ROLE OF WOMEN EMPOWERMENT ON CROP DIVERSIFICATION: EVIDENCE FROM RURAL BANGLADESH
Hosain, K M Masnun
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As arable land is declining and global climate is changing, crop diversification has become a desirable tool for safeguarding livelihood of farming household from extreme climate events, ensuring food security, and dietary diversity. With women comprising the large share of agriculture labor and having information on household food consumption, they can play a crucial role in farming household’s diversification decisions. In this paper, I investigate the role of women empowerment to determine the crop diversification in farming households. I examine the relationship between women empowerment and crop diversification using two rounds of national data from the Bangladesh Integrated Household Survey. I use the recently developed women empowerment scores, the number of productive decisions sole/jointly taken by women, the number of productive assets sole/jointly owned by women, the number of groups women belong to as an indicator of women empowerment. To measure crop diversification, I use the Simpson crop diversification index, the number of crops produced by the household, and intercropping dummy. Ordinary Least Square (OLS), Zero Truncated Negative Binomial (ZTNB), and probit analysis suggest a positive relationship between crop diversification and women empowerment in Bangladesh. The magnitude of the coefficients, however, suggests a weak relationship between the variables of interest. However, different results obtained from two measures of diversification indicate women contribute to diversification through homestead farming decisions, rather than large scale farming in the cultivable lands. In addition, the analysis of wealth effect on the nexus of crop diversification and women empowerment provides mixed results in the two different rounds. Firstly, in round one, women from richer households are associated with crop diversification, in round two specialization is observed among all households. These results suggest, in later years women may engage in other farming activities such as livestock farming or participate in other employment opportunities. Nevertheless, providing incentives to the female farmers, enacting policy to establish women’s property rights, developing women’s agro-organization, and Agricultural Small and Medium Enterprises (Agri-SME) might increase women’s participation in the agriculture sectors.