Women Farmers and Commercial Ventures: Increasing Food Security in Developing Countries

By Anita Spring | Go to book overview

Preface

Women and subsistence crops, women's crops. It's natural. It's an ideology based on both the stereotypes and the reality of the ages, but it's too simplistic in the modern context.

This book began as a session organized for the Culture and Agriculture Section of an American Anthropological Association meeting, titled “Agricultural Commercialization: Its Positive Effects on Women Farmers. ” At the meeting and during the following year of trying to convince scholars to write additional chapters for the volume, the contributors and audience—for the most part—approved of the topic. But some contributors and scholars debated whether there could be any positive effects of commercial endeavors on women. They said their data only showed that commercial endeavors harmed women or that women did not participate in such ventures on their own.

My original intention of pulling together case studies was the result of some experiences in Kenya. I had been schooled in the Boserupian tenets of women in development (WID). I was a devotee of Boserup's female and male systems of farming (Spring 1995; see the references cited in Chapter 1 for citations) and a believer in her notion that the development process usually harms or overlooks women farmers and that men often garner the development “goodies” (land, capital, technology, project services, and so on) for themselves and restrict women's access. I wrote extensively on this subject for more than twenty years concerning cases where this happened in Botswana, Cameroon, Ethiopia, Malawi, Somalia, Swaziland, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Jamaica, and the United States, based on personal fieldwork, and about other countries and continents based on the literature. I monitored these events and tried to overcome them with policy changes and project programming in countries in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean, and the Near East that I supervised as chief of the Women in

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