Do metal grain silos benefit women in Kenya, Malawi, Zambia and Zimbabwe?
Metal silos can reduce maize losses during storage in smallholder farm systems, contributing towards international goals of reducing food waste and moving towards Sustainable Development Goal 2, Zero Hunger. However, technologies are introduced into farming systems with complex sets of relationships. These may differentially affect the ability of women and men to secure the expected benefits of metal silos. This, in turn, may affect adoption rates and expected outcomes. To better understand these relationships, a mixed methods study was conducted in Kenya, Malawi, Zimbabwe and Zambia where metal silos were introduced through the Effective Grain Storage Project (EGSP). EGSP distributed 1717 metal silos across the four countries. Quantitative surveys using random sampling were conducted in Kenya (124 respondents) and Malawi (100 respondents) with metal silo owners. Qualitative surveys, using purposive sampling, were conducted in all four countries covering 14 ethnic groups using focus group discussions (360 respondents), key informant interviews (62 respondents), and household case studies (62 respondents). The aim was to understand gendered post-harvest management and storage strategies in traditional systems and to map changes when metal silos were introduced. The findings suggest roles and responsibilities regarding the ownership and management of storage structures are strongly gendered with some differences between ethnic groups and countries. Men benefit more than women from the introduction of metal silos. Ownership of the grain storage facility, and the benefits attached to ownership, can switch from women to men with women having less scope for bargaining over their rights to use the stored grain for their own needs and the benefit of all household members. Women and men fail to fully follow guidelines for effective use of metal silos. They differ in their preferred attributes for their ideal storage system. Whilst some attributes are shared, women’s preferences were sharply differentiated from men in others.