Women's participation in high value agricultural commodity chains in Kenya: Strategies for closing the gender gap
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In developing economies, well-functioning markets are known to provide the poor with avenues for wealth creation. Using a value chain approach, this paper aims at examining bottlenecks to and opportunities for different categories of women to participate in markets for high value agricultural commodities, with a view to identifying feasible upgrading strategies for the different categories. The findings are based on a case study of Kenya's avocado value chain, which depicts export and domestic market orientation. The data were collected through focus group discussions, key informant interviews, in-depth interviews and household surveys. The results suggest that in the more commercialized and well developed chains like that of export, upgrading strategies vary for the different typologies of women. While women in female headed households may require limited efforts such as tailoring financial products to their needs or providing interlinked services coupled with prompt payment for their produce to allow them to produce quality fruits and access lucrative markets, women in male headed households need institutionalization of gender-sensitive policies in the governance of producer groups to enable them to upgrade as chain integrators and chain owners. In the less commercialized domestic chain, limited efforts may be required to upgrade women along the chain, but the need to change from the less marketable local variety to exotic variety is likely to alter women's position, thereby calling for the need to institutionalize gender-sensitive policies in the governance of existing organized groups and use the groups as a platform to introduce the new variety. (C) 2017 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
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