In four comparative case studies in Africa (Morocco, Ghana, Tanzania and Zambia), the project aims to examine the role of large-scale investments in changing gender relations and food security. Using social anthropological and geographical qualitative research methods, the impact of land investments on gender relations will be investigated.
The project aims to close the gap in research on changing land rights and investment conditions in Africa and the related gender relations. In particular, there is a lack of case studies that address local gender perspectives. The theoretical inclusion of the neo-institutional approach, which deals with the shaping of institutions in access to resources under asymmetrical power relations and ideology that creates legitimation, is also lacking. The research promises comparative qualitative results for later quantitative research.
With the recent wave of large-scale land acquisitions (so called 'land grabbing') in developing countries, the issue of contract farming has gaimed renewed interest on the international policy agenda. While by many it is seen as having the potential to create win-win scenarios for investors and farmers alike, there is still a lack of concrete evidence outlining the impacts of contract farming arrangements for local women and men.
This interdisciplinary project aims to analyze the impacts of contract farming on the local food system and its constitutive components (i.e. food production, food processing, food distribution and food consuming) with a special focus on gender relations and related decision-making processes concerning the food system and household food security. Taking into account gender issues, the research is grounded in strong evidence for womens's critical role in the livelihood of rural families. Many studies across different developing countries show that, while men often control access and use of land, women tend to be in charge of substistence-oriented food production, preparation and household food security. Within an institutional regime framework, we will assess the influence of contract farming on local actors' configurations, strategies and decision-making within the lcoal food system, as well as the capacity of women and men to impact on household food security.
For the purposes of this project we will compare cases of contract farming in Ghana and Peru. While both countries experience high levels of food insecurity in rural areas and both governments have a keen interest in attracting foreign agricultural investment, the general social, cultural and economic structure is very different in the two countries. This choice of very different institutional settings will help us to test the general validity of our hypothesis. In both countries, we will focus on two large-scale agricultural investments that at least partly work through local outgrowers. We will conduct expert interviews with investors and other key informants (i.e. local chiefs and politicians), semi-structured interviews with a large sample of contract farmers (both women and men) and carry out gender-segregated focus group disucssions in each case study.
The research findings will serve the ongoing policy debate within many international organizations and NGO's on how to best guarantee rural people's livelihoods and food security within the context of contract farming, adding a highly important gender perspective to their deliberations.