Front Cover
 Title Page
 Area focused study
 Mabouya valley

Group Title: Conference on Gender Issues in Farming Systems Research and Extenion, University of Florida, February 26 to March 1, 1986
Title: Farming systems research in the Eastern Caribbean : an attempt at intra-household dynamics
Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00081693/00001
 Material Information
Title: Farming systems research in the Eastern Caribbean : an attempt at intra-household dynamics
Series Title: Conference on Gender Issues in Farming Systems Research and Extenion, University of Florida, February 26 to March 1, 1986
Physical Description: Book
Language: English
Creator: Chase, Vasantha
Publisher: University of Florida
Publication Date: 1986
Subject: Caribbean   ( lcsh )
Farming   ( lcsh )
University of Florida.   ( lcsh )
Spatial Coverage: Caribbean
North America -- United States of America -- Florida
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00081693
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved, Board of Trustees of the University of Florida

Table of Contents
    Front Cover
        Front Cover
    Title Page
        Page 1
        Page 2
        Page 3
    Area focused study
        Page 4
    Mabouya valley
        Page 5
        Page 6
        Page 7
        Page 8
        Page 9
        Page 10
        Page 11
        Page 12
        Page 13
        Page 14
        Page 15
        Page 16
        Page 17
Full Text

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Conference on



P. 0. Box 971,
St. Lucia, West Indies.

An Attempt at Intra-Household Dynamics

Vasantha Chase

A paper presented at the Conference on Sender
Systems Research and Extension, held at
Florida, Sainsville, "lorida from February 25

Issues in Farming
the University of
to March 1, 1986

The objective of this paper is to describe and discuss the

attempts of the Caribbean Agricultural Research and Development

Institute (CARDI) at Intra-Household Dynamics in Farming Systems

Research in the Eastern Caribbean.

CARDI was established in 1975 to serve the agricultural

research and development needs of the twelve (12' member

countries of the Caribbean community. In 1993 with USAID

assistance CARDI initiated a Farming Systems Research and

Development Project (FSR/D).

CARDI's FSR/D project is designed to facilitate the growth

of a more diversified agriculture consistent with the changing

political and economic requirements of the Eastern Caribbean

States. The project is particularly concerned with developing

technologies appropriate to the circumstances of target groups of

farmers. The direct beneficiaries of the project are typically

the small fare household, i.e. the farm family is the unit of

analysis. Unfortunately, however, as is typical of traditional

Farming Systems Research CARDI has until very recently, been

placing a great deal of emphasis on understanding Farmer

Circumstances at the expense of understanding the nature of the

dynamic interactions that exist within the farm family.

A number of studies carried out in the Caribbean (Buvinic et

its 1978; Ellis 1982; Knudson and Yates 1981;) have shown that

the different roles of household members in producing food for

income generation and for household requirements, directly affect

the farming system of which they are part. Women in the

Caribbean because of their multiple work roles in agriculture,

childcare, home maintainance within the farm household, and

because of stereotypic notions of these roles confront special

problems in becoming more efficient food producers (Narendran,

1983). Although a substantial number of women are negaged in

farm work, women farm operators on the average receive less

income than men and many of the women classify themselves as

'housewives' rather than 'farmers'. Women also receive less

attention from the extension service than do male farmers.

Furthermore the data also reveals that there are distinct areas

of farm decision making in which women play an important role.

In many Eastern Caribbean farming systems, adult sales have

primary responsibility for deciding about the timing and nature

of operations related to the cultivation of bananas, (Windward

Islands)1, sugarcane and/or cotton (Leeward Islands )2 and other

cash crop (spices, citrus, root crops, fruits and vegetables for

export) and the maintainance and sale of livestock. While women

contribute much of the labour in such activities as planting,

weeding, harvesting and marketing (domestic and/or regional

markets only) the allocation of labour is determined by the

husband or by a male relative. The wife generally has virtual

autonomy, however, in decisions pertaining to the cultivation of

legumes, vegetables and root crops for home consumption and for

sale in domestic markets. Moreover, decisions about family food

' Grenada, St. Vincent, St. Lucia, Dominica.
2 Antigua, St. Christopher/Nevis, Montserrat.

consumption and nutrition lie solely within the domain of women.

Given the above knowledge of women in small farm agriculture

in the Eastern Caribbean and given its own experiences CARDI has

now embarked on refining its methodology to include an

understanding of intra-household dynamics. It is felt that

assuming that the male farmer makes all decisions or accurately

represents the interest and intentions of other members of the

fare household may yield the wrong answers.


