Knowledge and application gaps exist for women farmers in Sub-Saharan Africa who are key agricultural players for economic growth and food security. This study examined capacity development for Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) measures and empowerment of women farmers considering Rappaport (1984) and Zimmerman’s (1995, 2000) lenses of empowerment theory. The central research question was, how does capacity development for sanitary and phytosanitary measures empower women at the individual, organizational, and community levels in Sub-Saharan Africa? The study employed an embedded mixed methods design collecting data via an electronic survey from 23 Sub-Saharan women farmers; 22 from Ghana and one from Nigeria. Findings showed optimism about the future of farming and individual ability for success, notwithstanding male support. The participating women farmers expressed variations in perceived support from men, the government, and policies associated with food safety and farming. Cultural influences including gender and family dynamics did not show significant variation in responses. These women reported scarce use of technology as a resource and expressed preference for learning from other women farmers. Qualitative data revealed 20 themes grouped into four key areas: farming motivations, individual empowerment; food safety; and effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. The most common themes focused on personal agency as well as barriers to needed resources. These farmers did not express any specific impact of the pandemic on their own individual farming activities nor significant negative influence from cultural or family norms. Knowledge of SPS measures specifically were absent for these woman farmers although food safety importance was evident. Study conclusions were that the SPS measures/food safety education program as currently available does not benefit women. Second, individual empowerment is present among these women farmers despite limited support, and they have optimism for the future of their farms. Recommendations include increasing community mentoring programs and further development of technology access along with training to emphasize the value for gaining access to support and ensuring food safety. Increased visibility of community and government officials could help promote trust and support the adoption of innovative strategies for ensuring food safety and economic opportunities for future women farmers.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Women farmers--Africa, Sub-Saharan; Community development--Africa, Sub-Saharan

Date of Award


School Affiliation

Graduate School of Education and Psychology



Degree Type


Degree Name


Faculty Advisor

Kay Davis