To sell or consume? Gendered household decision-making on crop production, consumption, and sale in Malawi
This study in the Food Security journal examines the sociocultural drivers of gendered household decisions to produce and sell or consume nutritious crops, based on analysis of 80 in-depth interviews with women and men in three regions of Malawi. Value chains and agricultural commercialization are increasingly being promoted as mechanisms for agricultural transformation, inclusive growth, and improving food security and diets. Donors and implementers promote production of nutritious crops as a mechanism for improving the quality and diversity of diets of the rural poor. However, while there is a theoretical basis for this, there is a need for a deeper empirical understanding of how, under what circumstances, and through what pathways own-production of nutritious foods improves diets. Respondents define all food crops as nutritious and marketable and emphasize maize-security over other more nutrient-dense food crops. The findings provide an in-depth understanding of diet patterns and preferences in the study population. It becomes clear that a sophisticated evaluation procedure guides household production, sale, and consumption decisions wherein a wide range of criteria are considered. In addition, insights emerge on the role of gendered structural domains in these decisions, dismissing a clear dichotomy of men’s crops and women’s crops and supporting a more nuanced and diverse view of these domains.