"When He Comes Home, Then He Can Decide": Male Out-Migration, the Feminization of Agriculture, and Integrated Pest Management in the Nepali Mid-Hills
Spangler, Kaitlyn Anita
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As part of a USAID-funded integrated pest management (IPM) project, this thesis presents research conducted across four communities in midwestern Nepal We conducted semi-structured interviews, focus group discussions, and participant observation with local farmers and NGOs. Grounded in feminist political ecology (FPE) and drawing on the social relations approach (SRA), we sought to engage with the feminization of agriculture narrative and understand how it interacts with IPM practices and decision-making. This research responds to a growing interest within development in the feminization of agriculture as a potentially empowering or disempowering global process of change, conceptualized through the ways that male out-migration affects the labor and decision-making roles of women and other household members left behind on the farm. We find that contextual factors change the implications of the feminization of agriculture narrative. Co-residence with in-laws and varied migration patterns influence the dynamic nature of household structure and headship. Migration patterns have pushed women to take on new agricultural duties and manage increasing household labor responsibilities. Additionally, IPM vegetable cultivation is changing how farmers use and value their land through increasing crop diversification. Agricultural decision-making processes related to these different forces extend beyond the household, and participation in community spaces through the IPM project may contest traditional gender norms. We contend that the heterogeneity of household power dynamics muddies the potentially empowering or disempowering effects of the feminization of agriculture, and we emphasize the importance of community spaces as a locus of decision-making in the sustainability of new agricultural technologies.
- Masters Theses