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Tropentag, September 14 - 16, 2022, Prague

"Can agroecological farming feed the world? Farmers' and academia's views."

Who benefits? The gender-differentiated impacts of plant clinics in Zambia

Justice A. Tambo

Center for Agriculture and Biosciences International (CABI), Delémont, Switzerland


Pests, including insects, pathogens and weeds continue to pose a major threat to global crop production and food security. The United Nation’s declaration of 2020 as the International Year of Plant Health underscores the crucial role of crop protection in achieving the sustainable development goals. In this article, we analyse the gendered impacts of plant clinics―an innovative extension approach that aims to help smallholder farmers to lose less of their crops to pests through the provision of plant health diagnostic and advisory services. In particular, we investigate whether male and female farmers accrue similar benefits, in terms of technology adoption, maize productivity and food security, from participating in plant clinics. We use gender-disaggregated plot-level data from maize producers in Zambia. Applying doubly robust estimators, we find that participation in plant clinics stimulates the adoption of multiple pest management strategies, which boost maize yield and income by 14% and 27% respectively, and ultimately help to stave off food insecurity. A disaggregated analysis shows that both male and female farmers achieve positive outcomes from using plant clinic services, but the effects are disproportionately greater for male farmers. We also observe heterogeneous impacts for female household heads and female spouses, reflecting differences in decision-making power within the household. The findings suggest that plant clinics can play a significant role in helping male and female farmers address crop health problems and reduce transitory food insecurity, but female participants (particularly female spouses) will need additional support if the goal is to bridge the gender gap in agricultural productivity.

Keywords: Agricultural extension, agricultural productivity, food security, gender, plant clinics, Zambia

Contact Address: Justice A. Tambo, Center for Agriculture and Biosciences International (CABI), Delémont, Switzerland, , e-mail: j.tambo@cabi.org

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