Do women in rural Ghana prefer non-farm enterprises over agriculture for economic empowerment?

From February 1 to February 8, Isabel Lambrecht, Sarah Asare and Doreen Selorm Kufualor (IFPRI, Accra) and Berber Kramer (IFPRI, Washington DC) conducted Focus Group Discussions (FGDs) in the Western and Northern Regions of Ghana. The goal of the FGDs was to learn more about preferences for economic empowerment in agriculture versus non-farm enterprises (NFEs). There has been a strong emphasis on women’s empowerment in agriculture, yet qualitative interviews suggest that both men and women in rural areas prefer women to be engaged in off-farm income-generating activities rather than farming. The FGDs replicated this result, and also highlighted a number of explanations for why rural households prefer NFEs as a pathway to economic empowerment.

 These insights will help design an incentivized framed field experiment in which men and women are asked to allocate start-up capital between investments in agriculture versus business. The experiment will quantify preferences for empowerment in agriculture versus NFEs and analyze which attributes of the two types of income-generating activities drive these results. The experiment will study whether men and women differ in these preferences, how this gap can be explained, and whether husbands and wives allocate start-up capital for themselves differently compared to allocations for their spouse.