A Comparison of Male-Female Household Headship and Agricultural Production in Marginal Areas of Rachuonyo and Homa Bay District, Kenya

J. O. Auma, J. K. Lagat, M. W. Nagigi


Studies on agricultural production and gender are full of contradictions as to whether female farmers are less productive than male farmers even under similar production systems and environments. The objective of this paper was to assess and compare the agricultural production differences of the male and female headed households in marginal areas bordering Lake Victoria region. A sample of 125 farmers surveyed during feasibility study of smallholder irrigation scheme in Rachuonyo and Homa Bay district was used for the study. The study compared demographic, socio-economic and agricultural production characteristics of male- and female- headed households using t-ratios. The study revealed that female heads of households were significantly less educated, owned and cultivated smaller land parcels, used fewer family labour in the farm but more external labour as compared to male headed households which formed 54% of the sample. Female-headed households were less efficient in agricultural production as they produced about half the production of male-headed households and disposed 38% of the produce in the local market with negative implications on both household food security and commercialization of agriculture. The study concluded that female-headed households need to be specifically targeted with specific programmes that will reduce low production trap by increasing farm productivity through provision of cheap agricultural credits and/ or subsidies. The government should pursue policies that expand rural economies that will discourage temporary male out- migration to urban centres which is the main source of de-facto female headship.


Male-headed households, Female-headed households, Marginal farms, Agricultural production

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