Focusing on Women Peanut Farmers

From MFK Agriculture Research and Extension Program Specialist, Ben Wiseman

In north-east Haiti, the tasks of peanut cultivation are often segregated by gender.  End-of-season production tasks such as peanut harvesting, drying, transporting, and selling are most often women’s tasks. These same tasks are also high-risk points for aflatoxin contamination, so the performance of women peanut farmers in these end-of-season tasks is critical to maintaining low aflatoxin levels in peanuts.

The MFK agriculture department is implementing a gender study in three rural peanut farming communities to better understand the context of women peanut farmers.  The goal is to characterize the priorities and challenges women farmers face in order to develop gender-aware intervention strategies for reducing aflatoxin contamination during peanut cultivation and storage.  The gender survey is a component of a larger aflatoxin control study being conducted in partnership with Laval University in Canada with the aid of a grant from the International Development Research Centre (IDRC).  MFK collaborated with a Haitian gender specialist and faculty from Laval University to develop the survey.  In April MFK’s agronomy staff and temporary student workers collected survey data.

Data analysis of the surveys will begin in May.  One anecdotal outcome of the survey is the importance of peanut sales for the farmer’s household.  Women throughout the three rural communities told surveyors that income from peanut sales is used to pay for their children’s school, to pay for inventory for in-home businesses, and to seek health care for the family.  Thus, working with peanut farmers not only holds potential to reduce aflatoxin contamination in peanuts, but also to strengthen the economic foundation of farming families.

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This work was carried out with the aid of a grant from the International Development Research Centre, Ottawa, Canada.  The views expressed herein do not necessarily represent those of IDRC or its Board of Governors neither of Université Laval.