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Women and seed management: A study of two villages in Bangladesh

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Seed management has until recently been neglected in agrobiodiversity research. Gender dimensions in seed selection, processing, storage and exchange embody critical task areas in the human management of diverse crop species and varieties. This paper focuses on women’s roles in seed management in field and homegarden crops in Bangladesh and reports on the findings of a study in two villages in Tangail District. Seventy-five women were surveyed with a questionnaire and subsets interviewed in-depth; focus groups conducted for women and men provided a means of cross-checking responses. Three distinct areas of agrobiodiversity were addressed: the gendered divisions of labour among agricultural tasks; the pervasiveness of seed saving among respondents; and seed management practices and techniques. The results indicate that while men have greater authority over field activities, homegarden production is the exclusive domain of women. Seed management is seen as an extension of women’s domestic duties: women are responsible for all seed processing, storage and exchange for field as well as homegarden crops. The vast majority of seeds sown are saved on-farm by women, revealing important cultural, economic and environmental implications for agrobiodiversity conservation and local differences.
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Keywords: Bangladesh; agrobiodiversity; gendered divisions of labour; seed management; seed saving

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Human and Community Development, University of California, Davis, USA

Publication date: 2007-03-01

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