Improving intrahousehold cooperation for efficient smallholder farming. A field experiment in central Uganda
Does increased cooperation between spouses in agricultural households lead to more efficient farming? This working paper describes an experiment in Uganda in which were given either couple seminars or randomly encouraged for an intensive coaching package or did not receive any treatment. First, the experiment found that intensively coached couples did better on joint management of food crops and cash crops than couples in the couple seminars group. Secondly, they were more likely to change towards more food security by growing crops with a more reliable harvest. Thirdly, intensive coached couples tended to adopt more sustainable and efficient farming practices for cash crops such as coffee as compared to the group without treatment. Fourthly, the intensive coaching resulted in a higher income from livestock as compared to the group without treatment; and while coffee income generally decreased over time, it decreases less among the intensively coached couples than among the couple seminar group. Fifthly, couples who received couple seminars bought or acquired more land than the group without treatment. And finally, couples from both the intensively coached and couple seminars groups reported they perceived their economic wellbeing as higher than couples who did not receive any treatment. Women seem to have particularly benefited in terms of being better informed about the household income – which will help for their intrahousehold bargaining power – and in terms of subjective wellbeing and household food security. There is still little evidence of positive impact on household income or asset accumulation, but it may have been too soon for such impact to realise.