Gender roles in production and marketing within the vegetable-agroforestry system in Bukidnon
To promote sustainable land use in the Manupali Watershed in Bukidnon, upland farmers adopted the practice of agroforestry on mountain slopes. However, the introduction of commercially viable cash crops particularly vegetables has encouraged the integration of monoculture gardens in agroforestry and dotted the landscape with vegetable-agroforestry (VAF) systems. This paper discusses selected findings from an ongoing collaborative study on the VAF system that seeks, among other goals, to investigate how linkages between small upland farmers and the markets can serve as a major driver of sustainable agroforestry and eventually lead to the betterment of the farmers' socioeconomic situation. Initial findings reveal the importance of gender considerations in linking farmers to markets. In spite of growing modernization influences, the productive and market roles of women and men heads of farm households are distinct and gender-differentiated, vary by crop, but reflect a persistently traditional pattern. Although conjugal partners share in much of the activities relating to vegetable production, the men who still assume the lead role handle the heavier or more laborious tasks, while their wives are responsible for less strenuous work but figure prominently in marketing vegetable commodities either on-farm or at the marketplace. In growing trees, women may help in tree crop maintenance but timber marketing is a male domain. While gender roles should guide any endeavor to develop VAF enterprises, it is evident that vegetable-related enterprises will most likely impact positively and directly on upland farm women.