Gender-differentiated impacts of plant clinics on maize productivity and food security Evidence from Zambia
Published: May, 2021
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.
Farmers’ crops are increasingly at the mercy of climate change, pests and diseases. PlantwisePlus will work to help countries predict, prepare for and prevent potential threats and reduce crop losses. We will provide comprehensive support to countries and farmers so they meet the increasing global demand for quality food in a changing climate.
Worldwide, over 500 million smallholder farmers provide food for two-thirds of the earth’s growing population. Achieving a zero hunger world by 2030 depends on increasing the productivity of these smallholder farmers – but their crops face a significant threat. Yearly, an estimated 40% of crops grown worldwide are lost to pests. If we could reduce crop losses by just 1%, we could potentially feed millions more people. The lack of access to timely, appropriate and actionable extension advice makes it a fundamental challenge for farmers to get the right information at the right time to reduce crop losses.