Gender, Household Composition, and Adoption of Soil Fertility Technologies: A Study of Women Rice Farmers in Southern Senegal


  • Amy J. Sullivan


If as claimed by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations women grow up to eighty percent of the food produced in Africa, then targeting them during research, technology development and dissemination makes sense. In order to do so, it is necessary to recognize that not all women farmers are the same with respect to their access to resources, or their goals and motivation. This research shows how an additional factor—household composition—can determine which subgroups of women farmers can adopt technologies aimed at increasing their productivity, under what conditions. Adoption by farmers is the ultimate test of research and technology in agricultural development, and should be the ultimate goal as well.  To meet this goal these processes need to be designed and carried out with end users in mind.  This means understanding the target audience before researching and developing new technologies.  In Africa, this means focusing on women farmers and understanding their livelihood options and resource allocation decisions.  In addition, it means exploring household composition as a key factor that can increase or decrease the likelihood of adoption of technologies by women farmers.