Gender Differences in the Adoption of Cereal Intensification Strategy Sets in Burkina Faso
IDWP 141. Veronique Theriault, Melinda Smale, and Hamza Haider. 2016. Gender Differences in the Adoption of Cereal Intensification Strategy Sets in Burkina Faso
In the West African Sahel, current issues of land fragmentation resulting from high rates of
population growth and climate change exacerbate conditions of chronic food insecurity. In
this context, agricultural intensification is necessary in order to increase food supply and
better understanding gender differences in the adoption of intensification strategies is crucial
for designing effective policies to enhance farm productivity sustainably.
So far, much of the empirical research on gender differences in Sub-Saharan Africa has
focused on assessing relative productivity rather than examining gender-differentiated
determinants of adoption. In conducting gender research, the selection of the appropriate unit
of analysis matters. In none of the previous analyses, including those conducted in Burkina
Faso, were researchers able to control for whether individual plots were managed by the
In addition to the unit of analysis, the attributes of technology, techniques or practices affect
the incentives for their use. The vast majority of adoption studies conducted in the West
African Sahel have focused on soil and water conservation (SWC) practices. In this region, as
compared to Eastern and Southern Africa, use of modern inputs appears to have received
relatively less attention from researchers, with the exception of some work on maize.
In this study, we draw on these two strands of literature to address the adoption of
intensification strategies in cereals production in Burkina Faso. We define intensification
strategy sets (enhancing, protecting, conserving inputs), considering that the economic
attributes of inputs affect adoption incentives. Our approach departs from earlier gender
studies by selecting the individual plot as unit of analysis rather than the household.
We apply multivariate probit models with the Chamberlain-Mundlak device to examine
whether 1) female managers adopt intensification strategy sets at lower rates than their male
counterparts on cereals plots; 2) gender differences in the likelihood of adoption depend on
the strategy set; and 3), determinants of adoption differ between male and female managers
of individual plots.
Descriptive statistics show lower rates of adoption for women compared to men for all
intensification strategy sets. For instance, women plot managers are only slightly more than
half as likely to use yield-enhancing inputs as men plot managers (8 vs. 15%, respectively).
However, more nuanced results emerge from the econometric analysis, once we controlled
for other covariates.
The gender of the plot manager remains statistically significant for one out of three
intensification strategy sets, after controlling for other covariates. No gender differential is
found in the probability of adopting the yield-enhancement and yield-protection sets, whereas
gender of the plot manager significantly influences the probability of adopting the soil and
water conservation set. This finding reflects how both the socio-cultural farming context and
economic attribute of the technology affect incentives to adopt. Having more limited access
to resources and less intrahousehold negotiation power, women are less likely to adopt SWC
strategies, which entail bulkier inputs, more intensive labor, and generate impacts over a
longer time horizon.
The underlying process that explains adoption differs between male and female plot
managers. Plot size and distance from residence influence the probability of adoption of men
and women alike, whereas plot topography affects the adoption decision differently across
gender. Household resources and market and institutional factors do influence the probability
of adoption but in different ways. Women’s adoption decisions are influenced by variables
capturing labor availability, whereas other household resources affect mostly men’s
decisions, especially in regards to the SWC set.
The interrelatedness of adoption strategy sets (yield-enhancing, yield-protecting, and soiland-water-conserving)
confirms the policy importance of designing mechanisms to
encourage the use of combinations of strategies. An intensification strategy set cannot be
promoted in isolation, without considering incentives for other sets. At the same time, the
variation in input use within strategy sets confirms that farmers in these environments are not
best approached with a fixed package in mind.
Gender differentials in adoption rates for the SWC set and among determinants of adoption,
confirm the need to collect data disaggregated at the plot level and design and promote
policies that, while respecting socio-cultural norms, also respect opportunities and incentives
for individuals within multigenerational, multi-family farms. Some changes are needed to
redress the male bias in extension services, by including women as beneficiaries and covering
topics on sustainable intensification, which takes into account women’s constraints to
technology adoption. Credit access also remains crucial for inputs purchased with cash (yieldenhancing
and yield-protecting sets), especially for women who have limited economic
control within the household. Improving access to education, income, and equipment to
women could contribute to increase their bargaining power and thereby, adoption of
sustainable intensification strategies.