Variables Influencing Increased Agricultural Yields in Areas of Socioeconomic Transition

Grants and Contracts Details


In the mid-1990s, certification data showed that only 9% of Oaxaca, Mexico's fairtrade-organic coffee farmers were women. By 2013 the female organic farmer rate had increased to 42% of registered farmers. The objective of our project is to determine the conditions under which participation in quality global value chains (GVCs) is associated with increased measures of gender equity. The dramatic increase in women's participation in the traditionally male-dominated sphere of export coffee production is associated with ongoing structural changes in the quality GVC, including heightened producer engagement in organic certification and fair trade management tasks and increased access to new economic subsidies and market opportunities. However, it remains to be seen whether and/or how this market participation fosters gender equity in producer organizations and communities. Our research will explore three factors, identified through preliminary research, that are associated with changing gender balances in the production of certified coffee, asking how these factors affect participation and gender equity within organizations and households: (a) organizational differences between coffee producer associations, such as gendered policies and practices regarding leadership and decision-making power, (b) coffee quality, market access, and external partnerships, and (c) differences in community governance structures (usos y costumbres vs. political parties) and local gender norms. Women's agricultural production is understudied across Latin America; consequently, this project fills an existing gap in our understanding of female involvement in cash crop production, especially within quality-GVC's. Since cash crop production holds significant potential as a means by which rural households can improve their welfare (Vargas Hill &Vigneri 2011), our research will be useful for coffee organizations, non-governmental organizations, and states interested in bolstering women's involvement in quality-GVC's. A wider theoretical goal of this research is to map gender equity outcomes against structural changes, such as heightened governance and strict production requirements, in quality-oriented Global Value Chains (henceforth Q-GVCs). Certified fairtrade-organic products, such as coffee (Lyon 2011; Bacon et al 2008; Jaffee 2007; Mutersbaugh 2005, 2002), concord with structurally similar certified Q-GVCs dedicated to producing a wide range of 'qualities' such as biodiversity (Rice 2003, Vandermeer et al 2010, Baird & Quastel 2011), payment for ecological services (West 2006; Osborne 2011, Adhikari & Boag 2013), sustainable wood (Henne 2010; Klooster 2010), or poverty reduction (Besky 2013; West 2012; Reichman 2011; Lyon & Moberg 2010; Moberg 2010; Bacon 2005). Payments are based on the certification of producer compliance to externally-defined standards (ISO, organic, fair trade etc.). Within this Q-GVC context, scholars note a tendency for impact studies to 'aggregate' benefits data without recognizing variable distributional patterns of benefits across groups defined by gender, socioeconomic status, ethnicity, geography or time (Terstappen et al 2013, Lele & Srinivasan 2013, Beymer-Farris & Bassett 2012, Daw et al. 2011). In contrast, our approach seeks methods to disaggregate data to better map benefits and costs of Q-GVC participation across heterogeneous communities and diverse participants. Consequently, the research answers calls for gender disaggregated data and systematic evaluation of mechanisms to improve women's access to agricultural markets and services (Doss 2013, Meinzen-Dick et al 2011, World Bank 2011). In addition, our gendered value chain approach recognizes that value chains and their laborers are embedded within broader social and economic institutions that are not gender neutral (Barrientos et al 2003; Tallontire et al 2005; Allen & Sachs 2007; Risgaard 2010; Kasente 2012; Bain 2014). Addressing gender within value chain analysis means recognizing that GVCs are embedded in a larger context that defines the work that men and women do, the groups they join, and how resources and benefits are distributed (Quisumbing et al 2014). A recent survey found that less than one percent of the total accumulated research on GVCs uses a gendered approach (Dunaway 2014b) and consequently our proposed research fills a deep lacuna in the existing literature. Women make up 43% of agricultural workers worldwide, yet due to significant gender disparities they produce less than their male counterparts (World Bank 2011). Furthermore, their voices are often less heard in critical and often male-dominated policy debates and decision-making processes related to agriculture and development (Meinzen-Dick et al 2011). Our research will assist in future policy design to enhance gender equity with respect to Q-GVCs, labor modalities, market innovations, network structures and agricultural services. Closing the gender gap in agriculture would put more resources in the hands of women and strengthen their voice within the household-a proven strategy for enhancing the food security, nutrition, education and health of future generations (FAO 2011).
Effective start/end date3/15/165/31/19


  • National Science Foundation: $138,966.00


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