Can strengthening women’s influence in land-use decisions lead to a greater adoption of cocoa agroforests?

Cocoa in Ecuador. Photo: World Agroforestry Centre

 

Women play important roles in cocoa value chains in Ecuador, which is being increasingly recognized, according to new research.

 

Over the last two decades in Latin America, cultural norms and laws have become more inclusive of gender equity; women have taken more prominent roles in society and women’s legal rights have been strengthened. Ecuador has led many of these trends, especially in ensuring equity in property rights and in employment opportunities and political representation.

Even with these changes, distinct gender roles have remained prevalent in cocoa production in Ecuador. Women are often seen as “helpers” even though they fulfill many of the same tasks as men, especially in planting, harvesting and post-harvest activities. They often have less access to extension or advisory programs and are less likely to be members of cooperatives. However, women are becoming more prominent landowners in Ecuador, involved in land-use decisions and involved in determining how money made in these farming systems and off the farms is spent.

Recent research has also pointed out that women often place a higher value on the environmental benefits received from, and subsistence crops associated with, agroforestry systems and other sustainable farming practices. With women playing a more prominent role in cocoa production and decision-making, they may have more influence on whether a household uses agroforestry and other agro-ecological practices on their cocoa plots. Our study examined to what extent women were able to influence the cocoa production decisions in general, and if women’s inclusion in these decisions altered the land-use choice of the household. Furthermore, we examined which actions can be taken to ensure that women and men’s preferences are included in land-use decisions.

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The World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) is a centre of scientific excellence that harnesses the benefits of trees for people and the environment. Knowledge produced by ICRAF enables governments, development agencies and farmers to utilize the power of trees to make farming and livelihoods more environmentally, socially and economically sustainable at multiple scales. ICRAF is one of the 15 members of the CGIAR, a global research partnership for a food-secure future. We thank all donors who support research in development through their contributions to the CGIAR Fund.

 

Trent Blare

Trent Blare is a scientist at the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) based in Lima, Peru, focusing on value chains, gender analysis, economic games, and payment for environmental services schemes.

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