The success of the agricultural economy in many developing countries is challenged, mainly because women who represent a crucial resource are largely constrained in the access to productive resources Researchers have demonstrated that cultural norms and values strongly influence access to productive resources. Development agencies in response to productive constraints provide programmes to improve rural livelihoods. The outcomes of these projects are however not always successful. The study sought to explain how agricultural production relations shape gendered responses to rural livelihood interventions in the Sunyani Municipality. The study adopted the qualitative research approach and specifically, the explanatory design. The purposive sampling technique was used to select respondents for focus group discussions, in-depth and key person interviews. The secondary data was analysed using gender analytical tools from the Moser Framework and the Social Relations Approach. The primary data was thematically analysed. The study found that men as household heads structurally controlled production relations and therefore had better access and control than women. All but one of the selected interventions was gender aware. Responses to interventions were gendered with men inclined to crop related interventions and the women, to those offering off-farm livelihood diversification. The study concluded that production relations affected the nature of responses to any intervention. It recommended that interventions should be planned in view of contextual production relations so as to address relations between men and women. Women farmers should also endeavour to form farmer groups to develop their agency.

Agricultural Production Relations influence access to productive resources (Carr & McCusker, 2009), often leaving rural women disadvantaged. In response, various development agencies have provided policies to better the livelihoods, specifically for women owing to the key roles they play in agricultural production. However, the decision to participate in an intervention is informed by the ownership and control of productive resources emerging from existing production relations. According to Ajadi, Oladele, Ikegami and Tsuruta (2015), social norms and values inform the relations that moderate the role and livelihood activities of both women and men, as well as their access to land and other productive resources. Distinct social ascriptions for women, in addition, influence their decisions to adopt agricultural interventions as alternatives to their livelihood strategies. These social ascriptions, according to Marxists, inform how individuals relate to the means of production (Berbeshkina, Yakovleva, & Zerkin, 1985).

There exists literature on the various constituents of production relations (access to, control over ownership of and decisions regarding productive resources) and theirm resulting constraints (Umeh, Chwuku, & Oselebe, 2015; Ajadi, Oladele, Ikegami, & Tsuruta, 2015; Carr & McCusker, 2009). Such literature discusses the constituents independently in relation to responses to interventions. Studies rarely attempt to aggregate these individual constituents as a total unit for examination. However, experience shows that the various components are highly interdependent, making an examination of production relations and how they shape differences in responses to livelihood interventions an important exercise.

Background to the Study
Agriculture is vital for comprehensive development because it produces food, as well as provides economic wealth for many of the world’s poorest people. According to the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) (2006), wealth produced from agricultural activities can be utilised in investing in improvement to education, healthcare, infrastructure and environmentally sound practices. The success of the agricultural economy in many developing countries is challenged, mainly because women who represent a crucial resource in this economy are largely constrained as far as access to productive resources is concerned (Team & Doss, 2011).

Women, relative to men, make essential contributions to the agricultural and rural economies in all developing countries (Okali, 2011). Their roles differ significantly between and within regions, and are changing rapidly in many parts of the world, where economic and social forces are transforming the agricultural economy. They are, however, over represented in unpaid, seasonal and part-time agricultural work. Available data on rural and agricultural feminization shows that this situation is more pronounced in sub-Saharan Africa (Team & Doss, 2011).

Rural women in Sub-Saharan Africa often manage more complex households and pursue multiple livelihood strategies as compared to rural men. Their activities typically include producing agricultural crops, tending animals, processing and preparing food, working for wages in agricultural or other rural enterprises, collecting fuel and water, engaging in trade and marketing, caring for family members and maintaining their homes (Doss & Morris, 2011). Regarding labour for food production, women in the Sub Sahara contribute between 60 and 80 percent, both for household consumption and for sale. Furthermore, subsistent agriculture is becoming a predominantly female sector activity as a consequence of faster male out-migration and predominance of unskilled labour (FAO, 1998). Women now constitute the majority of smallholder farmers, providing most of the labour and managing a large part of the farming activities on a daily basis (Diao, 2010).

Researchers argue that the contribution made by women is considered an effective engine for social change in sub-Saharan Africa (Dobermann, Nelson, Beever, Bergvinson, Crowley, Denning, Lynam, 2013). This view underlies the need to focus on gendered productivity. Despite women’s significant role in farming and post-harvest activities in most countries in the region, the varied set of social and cultural norms prevailing within rural communities dictate the division of labour between women and men. According to Mullaney (2012), an understanding of women farmers' role, their importance and their constraints are prerequisites to devising policies that would improve productivity and socioeconomic development.

The 1995 World Conference on women, popularly known as the Beijing Conference, proposed gender mainstreaming as the policy strategy of the future to transform social and institutional structures in order to make them more gender responsive and improve their beneficial outcomes (Sachs & Alston, 2010). This was meant to avoid treating women as victims of circumstance and rather regards them as agents, responding to the constraints of their circumstances. What this meant was that policies were not to just focus on women’s participation and perceived challenges but to acknowledge their needs and their positions in the production system. This clearly indicates that if the position of women in the farm household is not correctly analysed, development policies will continue to have unintended, negative outcomes. Production relations are vital to the understanding of women’s positions within the farm households and should be clearly analysed in order to plan for women's integration into the development process. 

In Ghana, the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MOFA) (2007) states that agriculture is predominantly practised on smallholder, family-operated farms, using rudimentary technology to produce about 80 percent of the country’s total agricultural output. It is estimated that about 2.74 million households operate a farm or keep livestock only (Ghana Statistical Service (GSS), 2012). Agriculture is also a critical sector for women as nearly half (48.7%) of the total female population are self-employed in agriculture, with the majority being engaged in food production (GSS, 2014). A majority of Ghanaian women in agriculture have limited access to productive resources such as land, labour and capital due to cultural and institutional factors. Allodia rights, which are the ultimate right to land in Ghana are mainly (78%) controlled by clans and family heads as well as land priests who are predominantly males (Bugri, Yeboah, & Agana, 2016).

According to Quisumbing, Otsuka, Suyanto, Aidoo and Payongayong, as cited by Britwum, Tsikata, Akorsu, & Aberese (2014), access to land is often restricted to usufruct rights only. Women cannot provide collateral for credit because they may not have legal ownership of tangible assets. Their reproductive roles, which are usually defined by culture, interfere with their productive roles. In the absence of the financial capability to hire labour, women also suffer a labour deficit. In many regions, men may pose roadblocks to women earning and controlling higher incomes. Due to their lack of visibility as farmers as well as other social constraints, development interveners usually miss women, even when policies are targeting gender issues (Escobar, 1995). Some projects have, however, sought to incorporate men in order to mitigate tensions between men and women as well as produce more sustainable results for women (Dobermann, et al., 2013).

In the Sunyani Municipality, agriculture remains a main source of livelihood for a majority of households, due to the rich soil and favourable climatic conditions. This is gradually being taken over by the service economy leading to diversification of the local economy. Despite this trend, GSS (2014) reports that as high as 34.3 percent of households in the municipality are engaged in agriculture. In the rural localities, eight out of every ten households, making up 72.2 percent of the total population, are agricultural households, while in the urban localities; the proportion is 28.0 percent of households. Women in the Sunyani Municipality dominate in the agricultural economy, as is characteristic throughout the nation, however, their productivity is constrained by cultural factors (GSS, 2012).

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Item Type: Ghanaian Topic  |  Size: 158 pages  |  Chapters: 1-5
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