Poverty and gender effects of smallholder organic contract farming in Uganda

Rising demand both for organic tropical products and for year-round supply of some organic temperate products has encouraged organic activists and some donors to promote certified organic export production in a number of tropical African countries, including Uganda. Agricultural produce importers in developed countries have recognized these new market opportunities. As a result, the last decade has seen the emergence and rapid growth of certified organic food and beverage exports from the region (Willer and Yussefi 2007). But organic export growth does not necessarily translate into improved welfare for producers and workers, whether measured in terms of income, health, food security, or other variables. Recent debates have centered on how the rapid conversion of farmland into organic management systems affects food availability and access in poor regions of the world (Sciallaba and Hattam 2002; WWI 2006; FAO 2007).
The objectives of this study were, first, to examine the impacts of certified organic contract farming on the food security of the smallholder farm households participating in such arrangements, and second, to assess the role of gender relations in these dynamics. In particular, the study considered how the costs and benefits of participation are distributed among men and women. In order to meet these objectives, two predominantly qualitative Ugandan case studies were used: the organic pineapple and the organic coffee smallholder contract farming schemes previously mentioned.
The study found that establishment of these two export-oriented certified organic contract farming schemes did not reduce household food security for scheme participants. Rather, it improved food security as higher revenues from certified organic crops enhanced households’ capacity to access food through the market. Gender relations were a critical factor for these welfare outcomes, and women generally had much less control over the benefits from scheme participation than did men, while often carrying an equal or larger share of the labor and management burden. The distribution of the benefits and costs of participation was much more skewed against women in the coffee scheme than in the pineapple one.

Author: 
Bolwig, Simon
Published date: 
2012
Publisher: 
International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI)
Series number: 
8
PDF file: 
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