Academic journal article Journal of International Women's Studies

Effects of Armed Conflict on Agricultural Markets and Post-Conflict Engagement of Women in Export-Led Agriculture in Nepal

Academic journal article Journal of International Women's Studies

Effects of Armed Conflict on Agricultural Markets and Post-Conflict Engagement of Women in Export-Led Agriculture in Nepal

Article excerpt

Introduction

Nepal faced a bloody armed insurgency waged by the United Communist party of Nepal (Maoist) [hereinafter referred to as the UCPN (M) (3)] for a decade (1996-2006). It ended after the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) between the government of Nepal and UCPN (M) in November 2006. Several scholars (Upreti & Muller-Boker 2010; Upreti et al. 2010a&b; Upreti 2009, 2006a&b) have examined the effects of the conflict on politics, society, the economy, and the women and children of Nepal. The agriculture market and work of women in the agricultural market were some of the sectors most significantly affected (WFP-FAO 2007; Ghale and Upreti 2005; Upreti 2006a; WFP 2004).

The main objectives of this study are a) to examine the effects of armed conflict on the agricultural market, and b) to analyse the state of women's engagement in high value agricultural exports and its role in market revival in the changing political landscape. In this context, this paper looks at questions of how the agriculture market was affected by the conflict, and how women farmers are reviving their engagement in highly value agriculture after the signing of the peace agreement (Upreti et al. 2010b).

Study area and methods

Study area

This paper is the result of data collected at two levels and during two different time periods to answer the questions related to its two objectives as stated above: 1) to examine the effects of armed conflict on the agricultural market, and 2) to analyse the state of women's engagement in high value agricultural exports and its role in market revival.

At the first level, the main author of this paper was engaged in a study of impacts of armed conflict in the agriculture market. For that, the primary data were collected in 2006-2007 from the Chitwan district (see map) because the agriculture market was severely affected in this area by the armed conflict. At the second level, data related to the second objective (to analyse the state of women's engagement in high value agricultural exports and its role in market revival) was collected from the ongoing 6 years of study (2014-2020) called titled 'Feminization, Agricultural Transition, and Rural Employment' (FATE) funded under the Research for Development funding scheme (R4D) of the Swiss National Science Foundation and the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation and coordinated by the Interdisciplinary Centre for Gender Studies (IZFG) and the Centre for Development and Environment, of the University of Bern and implemented in Nepal in collabouration with the Nepal Centre for Contemporary Research (NCCR). The Eastern Hills in general and the Ilam district in particular, are famous for growing cash crops such as cardamom, tea, broom grass, ginger and round chillies and women's engagement is said to be higher (DADO 2014). Hence, the data related to the second objective were collected from the cash crop-producing districts of the Eastern Hills, especially Fikkal, Ilam Bazaar, Chamaita, Nayabazar, Barbote and Jirmale of Ilam district (See Figure 2) and Phidim of Panchthar district (see Figure 3). Further, market related data was collected from the Birtamod Municipality of the Jhapa district of Nepal (Figure 4) which is the main hub for cardamom and ginger entrepreneurs and exporters.

Methods

Qualitative methods were used to collect data from the study sites. For the first objective (to examine the effects of armed conflict on the agricultural market), qualitative data were collected from the Chitwan district of central Nepal (See Figure 1) during the period between October-December 2006 by the main author only (4). In the qualitative data collection, in-depth interviews with 55 agriculture entrepreneurs and eight focus group discussions (FGDs) (five members in each FGD) were conducted in addition to the observations of the researcher. The specific questions asked in the in-depth interviews and the FGDs were related to: damage of physical infrastructure of the market, level of obstruction of local markets, effects on market price, extortion and collection of forced donations, and the security situation in local market areas. …

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