Are there nutritional trade-offs in increasing women’s time in agriculture?
This blog on AgriLinks from the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) elaborates on the linkages between women’s engagement in farming and nutrition within rural households. Many studies have shown that one way to improve nutrition among rural households is to increase women’s engagement in farming since increasing women’s control of food production and their power to make decisions, leads to better nutrition for their families. However, increasing women’s time in agriculture may also have adverse effects on their own and their families’ nutrition, taking time away from nutrition-improving domestic work such as preparing food, feeding, childcare, collecting water and firewood, and engaging in good hygiene and sanitation practices. Using time use and nutrition data from Bangladesh, Cambodia, Ghana, Mozambique, and Nepal, the author argues that there is a difference between asset-rich and asset-poor households. When women in poor households sacrifice domestic and cooking work to other tasks, the quality of their diet—and that of their children—suffers. However, in non asset-poor households, children’s dietary diversity was less sensitive to changes in women’s time in cooking or domestic chores. The author concludes that those designing agricultural interventions should assess the gender roles in agricultural and domestic work, including identifying who controls what in the agricultural process to avoid unintended consequences on nutrition.