Mapping gendered pest management knowledge, practices, and pesticide exposure pathways in Ghana and Mali
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Global food security challenges demand an understanding of farmers' gendered practices and perspectives. This research draws on data from a quantitative survey and qualitative methods to explore gender differences related to farmers' practices, perceptions, and knowledge of pesticides and other pest management practices in tomato growing regions of Ghana and Mali. A pathways approach based on participatory mapping integrates findings and reveals gender differences in labor and knowledge at different stages of tomato production. Farmers in both countries are heavily reliant on pesticides, but there are also differences in pest management knowledge and practices between them. In Mali, farmers are more familiar with Integrated Pest Management (IPM) practices, but less aware of potential health risks of pesticides and more likely to engage in dangerous agro-chemical practices. In both countries, women are significantly less aware of pesticide dangers and IPM techniques than men and exposed to pesticides though a variety of pathways. We argue that the gender division of labor and differences in access to resources, information, and power between the two sites leads to gendered pesticide exposure pathways that are often unseen by the biological scientists who tend to focus on the field. Gender inequalities in knowledge and unsafe practices were particularly apparent in Mali compared to Ghana, possibly due to the lower literacy rates and decision making power of women and their narrower range of involvement in tomato production. The article concludes with gender sensitive recommendations to improve IPM research methods, trainings, and technology diffusion.
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