Le rôle du genre dans l’intensification de la production du sorgho au Burkina Faso: Une étude de méthodes mixtes

March 1, 2018 - Isabelle Dabiré, <msmale@msu.edu>, et Veronique Theriault

IDWP 159. Isabelle Dabiré, Melinda Smale, et Veronique Theriault. Mars 2018. Le rôle du genre dans l’intensification de la production du sorgho au Burkina Faso: Une étude de méthodes mixtes

Agriculture is fundamental to the economic development of Burkina Faso, where it is largely based on the extensive production of food crops by smallholder farmers. The use of improved seed, fertilizers, and soil and water conservation practices has been promoted by the government in an effort to intensify production, raise yields, and enhance food security. Nonetheless, use of such inputs remains limited, especially among women farmers.

This study examines differences in access to inputs between male and female sorghum producers in Burkina Faso. Sorghum is the most widely cultivated crop in the country in terms of area and is a main component of the diet. Previous studies of agricultural intensification in Burkina Faso have focused on maize and rice, which are both considered to be cash crops. The methodological approach is based primarily on participatory research, and includes both qualitative and quantitative analysis. Primary research was conducted by the first author in three villages of Burkina Faso in 2015. For purposes of comparison, the authors also consult national survey data collected under the Enquête Permanente Agricole (EPA) of the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security for agricultural seasons 2009/10 to 2011/12.

Historical profiles confirm the significance of famines, harvest losses from birds or insects, and droughts in the memories of villagers, and that these are remembered differently by men and women. Interviews confirm that women do not have the right to inherit land in their natal village or village of marriage. In this patrilineal system, upon marriage, women are accorded use rights to a plot by the senior male of the husband’s family. While the rate of use of improved seed was similar between male and female growers, women reported less access to seed. Men were nearly twice as likely to use mineral fertilizer. The difference in use rates was smaller for organic fertilizer, but women reported difficulties obtaining it for their plots. Family livestock holdings are the primary source of manure, although manure is also purchased. Given the prominence of droughts and rainfall uncertainty among historical events, the vast majority of male and female growers had used soil and water conservation practices at one time or another and slightly over half practiced in them during the year of the study. The national data generally underscore the low overall rates of adoption of the above inputs by female as compared to male sorghum growers. Detailed analysis of labor use calendars shows that while all family members are engaged in sorghum production, harvesting, transport, and sales, female members relied more on manual labor than male members.

Findings suggest that the most limiting factors for intensification of sorghum production are social and organizational in nature—reflecting the norms that guide access to land, equipment, and inputs more than lack of resources per se. Notably, this includes use rights and how these are negotiated within complex farming households. Better understanding of constraints to women’s input use is important given their contribution to farm production and household food security in Burkina Faso.


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