Gender Dynamics in Small Scale Irrigation Agriculture among Smallholder Farmers in Lume District in the Central Rift Valley of Ethiopia

Kalkidan Fikirie


Ethiopian economy predominantly depends on rain-fed agriculture. The sector is anticipated to support the whole economy and to change its structure. However, the country is highly affected by drought and millions of people are left without sustenance frequently. As an option, small scale irrigation schemes are important to reduce vulnerability and increase productivity. In this aspect, it is important to consider the implication of gender in irrigation crop farming under small scale scheme. This study was aimed to investigate irrigation agriculture among smallholder farmers and gender dynamics in Lume district in the Central Rift Valley of Ethiopia. Both quantitative and qualitative data collection was used and purposive sampling technique was implemented to select four peasant associations in the district. Households were stratified into male headed households and female headed households and simple random sampling was used to proportionally select 165 households from both groups (135 male headed households and 30 female headed households). Key informant interview, focus group discussions and household survey were also used to collect primary data. The data analysis was carried out by using descriptive statistics, one way ANOVA and chi-square tests. Results of the study showed that there was a significant difference in irrigation crop preference between male and female headed households. Male headed households mostly prefer high value crops such as onion, tomato and cabbage, while female headed household prefer easily manageable and low water demanding crops. Results on engagement in management practices revealed that female headed household mainly participate in planting, weeding, hoeing, harvesting, while male headed household are widely involved in land clearing, cultivation, crop watering, disease and pest control and transporting. The study has concluded that gender has significant roles and implications in small scale irrigation agriculture through its direct influence in participation, labor division and crop preference. Finally, the study suggests that improving the involvement of female headed households in irrigation agriculture, special consideration should be given by government and non-governmental organization.

Keywords: Crop preference, Female headed farmers, marketing agricultural crops, Vegetable production

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ISSN 2422-8400

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