Does Household Headship Affect Demand for Hybrid Maize Seed in Kenya? An Exploratory Analysis Based on 2010 Survey Data

November 2, 2011 - Author:

IDWP 115. Melinda Smale. 2011. Does Household Headship Affect Demand for Hybrid Maize Seed in Kenya? An Exploratory Analysis Based on 2010 Survey Data

Women are central to food production and maize is a dominant food staple in Sub-Saharan
Africa, but published gender analyses of hybrid seed use in Sub-Saharan Africa are
uncommon. Building on previous work, this paper tests the effects of headship definitions on
hybrid seed use and explores the variation between male- and female-headed households and
among female-headed households in Kenya. Analysis is based on survey data collected by
Tegemeo Institute of Egerton College during the 2009-10 cropping season.

Gender specialists have demonstrated that whether a farmer is a man or a woman is not, in
and of itself, the most important factor affecting adoption of agricultural technologies.
Controlling for farmers’ access to productive resources, wealth, education, or marital status
may eliminate gender differences in adoption rates, also modulating gender differences in
adoption impacts. In a recent policy review, gender analysis experts noted that few studies
have examined socio-economic differences among women when analyzing decision-making,
such as technology adoption.

The purposes of this paper are to: 1) compare the determinants of hybrid seed use between
households headed by men and women; 2) explore the heterogeneity among female-headed
households and how this affects the use of hybrid seed; and 3) generate hypotheses for the
design of more in-depth survey research on gender and maize productivity in Kenya.
Determinants of adoption are identified by estimating double hurdle and Tobit regressions
based on a reduced form model of household decision-making. The structure of variation
among household groups is examined with discriminant and cluster analysis.

The vast majority of female heads in Kenya are widows. Female-headed households are not
easily segmented into distinct groups based on observed variables. As expected, with respect
to most types of assets (including adult labor), and income, they represent a statistically
different population from households headed by a resident male. Consequently, their maize
productivity is also lower. However, these factors held constant, headship is not an important
determinant of demand for hybrid seed or experience using it, and hybrid seed use is not a
discriminating variable among households. One reason why, we posit, is the long experience
of Kenya farmers using hybrid seed.


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