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close this bookToward Gender Equality: The Role of Public Policy (WB, 1995, 88 p.)
close this folderChapter two
View the documentGender Inequalities Hamper Growth
View the documentHousehold and Intrahousehold Resource Allocation
View the documentLinkages between Education Health, and Nutritious
View the documentHousehold and Labor Market Linkages
View the documentFormal Sector Employment
View the documentInformal Sector
View the documentAccess to Financial Markets
View the documentAccess to Lund and Property
View the documentAccess to Extension Services
View the documentConclusion

Access to Extension Services

Agricultural extension services provide information training and technology to agricultural producers. Extension services have always been regarded as necessary for agricultural modernization. Given the importance of women's labor to agriculture in most regions, providing women with access to agricultural extension services is essential for current and future productivity. Types of agricultural extension services vary, hut in most countries publicly provided services dominate. Evidence suggests that women have not benefited as much as men have from publicly provided extension services.

Given the importance of women's labor to agriculture it is in most regions providing women with access to agricultural extension services is essential for current and future of productivity.

A review of five African countries shows that extension agents are most likely to visit male farmers than female farmers (table 2.5) The impact of this inequity on female productivity depends in part on whether women and men within households pool information. There is, however. little evidence to suggest that this happens (see box 2.4). It is important to ensure that extension services reach omen directly, not only to redress gender inequalities but also to maximize productive efficiency. omen play a critical role in production of food and cash crops for the household. in postharvest activities. and in livestock care Men and omen perform different tasks they can substitute for one another only to a limited extent. and this imitation creates different demands for extension information Also, as men leave farms in search of paid employment ill urban areas. women are increasingly managing and operating farms on a regular and full-time basis. Hence. omen are becoming a constituency for extension and research services in their own right (World Bank 1994e)

Table 2.5 visits by agricultural extension agents (percentage of households visited)

Country and year

Households with female head

Households with male head

Kenya. 1989



Malawi, 1989



Nigeria 1989



Tanzania, 1984










Box 2.4 do women farmers learn from their husbands?

A survey of women farmers in Burkina Faso found that 40 percent had some knowledge of modern crop and livestock production technologies. For most of these women, relatives and friends were the source of information; nearly one-third had acquired their knowledge from the extension service, and only 1 percent had heard of the technologies from their husbands.

Men are less likely to pass information on to their wives when crops and tasks are gender specific. In Malawi women claimed that their husbands rarely passed on advice to them: if their husbands did tell them something. the women did not find it relevant to their needs. In India women learned from friends, relatives. neighbors. and sometimes from their husbands. but this second-hand information seldom changed their production patterns (Saito and Spurling 1992).

The expansion of agricultural services beyond the public sector is a growing phenomenon in developing economies. The inadequacies of public funding plus the need to provide snore client-oriented services, suggest that the private sector has an important role to play However, women's limited access to land and credit put the many potential benefits offered by extension services out of reach. For example in Kenya's Meru and Maranga areas more than half the women surveyed cited a shortage of cash as their reason for not adopting, technologies that would maximize their output and increase their efficiency. The amount of education omen receive and the efficiency with which they run their farms are also closely linked This tie is particularly significant in light of the fact that one purpose of extension services is to advise farmers on use of modern technology.

Three studies of Kenya found that the gender of the farm manager was, by itself. an insignification factor in output per hectare but that the manager's educational level had a significant effect on farm productivity (Moock 1976: Saito and Spurling 1992: Bindlish and Evenson 1993). Simulations based on these studies suggest that significant gains could accrue to increased investment in women's physical and human capital. As the data in table 2.6 show, if women and men shared the same educational characteristics and input levels. farm-specific yields would increase between 7 and 22 percent. Giving women primary schooling, by itself. would increase yields by 24 percent. Thus under investment in women's education limits growth of agricultural productivity. Well-targeted extension services can help to narrow the differences in productivity that arise from educational inequalities (Schultz 1988)

Increasing Human Capital and Input Levels Would Increase tile Yield for Women Farmers.

Table 2.6 effects of increasing women farmers' human capital and input levels Increase yields

Policy experiment


Maize farmers Kenya, 1976

Effects of giving female farmers sample mean characteristics and input levels


Effects of giving female farmer s men's education and input levels


Effects of giving women primary schooling


Food maize (maize beans and cow pears) farmers

Effects of giving female farmer men's education and input levels


Effects of increasing land area to male farmers' levels


Effects of increasing fertilizer to male farmers' levels