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The (Re) Production of Gendered Positionality in Botswana's Commercial Urban Agriculture Sector

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Urban agriculture is increasingly touted as a key element to achieving urban productivity and sustainability, particularly in the developing world. Understanding the role and potential of commercial urban agriculture in addressing food security and economic growth requires an assessment of the agricultural systems themselves, along with the net outcomes they generate. Limitations of past research on urban agriculture make these assessments difficult. Specifically, studies tend to aggregate data such that they mask differential experiences of men and women farmers and fail to explain adequately the influence of location and human-environment relations on production systems. People's ability to create productive and sustainable urban agricultural systems is premised on who they are, where they are located, and how they interact with the environment in that location. This article presents an empirical investigation of the effects of gender on commercial urban agriculture in Greater Gaborone, Botswana. It employs a conceptual framework that bridges sociospatial and human-environment traditions in geography, and highlights gendered environments to facilitate this convergence. The investigation reveals that gender clearly influences the quantity and type of foodstuffs produced for the urban market. Gender matters because men and women enter into agricultural production, and participate within this urban economic sector, on unequal terms based on socioeconomic status, location, and interactions with the environment. If urban agriculture is to contribute to food security and economic growth, as well as urban sustainability more generally, gender relations of power, as produced and reproduced through sociospatial and human-environment relations, must inform understanding of this phenomenon.
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Keywords: Botswana; gender; human-environment relations; urban agriculture; urban geography

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Geography, University of Guelph

Publication date: 2005-06-01

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