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Wageningen University (2010)

Economics of gender, risk and labour in horticultural households in Senegal

NDOYE NIANE Aïfa Fatimata

Titre : Economics of gender, risk and labour in horticultural households in Senegal

Auteur : NDOYE NIANE Aïfa Fatimata

Université de soutenance : Wageningen University

Grade : PhD 2010

Rsumé partiel
Women play an important role in agricultural production, particularly in Africa, by managing their own farm and by providing their labour to their husband’s fields. Regardless of the predominance of a gender bias with regard to their access to resource, women constitute a vital force in the development of agriculture. Throughout the world, gender issues in the development of agriculture and women’s role and contribution to agriculture continue to be a great subject of debate. Despite the wide range of literature available, the importance of agriculture to the economic development in Africa and the critical role that rural women play within this sector still constitute an attractive research agenda.

In Sub-Saharan African countries, where the majority of the population derives its food and livelihood from agriculture, a strong growth in agriculture is vital for the process of economic development. Agriculture must be the leading sector for overall growth, poverty alleviation, and the reduction of income disparities. In such a context, getting agriculture to move forward is crucial. Particularly with the drastic changes in the world food situation, which affect Africa more than any other region, much more attention should be paid to the supply side of agriculture, both for food crops and market-oriented crops. In fact, cash crops, with high added value products like horticultural products, offer opportunities to boost the agricultural growth in developing countries like Senegal, where horticulture is a key element of the agricultural sector.

Accordingly, with the recent world-wide food trouble, there is a need, more than ever, to examine the economic performance of the agricultural producers, and especially the efficiency of the use of scarce resources, to confront the challenges ahead. However, the key role of women in the agricultural sector in many parts of the world, and particularly in agriculture-based countries like African countries, calls for more gender-sensitive approaches and for policies that take people’s gender identity into account. Jointly, all these reasons widely justify the relevance of this research thesis, which aims to investigate the economic performance of horticultural households in Senegal, using efficiency and profitability as main indicators and adopting a gender perspective.

Efficiency is assessed in a specific social, cultural, economic, and institutional context, in which polygamy occurs and husband and wives usually manage their plots separately. In this context, next to household labour, the labour market offers possibilities to hire labour under two common forms of contract, based on sharecropping or wage. In addition, with the high volatility of the price of horticultural products, the market risk is challenging. Therefore, from this context emerge four main research questions addressed in this thesis, related to (i) the efficiency of the allocation of household resource over men and women, (ii) the efficiency of contracts with hired workers, either as wage labourers or as sharecroppers for household profit optimization, (iii) risk behaviour across gender, and (iv) its effects on the economic performance and the choice of labour contracts. Three chapters (Chapters 3, 4 and 5) provide theoretical and empirical evidence on these research questions, preceded by two chapters (Chapters 1 and 2) setting out the purpose and background of this research.

Mots clés : economics / risk / labour / agricultural households / horticulture / senegal / developing countries / west africa / resource allocation / performance / development economics / gender / household behaviour

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Page publiée le 13 septembre 2010, mise à jour le 30 mai 2022