Agriculture and Human Values

, Volume 32, Issue 4, pp 761–775 | Cite as

Mapping gendered pest management knowledge, practices, and pesticide exposure pathways in Ghana and Mali

  • Maria Elisa Christie
  • Emily Van Houweling
  • Laura Zseleczky


Global food security challenges demand an understanding of farmers’ gendered practices and perspectives. This research draws on data from a quantitative survey and qualitative methods to explore gender differences related to farmers’ practices, perceptions, and knowledge of pesticides and other pest management practices in tomato growing regions of Ghana and Mali. A pathways approach based on participatory mapping integrates findings and reveals gender differences in labor and knowledge at different stages of tomato production. Farmers in both countries are heavily reliant on pesticides, but there are also differences in pest management knowledge and practices between them. In Mali, farmers are more familiar with Integrated Pest Management (IPM) practices, but less aware of potential health risks of pesticides and more likely to engage in dangerous agro-chemical practices. In both countries, women are significantly less aware of pesticide dangers and IPM techniques than men and exposed to pesticides though a variety of pathways. We argue that the gender division of labor and differences in access to resources, information, and power between the two sites leads to gendered pesticide exposure pathways that are often unseen by the biological scientists who tend to focus on the field. Gender inequalities in knowledge and unsafe practices were particularly apparent in Mali compared to Ghana, possibly due to the lower literacy rates and decision making power of women and their narrower range of involvement in tomato production. The article concludes with gender sensitive recommendations to improve IPM research methods, trainings, and technology diffusion.


Gender Pesticides Integrated Pest Management (IPM) Participatory mapping 



Crops Research Institute


Food and Agriculture Organization


Focus group discussion


Institut d’Économie Rurale


Integrated Pest Management


United States Agency for International Development


World Health Organization



This research was made possible by the Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Collaborative Research on Integrated Pest Management (the IPM Innovation Lab) funded by the United States Agency for International Development under cooperative agreement No. EPP-A-00-04-00016-00. The opinions expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of USAID. We would like to thank Mah Koné Diallo of the Office de la Haute Vallée du Niger (OHVN), Mali, Joyce Haleegoah and Awere Dankyi of Crops Research Institute in Ghana, for assistance in this research, and Virginia Tech graduate Rachel Kirk for help processing the data from Mali. Figure two is an inset from an image originally published in Gender Technology and Development, Vol. 18 No. 2 Copyright 2014 © Asian Institute of Technology. All rights reserved. Reproduced with the permission of the copyright holders and the publishers, Sage Publications India Pvt. Ltd, New Delhi.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Maria Elisa Christie
    • 1
  • Emily Van Houweling
    • 1
  • Laura Zseleczky
    • 2
  1. 1.Office of International Research, Education, and DevelopmentVirginia TechBlacksburgUSA
  2. 2.International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI)WashingtonUSA

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