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Horticulture value chain to improve outlook for Honduran women

  • Horticulture value chain to improve outlook for Honduran women

    by Market Insider

    Thursday, 05 Mar. 2015

    Impoverished families in western Honduras stand to benefit from a new project aimed at improving access to markets for high-value horticultural crops. Researchers in the Penn State's College of Agricultural Sciences have received a nearly USD 1,4 million grant to perform a gender-based analysis of the Honduran horticultural value chain with an eye toward reducing barriers to participation for women and other marginalized groups while enhancing family income and nutrition.

    Honduras is one of the poorest countries in Latin America and the western highlands area is among the poorest regions of the country; it's a remote area with limited roads and infrastructure where many people are subsistence farmers who work on very small parcels of land with high levels of malnutrition and low levels of education and literacy.

    The market for horticultural crops can be an avenue for reducing poverty in developing countries because these products have greater potential for added value, are labor intensive and often bring higher prices; growing fruits and vegetables can also lead to healthier and more diverse diets for small-scale farmers but many families - and particularly women - face barriers to participating in this sector of the agricultural economy.

    The idea is then to raise incomes with a focus on women because they often have limited access to resources (such as land, inputs, technical assistance and credit) and face cultural barriers to being active in the horticultural value chain; in addition, there is a high rate of migration in some of the mentioned regions as men move to urban areas to find work, leaving many female-headed households.

    Increasing women's participation in the horticultural economy would empower enhancing the health and well-being of their families: research has shown that when women's incomes rise, the additional resources often go toward purchases that improve children's nutrition, education and overall well-being.

    By surveying households and conducting focus groups across the horticultural value chain, the researchers will learn what crops households currently are growing, the roles women are playing in the various types of agricultural production, their access to resources and their involvement in marketing channels such as cooperatives that can help growers achieve higher prices. They also will identify policies, regulations and cultural norms that limit the participation of women and other marginalized groups.

    The research team will partner with local non-governmental organizations, microfinance institutions and women's groups to develop training, technologies and financial tools to be delivered to producers, private enterprises and educators and will facilitate participants in the identification of areas where women can enter the value chain - whether it's at the production stage or as wage labourers in processing, marketing or other roles - helping lowering the hurdles to the participation of women in horticultural markets.

    The funding was awarded by the Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Collaborative Research on Horticulture based at the University of California, Davis and the program is supported by the U.S. Agency for International Development as part of Feed the Future, the U.S. government's global hunger and food security initiative.

    Source: Penn State News

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