On May 23, 2014, ISET hosted a presentation by Dr. Ira Gang from Rutgers University, who presented his paper titled: “Is women’s ownership of land a panacea in developing countries? evidence from land-owing farm households in Malawi”.


Traditionally, throughout Sub-Saharan Africa, lucrative cash crops are perceived as “male crops”, while lower value crops for home consumption are perceived as “female crops”. However, the potential for engaging female agricultural producers in high-value crop activities has been of increasing focus in much of the recent development literature and policy discourse. The assumption being that women cultivating “male crops” will not only bolster their economic empowerment, but will also improve overall household welfare, especially that of children.

Based on a representative household survey from Malawi, Dr. Gang’s paper researches the consequences of female empowerment and engagement in producing high value crops (cash crops) on household welfare characteristics. The findings of the paper indicate that female involvement in producing cash crops, and women’s control of the income derived from such products, have positive impacts on several household welfare characteristics. However, the policy implication is that facilitating female ownership of assets through informal and formal institutions does not, on its own, increase welfare when appropriate complementary resources and institutions are absent.

The presentation was followed by an extensive question session during which Dr. Gang provided further details about the work he presented and the potential outlook of the research.

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