Community and household structure and resource dynamics drive the resource allocation choices that influence peanut production potential and consumption demands for peanuts. Gender differentiated intra-household and inter-sector resource dynamics, in the defined socio-cultural context should be investigated to guide technology development efforts and to design peanut product and by-product utilization. Among the household types disaggregated by gender, an important sub-group is the female headed households. Both in Zambia and Malawi, there is an increased participation of women in small holder farming which is attributed to male migration (Milimo, 1991; Saito et al 1994; and Spring 1986). Yet, female-headed households face unique constraints and opportunities in smallholder production which needs to be documented as relevant to the peanut sub-sector.
It is essential to isolate gender differentiated opportunities and constraints relevant to adoption and profitable use of peanut technology and to improve household economic returns from peanut crop production. There is a lack of an organized source of information available on the role of women in the peanut sub-sector to guide effective interventions. A need exists to address this perspective. Hence, a primary effort will be directed to develop a book on this topic centered on soft systems model to provide an holistic view of the production and consumption systems dynamics.
Furthermore, a soft system model can describe socio-economic forces operative within the family/household and the interactions with communal and market systems that impact on peanut production, organization, and output potential. The soft system model developed will be validated with existing information and field data initially from selected Southern African countries, namely Malawi and Zambia. A holistic organization and analysis of gender disaggregated knowledge of household and community level socio-economic forces driving the peanut systems, will provide information to the Peanut CRSP agricultural scientists to discern the interactive impacts influencing peanut production systems. A broader comprehension of the context of production will result in efforts to generate peanut production technologies that have a good fit with adoption conditions and to design sustainable technology transfer interventions. Such efforts will result in increased contribution of the peanut to improve food security and economic returns among the farm households. As a complimentary component of the soft system model, quantitative economic models will be tested using a sample of female-headed households in selected Southern African countries, namely Malawi and Zambia. The economic model will add to the Peanut CRSP’s global research agenda of defining the socio-economic context of technology use and adoption. Both the soft system and economic approaches to learn about socioeconomic forces are applicable to peanut system research in other countries