Gender implications of agricultural commercialisation: The case of sugarcane production in Kilombero District, Tanzania

Future Agricultures Working Paper 118
Helen Dancer and Emmanuel Sulle
May 2015

Since the global food crisis of 2008 the Tanzanian government, amongst other African governments, has made food security through increases in agricultural productivity a policy priority. The emphasis in Tanzania is on commercialisation, with a particular focus on large-scale rice and sugarcane production. Gender equity within African agricultural production is a critical issue; yet limited empirical research exists on the gender implications of agricultural commercialisation now taking place in the region.

This paper presents findings from fieldwork conducted in Kilombero District of Tanzania in 2013 and 2014. The research takes the country’s largest sugar producer – Kilombero Sugar Company Ltd – as its focus and analyses the socio-economic implications of the commercialisation of sugarcane production from a gender perspective. The findings demonstrate the significance of gender relations in the development of commercial agricultural business models, local socio-economic development and land titling measures. They also illustrate the pressures and benefits for relationships and resource-sharing within households in the transition from food crops to sugarcane production.

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