Gender equity in family farming business

Michael J. Ssali

What you need to know:

  • The position is made worse by the general lack of transparency with regard to how much cash is received from a family farming enterprise, how much is spent on inputs, wages, and actual family needs like clothing, school fees, and some conservations like what is kept for seed or food.

One of the biggest challenges in farming today is failure by most farming households to have concrete plans and well-thought-out budgets on which to base their farming activities.

The position is made worse by the general lack of transparency with regard to how much cash is received from a family farming enterprise, how much is spent on inputs, wages, and actual family needs like clothing, school fees, and some conservations like what is kept for seed or food.

Farmers ought to set targets and plans to follow in order to achieve their set objectives. Planning and budgeting involve taking decisions and, since they are about a family enterprise, there ought to be some democracy.

If it is only the husband or the wife who does all the planning and budgeting, the other members of the family may not give due support to some of the activities on the farm, which could result in failure to get the expected outcomes.

There ought to be open discussion involving both the husband and wife and the grown up children.  If a loan is to be taken the family members should have an idea about it and how it is expected to be paid.

Planning and budgeting together creates a sense of ownership over the family business as everyone feels responsible for the fulfillment of the business plan. Things work out better when all the members of the family have an idea how the proceeds are going to be spent. They all feel deprived when something is lost on the farm. They all easily understand when scarce family resources are allocated to the enterprise. No one feels cheated or deprived because they all agreed to the decisions. It is not likely that anyone of them will make a demand for an expenditure that was never budgeted for.

However, what usually happens when plans and decisions are made by only one individual in a household is a general feeling and suspicion among the family members that one of them could be taking a lion’s share, which may reduce their commitment to the development of the business.

Mr Michael Ssali is a veteran journalist,

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