Women-Led Pulse Agriculture for Enhanced Household Nutrition Security in East African Countries

  •  Nigatu Regassa Geda    
  •  Matthew G. Nosworthy    
  •  Robert Tyler    
  •  Carol J. Henry    


Pulse crops are significant sources of starch, fiber, protein and micronutrients for the human population. Four East African countries (Ethiopia, Tanzania, Uganda, and Rwanda) have huge potential of pulse production but are constrained by several challenges in the production-consumption chain. This scoping review has assessed the challenges and opportunities related to women-led, nutrition-sensitive pulse agriculture in the four East African countries. This scoping review is based on data from major scientific databases, such as PubMed, Scopus, and Web of Science, which are commonly used for research purposes, as well as grey literature. The criteria used were studies conducted in Ethiopia, Tanzania, Uganda, or Rwanda; grey literature which includes reports, theses, and other unpublished materials that may be relevant to a particular topic (years 2010 to 2023); observational studies, including case-control, cohort, and cross-sectional studies that assessed pulse crop production and consumption; and those published in English. Evidence from these countries shows that the historical gender gap and low level of participation by women in the sector have had adverse effects on the production of pulses. There are also social and cultural barriers that severely constrain women’s role in pulse agriculture, such as poor knowledge of the benefits of pulses, constraining cultural practice and gender-based norms in the pulse sector, limited access to market, land and finance, underdeveloped delivery/supply chain and extension services, less developed value addition culture, and the stigma of pulse consumption. This study identifies multiple avenues to ameliorate the identified socioeconomic, cultural and policy constraints, including promoting women-led pulse production through increasing access to financing for small-scale pulse crop farmers, improving market access through better marketing and distribution networks, and investing in infrastructure to support pulse production and consumption.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.