in the marketing system were also recommended.

Link to Publications

Ingabire, C., Mshenga, P. M., Amacker, M., Langat, J. K., Bigler, C. & Birachi, E. (2018). Agricultural transformation in Rwanda: Can Gendered Market Participation Explain the Persistence of Subsistence Farming? Gender and Women’s Studies, Volume 2, Issue 1, pp. 1-18

Ingabire, C., Mshenga, P. M.., Langat, J. K. Bigler, C., Musoni, A., Butare, L. & Birachi, E. (2017). Towards Commercial Agriculture in Rwanda: Understanding the Determinants of Market Participation among Ssmallholder Bean Farmers. African Journal of Food, Agriculture, Nutrition and Development, Volume 17, Issue 4, pp. 12492 - 12508.