The Dynamics and Role of Gender in High-value Avocado Farming in Kenya

We used two-waves panel data obtained from avocado growers in Murang’a County in Kenya to examine, through the perspective of gender, the dynamics of farmers’ participation in avocado production and marketing organizations (PMOs), and test whether understanding group dynamics is important for analyzing contract farming. Using a multinomial logit model, we identify the characteristics of men and women participation in PMOs categorized as early adopters, dis-adopters, late adopters, and nonadopters. We focus on dis-adopters and late adopters because these categories are most often ignored in the literature. Moreover, without considering the dynamics, we verify the influencing factors of PMOs by estimating a random-effects logit model that controls for unobserved heterogeneity across households. Furthermore, we estimate a sequential-choice model to test whether the process of selection into group membership affects the process of selection into contracting. Our results reveal heterogeneity with regard to household, farm, and resource characteristics across categories of farmers and between gender groups. Moreover, the results reveal that group and contracting dynamics are related, and ignoring the former leads to biased estimates of the determinants of contracting dynamics. Policy efforts should focus on supporting women farmers to enhance their participation in PMOs, which ultimately has an effect on contracting. Improving access to high-yielding avocado varieties and building capacity in orchard management would enhance women’s decision-making including group participation, contracting, and marketing. Low-cost agricultural credit may also improve women’s ownership of improved avocado trees and hence their participation in high-value markets. These efforts are equally important for men who farm avocados.