Agriculture and Human Values

, Volume 34, Issue 2, pp 347–362 | Cite as

Conservation agriculture and gendered livelihoods in Northwestern Cambodia: decision-making, space and access

  • Daniel Sumner
  • Maria Elisa Christie
  • Stéphane Boulakia
Article

Abstract

Smallholder farmers in Rattanakmondol District, Battambang Province, Cambodia face challenges related to soil erosion, declining yields, climate change, and unsustainable tillage-based farming practices in their efforts to increase food production within maize-based systems. In 2010, research for development programs began introducing agricultural production systems based on conservation agriculture (CA) to smallholder farmers located in four communities within Rattanakmondol District as a pathway for addressing these issues. Understanding gendered practices and perspectives is integral to adapting CA technologies to the needs of local communities. This research identifies how gender differences regarding farmers’ access to assets, practices, and engagement in intra-household negotiations could constrain or facilitate the dissemination of CA. Our mixed-methods approach includes focus group discussions, semi-structured interviews, famer field visits, and a household survey. Gender differences in access to key productive assets may affect men’s and women’s individual ability to adapt CA. Farmers perceive the practices and technologies of CA as labor-saving, with the potential to reduce men’s and women’s labor burden in land-preparation activities. However, when considered in relation to the full array of productive and reproductive livelihood activities, CA can disproportionately affect men’s and women’s labor. Decisions about agricultural livelihoods were not always made jointly, with socio-cultural norms and responsibilities structuring an individual’s ability to participate in intra-household negotiations. While gender differences in power relations affect intra-household decision-making, men and women household members collectively negotiate the transition to CA-based production systems.

Keywords

Gender Livelihoods Conservation agriculture Decision-making Cambodia 

Abbreviations

CA

Conservation agriculture

CIRAD

Centre de Coopération International en Recherche pour le Développement

DMC

Direct-seeding mulch based cropping systems

FGD

Focus group discussion

FPE

Feminist political ecology

KHR

Cambodian Riel

KR

Khmer Rouge

MAFF

Ministry of Agriculture Forestry and Fishers

MFI

Micro-finance institution

OIRED

Office of International Research, Education and Development

PADAC

Projet d’Appui à la Diversification Agricole du Cambodge

SANREM IL

Sustainable Agriculture and Natural Resource Management Innovation Lab

USAID

United States Agency for International Development

WEAI

Women’s Empowerment in Agriculture Index

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Daniel Sumner
    • 1
  • Maria Elisa Christie
    • 1
  • Stéphane Boulakia
    • 2
  1. 1.Office of International Research, Education and DevelopmentVirginia TechBlacksburgUSA
  2. 2.Centre de Coopération International en Recherche Agronomique pour le DéveloppementIbagueColombia

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