Agricultural technologies to reduce the workload of female cashew farmers

Sustainable agriculture, Entrepreneurial ecosystems
Swisscontact studied gender gaps in the cashew value chain in Honduras in order to empower women in agriculture and improve their livelihoods. Thanks to the introduction of new technologies, 60 female cashew farmers in the south of the country were able to reduce their heavy workload tending to their plots and make better use of their time.

In southern Honduras, cashew nut cultivation is the main source of income for many families. The women are responsible for maintaining the cultivated land as well as household tasks and childcare. The abundance of tasks often limits their ability to generate income.

An imbalance in the workload of women and men

As part of the project "New Market Opportunities through Efficient Production in the Gulf of Fonseca" funded by Global Affairs Canada, Swisscontact conducted a study on the Women's Empowerment in Agriculture Index (WEAI) in cooperation with the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT). This indicator measures gender gaps and women's participation in decision-making processes, their membership in groups and other indicators. The study revealed a gender imbalance in workload, i.e. women farmers spend more time on agricultural and household-related activities than their male counterparts.

New equipment makes work easier for women farmers

To close this gender gap, the project provided women cashew farmers with agricultural implements for tending their plots to reduce their time and workload. These included weed cutters, electric pumps for crop spraying, saws and handcarts to facilitate the transport of heavy equipment and crops. 

The introduction of technical equipment made it easier for women to do agricultural work. This also reduced their working time in tending the land and they earned a higher income from their services.

Since the pilot project began, there are signs that point to a change in traditional gender roles and greater trust in women; much more often today, it is they who decide what to do with the money generated by the services.

"I have already made some extra money from the services I have provided working with the mower because it is a very practical machine that is easy to operate. In addition to household chores, I have a grocery store and now I am the president of a rural savings bank. These machines have made it easier for me to dedicate my time to other activities that I want and can do."
Hilda Betancourth Cashew nut producer in El Triunfo
"The pruner, the mower and the wheelbarrow have helped me because when I used to take care of the plot I started with a machete and it took me up to a week to clean it, now with the machine it only takes me two days. Now I can work, I go to my job, come back at 3 o'clock and go to the plot, before I didn't have this time, I had to be in the plot all the time. This equipment has saved me time."
Elcy Méndez Cashew producer in Namasigüe
Entrepreneurial ecosystems, Sustainable tourism
Rural Market Opportunities in the Gulf of Fonseca
The Dry Corridor is one of the most impoverished and economically depressed areas of Honduras. Here, 65% of households live below the poverty line, while 48% are extremely poor and experience high rates of malnutrition and other negative social consequences. Commercial agriculture for export is the main source of seasonal jobs for poor people,...