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Gender and agrobiodiversity: a case study from Bangladesh

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Local geography and gender are two major factors determining which crop varieties are cultivated in a case study of two rural villages in Bangladesh. This paper explores the interrelationships between gender, agrobiodiversity, and the use of, and preferences for, improved and local crop varieties. These are examined in relation to rice, minor field crops, and home garden fruits and vegetables. Reasons for both the displacement and the persistence of local varieties (LVs) are analysed in comparison to improved variety (IV) diffusion. The research evaluates agrobiodiversity through the number, types, and varieties of crops grown in fields and home gardens. The desired agroecological, economic, and cultural characteristics of crops grown document how respondents rank their variety preferences. Variety preferences and the perceived importance of LV preservation are compared with what is actually grown. The study indicates that there was little variation between villages in their approach towards the use of IV and LV rice; IVs were cultivated for their high yields and LV rice for taste and culinary uses. However, there were significant differences in relative agricultural dependence between the two villages which led to unique variety preferences. In both villages, women's preferences for IVs or LVs play a major role in crop choices, particularly as they manifest themselves in gendered domains of authority.

Keywords: Bangladesh; agrobiodiversity; gender; local varieties; seed management; survey

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: 1114 E. Mcleod Avenue, Sapulpa, OK 74066, USA, Email: 2: Department of Human and Community Development, University of California, Davis, One Shields Avenue, Davis, CA 95616, USA, Email:

Publication date: September 1, 2005

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