Gendered implications for agricultural labor in the mid-hills of Nepal with the introduction of conservation agriculture practices
Tamang, Bishal B.
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The effect of gender-based labor on the success of agricultural development interventions is largely understudied. In this research, the gender distribution of labor and the potential shifts of labor distribution with the introduction of conservation agriculture (CA) are considered to determine possible barriers to adoption at the community level. Individual households were surveyed in three tribal communities in the central mid-hills of Nepal to conduct an activities analysis by gender. Three major crops were the focus of the survey: maize, millet, and legumes. The survey assessed the labor hours spent in five categories of cultivation: plowing, fertilizer application, sowing/transplant, weeding, and harvest. Field experiments were also conducted to measure the labor shifts from the introduction of two CA practices, intercropping and minimum tillage. The data was analyzed to determine the percent change in labor from shifting farmer practices to the two CA practices. Results showed an overall detrimental effect in percent change of labor for women, with an increase in total labor demands; however, the analysis highlights the optimal CA options in terms of beneficial changes to labor demands for each cultivation activity. Nevertheless, utilizing a minimum tillage practice along with leguminous intercropping of millet proved to reduce the labor disparity between the genders. Identifying such labor shifts can be crucial to improve development approaches for long-term adoption of new practices and the framework provided can be applied to similar farming systems.