As we get ready for the launch of our 2023 Women as IPM Leaders Webinar Series, Leandra Fernandes, reflects on what was shared in the 2022 series.
Our second webinar as part of our Gender and Agriculture webinar series held in late 2022 focused on the importance of understanding the roles and responsibilities of men and women farmers in banana production and disease management, as well as their access to training and knowledge. We were lucky enough to have experts from Nigeria and Burundi in Africa, and West Java in Indonesia.
Understanding the different roles of men and women farmers in each community
Francois Iradukunda from Bioversity International emphasized the importance of engaging men, women, and communities in banana production and disease management and highlighted some of the differences in thoughts and perceptions between men and women farmers in banana management in Burundi. For instance, in this location, bananas were traditionally seen as a "man's crop," while women preferred growing food crops like beans. This often-created tensions within households, as cash and food crops were intercropped on the same plot of land:
"Men accused women of damaging banana roots when tending to beans, while women accused men of trampling beans during banana activities."
Access to training and understanding communication and networking opportunities
Dr Favour Eforuoku a senior data analyst from the Red River College Polytechnic highlighted the gender disparities in training opportunities and access to agricultural inputs and knowledge. For example, Men farmers were observed to be benefiting from training in banana production and disease management and advisory services more than women farmers. Women were sometimes hindered from such opportunities due to household responsibilities and often only gained access to these services in the absence of their husbands. Favour also stressed the importance of raising awareness about the equitable sharing of networks and the transfer of seeds, which are crucial aspects to consider for sustainable banana disease management.
Different roles for women in banana farming in Indonesia
In contrast to the African context, banana farming was found to be a crop associated with women in Indonesia. Dr. Alia Bihrajihant from Universitas Gadjah Mada in Indonesia highlighted the significant role played by women in banana production. Her research showed that women farmers demonstrated higher knowledge levels in banana production and disease management and that women were also extracting value from all parts of the banana plant. They also actively participated in banana-based farmer groups and exhibited greater expertise in banana fusarium wilt management and other activities along the banana value chain. Conversely, men showed higher proficiency in manual tasks such as weeding, pruning, and caring for bunches.
The webinar highlighted that while banana is traditionally considered a man's crop in married households in Africa, a shift in roles and responsibilities is emerging, with women assuming more primary decision-making roles and displaying a growing interest in banana farming and pest management. This shift could potentially move towards the situation observed in Indonesia, where banana farming is regarded as a “woman's crop”. Furthermore, speakers emphasised that recognizing and addressing communication styles, roles, and responsibilities between genders is vital when designing and implementing IPM programs to ensure successful long-term change.
You can watch the webinar here. You will find the links to some of the studies covered in the webinar here:
We hope this discussion sparks further research and action to bridge the gender gap in sustainable agriculture and pave the way for inclusive and impactful IPM programs. This webinar was one of three in the 2022 Women as IPM Leaders Gender and Agriculture Webinar Series. The 2023 Women as IPM Leaders Webinar Series under the ASEAN FAW Action Plan starts soon! Find out more information and join us by going to https://www.aseanfawaction.org/women-as-ipm-leaders
The ASEAN FAW Action Plan would like to thank the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade for their generous support of this programme.
About the author
Leandra Fernandes enjoys working in the space of plant biosecurity, Integrated Pest Management and gender inclusivity. Outside of work, she is an avid reader and rock climber that loves the outdoors and hanging out with friends. You can connect with her on LinkedIn https://www.linkedin.com/in/leandra-fernandes-0b0615118/