Feminisation, agricultural transition and rural employment (FATE)

Background: Agriculture is by far the most important source of income for rural households in the poorer regions of the globe. It remains a primary engine of rural development and growth, building resilience and livelihoods and providing a critical route out of poverty. Nevertheless, agriculture in the global South is also viewed as underperforming. There have been demands for more capital-intensive commercial agriculture to promote forms of employment that can generate higher returns. Non-traditional agricultural exports such as delicate spices (ginger, cardamom) or nutritious grains (quinoa) have been a response to these demands, creating wage labour and stimulating high levels of – notably – female employment in rural areas. Aim: The developmental impacts and the implications of an increased commercialisation of agriculture are the subject of FATE. The project will analyse the premises of the supposed integration of rural women and men into export-led agriculture, highlighting how the gains and risks are shared within and between households. Can high-value crops be transferred into high-value jobs for rural men and women? The FATE team assesses the conditions under which the shift from subsistence orientation towards wage reliance enhances the well-being of household members, or, in contrast, adds pressure on farming families, as they opt out of subsistence and are being pushed towards capital investment. Instead of increased choices – the promise of development – small farmers may bear the risk of losing their land and face added dependency and vulnerability. Adopting a within-case as well as a cross-case research framework, quantitative and qualitative data will be collected across four less developed, land-locked countries. The comparison aims at understanding the social and political conditions required for asset building at household level, and it illuminates the barriers to improve capabilities. Against the background of the dramatic transformations of rural spaces this project discusses potentials of the given dynamics for rural labour markets, and addresses the risks rural men and women face, as they engage in wage employment. Relevance: The findings will feed into debates on the transformative power of economic change induced by globalization and will contribute to policy frameworks which not only aim at creating jobs but prospects – namely for the poorer portions of developing societies to actually escape from poverty. Transdisciplinary in nature, this project will provide evidence for governance – knowledge that can inform negotiations of social justice in the context of agricultural transition and rural employment. It thus contributes to opening up pathways to sustainable development viable for those segments of the population who usually get bypassed by the benefits of globalization. Geographic scope: Bolivia, Rwanda, Lao PDR, Nepal.

Grant Value3532356
Commencement Date / Completion Date7 July 2014 - 7 July 2020
Contributors Prof. Dr. Hanspeter Znoj (Principle Investigator)
Prof. Dr. Ulf Liebe (Principle Investigator)
Dr. Eliud Abucheli Birachi (Principle Investigator)
Dr. Elizabeth Jimenez Zamora (Principle Investigator)
Dr. Saithong Phommavong (Principle Investigator)
Dr. Bishnu Raj Upreti (Principle Investigator)
Dr. Sabin Bieri (Principle Investigator)
Funders [UNSPECIFIED] Swiss Programme for Research on Global Issues for Development
[UNSPECIFIED] Interdisciplinary Centre for Gender Studies, University of Bern
[UNSPECIFIED] Centre for Development and Environment / Department for Sociology, University of Bern
[UNSPECIFIED] International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT), Rwanda
[UNSPECIFIED] Universidad Mayor de San Andrés, Bolivia
[UNSPECIFIED] Nepal Centre for Contemporary Research (NCCR), Nepal
KeywordsFATE, Agriculture development and growth Non-traditional agricultural exports commercialisation of agriculture
Publications Bader, Christoph; Bieri, Sabin; Wiesmann, Urs; Heinimann, Andreas (2016). Differences between monetary and multidimensional poverty in the Lao PDR: Implications for targeting of poverty reduction policies and interventions. Poverty & Public Policy, 8(2), pp. 171-197. Wiley 10.1002/pop4.140
Tschopp, Maurice Nicolas (2016). Extensive quinoa production in Southern Bolivia: How are producers associations shaping the governance of natural resources? (Unpublished). In: IASC European Regional Conference: Commons in a ‘Glocal’ World: Global Connections and Local Responses. Berne, Switzerland. 10.-13.05.2016.
Bader, Christoph; Bieri, Sabin; Wiesmann, Urs; Heinimann, Andreas (2017). Is economic growth increasing disparities? A multidimensional analysis of poverty in the Lao PDR between 2003 and 2013. Journal of development studies, 53(12), pp. 2067-2085. Taylor & Francis 10.1080/00220388.2016.1251587
Adams, Timothy; Gerber, Jean-David; Amacker, Michèle (2019). Constraints and opportunities in gender relations: Sugarcane outgrower schemes in Malawi. World development, 122, pp. 282-294. Elsevier 10.1016/j.worlddev.2019.05.029
Matthys, Marie-Luise; Acharya, Sushant; Khatri, Sanjaya (2021). “Before cardamom, we used to face hardship”: Analyzing agricultural commercialization effects in Nepal through a local concept of the Good Life. World development, 141, p. 105410. Elsevier 10.1016/j.worlddev.2021.105410

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