The West African Regional Program held a workshop in Tuobodom, Brong Ahafo Region, Ghana, on gender roles and pesticide use in tomato farming, July 19–22, 2011. Facilitated by Maria Elisa Christie, Director of Women and Gender in International Development at Virginia Tech and lead researcher in the IPM IL Gender Global Theme, the workshop trained senior scientists from the Ghanian Crop Research Institute, agricultural extension agents, a member of Ghana’s National Service, and a representative from the Ministry of Agriculture’s Women in Agricultural Development program, 24 participants in all.
The workshop’s content is expected to reach 9,000 farmers in the extension agents’ regions.
Through their engagement with local farmers, workshop participants found that there have been significant losses to crops due to pests as well as a need for increased pesticide safety awareness. Workshop participants also discovered that women have been withdrawing from tomato production.
Laura Zseleczky, a Virginia Tech/IPM IL graduate research assistant working with Christie, assisted with the workshop and explained the issues facing women growers. “Tomato production is labor intensive, particularly in the land preparation side of things—clearing the field, making long ridges, and weeding,” she said. “These activities are gendered and are considered men’s work. If women are producing tomatoes, they have to hire men to do these things.” This extra financial burden makes tomato production more expensive for women versus men growers.
The West African regional IPM IL will incorporate the findings from the workshop in its programs. Misinformation on pesticide safety, lack of an organized farmers’ association, a
nd a need for training on IPM and alternatives to pest management are issues the IPM CRSP plans to address.