Evolving Gender Relations in Transforming Cassava Value Chains and Implications for Intrahousehold Nutrition and health: The case of Tanzania

Last changed: 15 September 2020

The project focused on evolving gender relations in households, communities and cassava value chains in light of the rapid commercialization and increasing higher value added processing of the crop in Tanzania, and generates strategies and options for improving outcomes.

Background

Cassava is one of the most important food staples in Africa in terms of calories consumed and it is also the cheapest source of calories. Its roots are rich in carbohydrates while its leaves are rich in protein and vitamins. In the face of increasingly erratic rainfall and growing volatility in world cereal prices, cassava commercialization offers a viable pathway for improving economic opportunities and food security for low-income households mired in poverty and a state of malnutrition. Over the last decades the crop has moved from mainly being produced by women for subsistence needs to become a viable commercial enterprise for smallholder farmers while generating jobs in the burgeoning processing sector; a transformation process that first took place in West Africa, more recently in Southern Africa, and currently in East Africa.

Empirical evidence from developing settings suggest that the introduction of new market opportunities often change gendered production and distribution relations with different outcomes for women and men: It has, for instance, been noted that the commercialization of crops earlier mainly grown by women for home consumption often leads to men claiming control over production and marketing. This points to the need for in depth analyses focusing on the gender relations in these value chains in the wake of rapid commercialization: Who gains? What are the intrahousehold nutrition and health outcomes? Yet, efforts to systematically chart and evaluate the performance and livelihood impacts of the crop are scant. Hence, it was now opportune to explore this.

The project

Informed by a human geography perspective and grounded in the local context and the subjective and embodied experiences of women and men, this mixed methods research project explored and explained how the interaction of gender norms, agency and innovation in cassava production, processing and marketing shapes development outcomes related to intrahousehold nutrition and health in contexts characterized by widespread malnutrition. 

This project was carried out at the Department of Urban and Rural Development at the Swedish University for Agricultural Sciences (SLU). I collaboration with the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) in USA, the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) in Tanzania and the CGIAR Collaborative Platform for Gender Research, the project was conducted within the CRP on Agriculture for Nutrition and Health (A4NH), led by IFPRI. 

Facts:

Project leader

Johanna Bergman Lodin, Researcher, Division of Rural Development, SLU

Project time

2014–2018

External funding

FORMAS and International Food Policy Research Institute

Page editor: anni.hoffren@slu.se