To sell or consume? Gendered household decision-making on crop production, consumption, and sale in Malawi uri icon

abstract

  • Value chains and agricultural commercialization are increasingly being promoted as mechanisms for agricultural transformation, inclusive growth, and-more recently-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. This study 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. 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.

publication date

  • 2020
  • 2020