Gender and Soil Knowledge: Linking Farmers' Perceptions of Soils with Fertility Analysis in the Philippines
Christie Harman, M. M. E.
Mulvaney, Michael J.
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This presentation discusses the integration of gendered soil knowledge and scientific soil knowledge based on fieldwork in the Philippines. Qualitative methods were used to understand men's and women's soil knowledge as part of a soils conservation project. Quantitative methods such as soil sampling and analysis, and ANOVA were used in combination with the local information to determine statistical differences in the soil fertility between the men's and women's 'best' and 'worst' soils. We found that men and women did choose 'best' soils that had greater fertility than the 'worst' soils. However,there were no significant differences in fertility between the men's and women's chosen soil regarding gender. In other words, mens' soils were not more fertile than womens' and vice verse. This is significant since women were perceived to not have any knowledge of soil and fertility. The authors argue that while men's and women's knowledge of soil fertility was supported by the fertility analysis, men and women chose their soils using different experiences and knowledge of soil interactions. Men based much of their soil knowledge on direct interactions such as tilling while women based their soil knowledge from indirect interactions such as harvesting and marketing. This has important, gendered implications for how extension agents communicate soil conservation management. The authors recommend a closing of the gap between the soil sampling and the ethnographic methods when it comes to collaboration between soils scientists, extension agents, and farmers.