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"Forests-Agriculture Interface through a Gender Lens"


Below the pfotos accompaigned with a short storie submitted to the International Photo Competition 2014 on the ‘Forest-Agriculture Interface through a Gender Lens’, organized by CIAT. About 280 individual entries were received from 31 countries across globe.


The photo book reproduces the selected photos with the titles and background stories about the successes and failures of integrating gender equity in forests, agroforestry and the small farms anywhere in the world.  In total 40 photos and stories were selected and published in an open access e-book Landscaping Actually: From Forests to Farms though a Gender Lens


Three of my photos has been selected to be part of the photo book  ('resilience at the margins' one of the three winners of the competition, 'Fueling Generation X' and 'Environment Protectors') 

All texts has been written by David Tarrasón and Federica Ravera


resilience at the margins

How do the markets work for these Andean women at the margins? Since development policies encouraged them to produce cash crops and to supply urban markets, Andean farmers have been exposed to oscillations in demand and prices and have themselves helped to increase the fragility of mountain environment they depend on. In response, the local barter markets in the different agro-ecological zones have reorganized, bringing economically and ecologically sound options into the local food system. Highland Puna farmers trade their surplus (meat and wool) in exchange for Andean crops from Suni or maize from Quechua zones. Women are mainly in charge of the barter markets, controlling diversity of diet and nutritional security. They also define the social rules that govern these markets, thus helping to sustain the social reproduction. Indeed, solidarity towards old women who cannot produce and farmers who have lost their produce is a criteria for measurement

Fueling Generation X

When the young girl in jeans and white T-shirt comes back from school in the afternoon, she joins the women of the village in carrying heavy baskets of cow dung to return soil fertility to the fields. Sixty-five percent of the mid-high Kumaon hills are forest-covered, and farming is largely done on the rain-fed uplands whose soils are protected from erosion by terracing. In this sensitive landscape, the women’s collaborative goal is to minimize the vulnerability of local livelihoods to environmental change. Reproduction precedes social production. There has been a clear recognition that "gender" is relevant in community agroforestry.  Managing soil fertility and forest resources, and conserving seed and knowledge exchanges are mainly women’s roles. They are assured by collaborative safety nets, ninety percent of which are run by women. These socio-cultural strategies, transmitted from mothers to young women, underlie individual and collective capacity to adapt to crisis and long-lasting change.  

Environment protectors

High in the central Andes, walking breathless at 4,000 meters, where the mountains are like islands in the sky, you never feel alone. Whenever and wherever you look, a human figure is there. The most common image is that of a woman carrying firewood or bags of goods to be exchanged in barter markets. The remnants of Quenua (Polylepis spp) patches play a key part in the functioning of the fragmented High-Andean ecosystem, offering a foraging habitat for insectivorous birds, and providing essential goods and services for local livelihoods. Women couple the question of forest conservation with their own survival. They are the main users, managers and primary guardians of the forest remnants’ resources. Although that role has been rendered all but invisible by conservationists and policy-makers, the women themselves are conscious of their role as protectors of the environment.

Charming users, managers and conservers of vulnerable systems

Indian women emanate charm and style even when working in the fields. In the mountain landscapes of northern India, the nature of gender roles and division of labour mean that women are mainly involved in the management of the complex and interdependent agro-forestry and livestock system. They clean the understory of herbs and thin branches that they use for feeding their domestic animals. They grow wild crop varieties for feeding fields, and collect forest products daily for feeding their households. They pass on the cultural and knowledge system associated with agro-forestry and livestock management. These women perform care tasks traditionally associated with village and family life. Culture and nature have co-evolved together in these vulnerable landscapes for centuries. In spite of the significant role played by women in agricultural tasks, their contribution is hardly ever recognized by society.

Laria (Huancavelica, Peru), 2005

Tambopata, Laria (Huancavelica, Peru),  2005

Almora (Utharakand, India),  2012

Bageshar (Uttarakand, India), 27/10/2012

Invisible women, invisible crops

A kumaoni woman, hidden in the field, harvests millets with a hand scythe: invisible women, invisible crops. In Uttarakhand, neglected and underutilized crop species are traditionally cultivated by women in very small quantities, yet they significantly contribute to local livelihoods, food security and wellbeing. Many of these “invisible crops” occupy important niches, adapted to the risky and fragile conditions of mountain communities. They have a comparative advantage in marginal lands as they are more resilient to climatic stresses. Though their value is mostly overlooked by agencies and governments, events in recent years have brought them more into the limelight. National programs of poverty alleviation are introducing these highly nutritional species into schools. Women are engaged in collecting for new markets through value addition and product diversification. The increased visibility of these gendered crops may have a positive and lasting knock-on effect on agrobiodiversity conservation, nutritional security and income generation.

Almora (Utharakand, India),  2012

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