Conservation agriculture and gendered livelihoods in Northwestern Cambodia: decision-making, space and access

Agriculture and Human Values 34 (2):347-362 (2017)

Smallholder farmers in Rattanakmondol District, Battambang Province, Cambodia face challenges related to soil erosion, declining yields, climate change, and unsustainable tillage-based farming practices in their efforts to increase food production within maize-based systems. In 2010, research for development programs began introducing agricultural production systems based on conservation agriculture to smallholder farmers located in four communities within Rattanakmondol District as a pathway for addressing these issues. Understanding gendered practices and perspectives is integral to adapting CA technologies to the needs of local communities. This research identifies how gender differences regarding farmers’ access to assets, practices, and engagement in intra-household negotiations could constrain or facilitate the dissemination of CA. Our mixed-methods approach includes focus group discussions, semi-structured interviews, famer field visits, and a household survey. Gender differences in access to key productive assets may affect men’s and women’s individual ability to adapt CA. Farmers perceive the practices and technologies of CA as labor-saving, with the potential to reduce men’s and women’s labor burden in land-preparation activities. However, when considered in relation to the full array of productive and reproductive livelihood activities, CA can disproportionately affect men’s and women’s labor. Decisions about agricultural livelihoods were not always made jointly, with socio-cultural norms and responsibilities structuring an individual’s ability to participate in intra-household negotiations. While gender differences in power relations affect intra-household decision-making, men and women household members collectively negotiate the transition to CA-based production systems.
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DOI 10.1007/s10460-016-9718-z
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