ISCO 2004 - 13th International Soil Conservation Organisation Conference – Brisbane, July 2004 Conserving Soil and Water for Society: Sharing Solutions
THE ROLE OF WOMEN IN LAND MANAGEMENT AND CONSERVATION - A CASE FROM THE MIDDLE-HILL REGION OF NEPAL
S.S. AryalA and M. ZoebischB A District Agriculture Development Office, Kathmandu, Nepal. B Asian Institute of Technology, Pathumthani, Thailand.
In smallholder farming, women play an important role and their contribution to the farm income is often disproportionately high. The study aimed to understand the role and perceptions of women farmers in land management and conservation, and to identify possible pathways for better ...view middle of the document...
Women in villages that are more easily accessible have generally a better understanding of modern technologies. These women also have better access to markets for better cash income, which -in turn- gives them more influence on farming decisions. Additional key words: awareness, caste, indigenous knowledge Introduction In the Middle-Hill region of Nepal, rural women contribute significantly to agriculture, especially on farms that depend on subsistence crops (Sontheimer et al., 1997; Bajracharya, 1994). Overall, about 65 percent of the labour force is provided by women (WFDD, 2002). The farmers in this region rely on indigenous land use practices, especially for the management of soil and water, and to control soil erosion (Tamang, 1992). Except for the ploughing, all other farming operations are manual (Ekop, 2001; Pandey, 1992). Agrochemicals are only used on a small scale. Livestock is a very important source of the families’ livelihoods, and manure is the main source of plant nutrients and organic matter for soil-fertility maintenance. Women provide the major share of the labour input to livestock rearing, including the transportation of manure and its’ spreading onto the fields. Their role is, hence, not only critical for their families’ livelihoods but also for the long-term maintenance of soil fertility and land productivity. Men are usually involved in the application of inorganic fertilizers and pesticides. They also do the construction and maintenance of terraces and irrigation canals (Tamang, 1992). Hence, men and women develop different skills and knowledge through the different tasks and roles they fulfill. They therefore have different knowledge about similar things (IFAD, 2004). But the use and development of knowledge varies not only between men and women but also among women. Contrary to the common belief that women are a homogenous group (Ekop, 2001), women’s participation in farming and other activities also differs according to the community to which they belong. Caste, age, education, family size and the position within the family are among many sociocultural factors identified as influencing women’s involvement in resource management (Bajracharya, 1994; UNDP, 2001). In Nepal, the management of and control over resources among women often varies between different ethnic groups, and even within the same ethnic group (Bajracharya, 1994). Limited access of women to services, such as education and extension, often leads to marked differences between men and women, e.g., in their perceptions, attitudes, awareness, and constraints (SEAGA, 1997). It is thus important to understand women’s roles – and their knowledge – in resource management, their perceptions of land management, and their constraints, because these parameters affect land productivity and the conservation of the resource base.
Paper No. 237
ISCO 2004 - 13th International Soil Conservation Organisation Conference – Brisbane, July 2004 Conserving Soil...