Gender disparities in accessing resources and services among organic farmers
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Gender is a key factor in explaining the variation in access to agricultural services in rural low income communities in Uganda; it would therefore be useful to separately analyze the accessibility of male- and female-headed households to social support services. Organic agriculture is well defined in a number of documents, according to the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements, IFOAM, it refers to all agricultural systems that promote the environmentally, socially and economically sound production of food and fibres. These systems take local soil fertility as a key to successful production The data for this study was obtained from a baseline survey on organic farming that was conducted in the districts of Gulu, Pader, Kayunga, Namutumba, Mubende and Kasese. These districts were purposely selected. The study population consisted of farmers who are located in districts where National Organic Agriculture Movement of Uganda (NOGAMU) operates through collaborative partnerships with a number of organizations. The total sample size was 284 households, of which 29 were found to be certified organic. The data were analyzed using descriptive statistics and econometric techniques to understand the gender disparities between male and female organic farmers in access to agricultural resources and services. Descriptive results revealed that 50.35% of the households interviewed were headed by males while 49.65% were headed by females. The mean area of land cultivated by farmers in the study was 5.85 acres. Certified organic farmers cultivate less land (2.04) acres than their respective counterparts (6.34). The average distance to the nearest market for all farmers in the survey was 4.29km. The mean farming experience of all farmers was 23.49years. Analysis showed that non certified farmers had a higher mean farming experience (23.92 years) than certified organic farmers with experience of 19.83 years. Certified organic farmers on average harvested on a smaller area of land (1.10 acres) than their counterparts who on average harvested on 3.33 acres of land. Generally, more farmers are not certified organic farmers and do not use improved seeds. On the other hand, there are more certified farmers who use improved seeds. This further attests to the higher value attached to improved technologies among organic farmers. Analysis of access to transport revealed that noncertified farmers had more access to better transport means than certified farmers. Certified organic farmers were closer to the nearest tarmac road at a distance of 9.79km than the noncertified farmers who on average were 21.08km away from the nearest tarmac road. Characterization of the farmers according to the gender of the household head revealed that on average, female household heads with the mean age of 43.36 years were older than male household heads with the mean age of 35.48 years. In comparison, male household heads spent more years in school (7.15 years) than their female counterparts who on average spent 5.19 years in school. Further analysis shows that this difference in education level is significant at all levels of significance. Female household heads had a greater working experience (24.25years) than male household heads with a mean working experience of 22.74 years. On the contrary, female headed households harvested a larger area with mean area of 4.27acres than their male headed counterparts with mean area of 3.21acres Male headed households were on average closer to the nearest weekly market with a mean distance of 3.92 km as compared to female headed households at a mean distance of 4.67km. Male headed households were closer to the nearest tarmac road (19.38km) than their female headed counterparts at a mean distance of 25.96km. Results showed that more male household heads (10) belonged to farmer groups than their female counterparts (7). Generally, a higher number of organic farmers (20) in the baseline had never had a loan from either a bank or an MFI in the last 3 years as compared to those who had borrowed (9). More male household heads (6) had accessed a loan in the last 3 years as compared to their female counterparts (3). Results from the multiple linear regression model revealed that specifically, age exhibited a positive and significant relationship (at 5% level) of significance. This positive relationship points to the fact that the older the farmer is, the more assets he has accumulated over time therefore he is expected to have a higher asset value. The findings from this study are limited to the study area, thus a need to carry out similar studies in other regions of the country and using larger study samples to allow for broader generalization. Such studies are relevant to policy makers in formulating gender sensitive policies to bridge the gender gap.