As its first attempt at intra-household variables in the

design of appropriate technologies, CARDI conducted an Area

Focussed Study (AFS) in the Mabouya Valley in St. Lucia. This

AFS was set up as an organised way of gathering original micro-

level data at the level of a number of closely situated

communities. The goal of the AFS was to provide information for

designing and testing improved production systems and documenting

and evaluating the improved production systems. Thus close

attention was placed on analysing the farm household in terms of

its patterns of labour allocation, decision making and resource


Following the recommendations of McKee (1984) a couple of

issues were highlighted in the analysis:

a. definition of the household. The household was defined in

terms of its composition and in terms of its of its

production and consumption functions. Such a definition

was useful for the formulation of household typologies

which in turn were used as one fo the criteria in

selecting the sample for on-farm trials.

b. definition of farming system. The farming system was

defined in terms of. the overall household

production/consumption system. This helped to identify

the appropriate decision markerss, the different sources

of labour available to the farm family, the allocation of

resources, and consequently, the major areas for



The Mabouya Valley was selected as the research site because

the valley represents a wide range of farming systems found in

St. Lucia; it encompasses a number of agroecosystems; and its

agricultural and political history has been influenced by a large

plantation and numerous small holders with varying forms of

tenure. In addition this valley has traditionally been an area

which has experienced male migration and which in turn has

resulted in matrifocal residue, and the strong incentives the

need to work coupled with their low levels of education for the

women to take jobs in the marginal sectors which are

characterized by low paid labour. Finally, in 1984 the

Government established the Dennery Basin Advisory Committee to

advise on an integrated development proposal for the valley. One

of the many proposals includes the subdivision of approximately

100ha of hillside lands into small farms to be leased to local


The Habouya Valley is located in the centre eastern part of

the island and it contains the largest expanse of flat fertile

land on the windward side of St. Lucia. It comprises 4,043 ha.

Dennery Farm Company (FARMCO) a Government owned estate,

constitutes approximately 26% of the valley. The present land

use in the most easterly and driven parts of the catchment is the

intensive cultivation of slopes with banana and root crops. In

many cases this has led to the complete removal of top soil.

A rapid appraisal of the Valley was carried out by CARDI and

personnel from the Ministry of Agriculture. At the same time

linkages were set up with the Central Planning Unit and the

Organisation of American States, both of which provided us with

relevant background information on settlement patterns in the

Valley and with recently drawn land-use maps. Discussions were

also held with officials of the Dennery FARMCO the Government

owned estate who provided information on the agricultural

history of the valley. This information was further

substantiated with a number of prominent farmers in the area.

The rapid appraisal identified three agroecosystems:

a) a lower valley/central valley area* from sea level to an

altitude of not more than 300 feet. The rainfall is between

1751 and 2450mm and there are at least 2 to 4 dry months.

*The lower Saline Valley of 0 feet to 50 feet altitude and the
Central Valley of 50 feet to 300 feet.

The soils are predominantly alluvial;

b) upper valley area lying between 300 feet and 800 feet

altitude; and

c) forest reserve area above 800 feet.

As one moves from sea level to the forest reserve area the

annual rainfall increases and the number of dry months decreases.

The soils in areas (b) and (c) are predominantly Latosolics and

Polysolics with the Latosolics tending to be more common in the

forest reserve area.

Beyond 800 feet altitude, rainfall increases to more than

2400 am; there are no dry months. Soil erosion is severe because

of deforestation by small scale subsistence farmers.

There are 12 communities in the valley but only 8 were

included in the AFS. Tables 2,3 and 4 describe the

agroecological and socio-economic characteristics of each of the


Out of the population of 810 households, a sample of 155

households a stratified sample of 19 per cent were interviewed.

Seven of the 155 questionnaires had to be discarded because of

either inconsistent or incomplete data. 62.2 per cent 1'2) of

the sample interviewed were male farmers while the remaining 37.8

per cent (56) were female.

With reference to Table 2 the settlements in the Central

Valley margin have larger populations. This in turn is reflected

in the sample size, even when it is disaggregated by sex of

farmer. 67.8 per cent (38) of the female farmers in the sample

lived in the central valley margin; this compares with the 41.8

per cent (63) of aale farmers in the same zone.

Basic demographic and farm data revealed no significant

gender differences. Even when labour utilization by agricultural

activity was compared by gender the variation was significant for

only specific cultural practices. The percentages of respondents

who utilized family labour for planting was 89 per cent females

and 43 per cent sales.

In-depth discussions to ascertain the reasons for this

variation reveal the following.

i) Capital resources available to the female farmer are

limited. Every attempt is therefore made to use family


ii) In many instances the entire land available to the female

farmer is not always planted with crops. At least 75 per

cent of the female respondents claimed that they

cultivated only that amounts of land which the family

labour could maintain.

iii) Although the survey results show no difference in types of

crops cultivated, the female farmers claimed that they

tend to emphasize more on short term crops (roots and

vegetables). It is their contention that these crops can

be easily maintained by family labour only.

iv) Forty per cent of the female respondents said that they

had fairly regular access to a pool of family labour.

This labour pool was made up of an assortment of

relatives, all of whom not necessarily lived in the same


While still on the subject of labour utilization by gender

it is interesting to note the variation that was observed in the

lower valley where nearly all the holdings (including FARMCO) are

more than 25 ha. All these holdings are owned by males. The

seven female respondents who were interviewed in this zone are

all estate labourers who cultivate small parcels of land (either

within the boundaries of the estate in which they work or higher

up the valley). The produce is primarily for farm family

consumption and for sale within the community. In the lower

valley 58 per cent of the females used family labour while only

44 per cent of the male farmers used family labour. Be that as

it may some of the male farmers claimed that their utilization of

hired labour would have been high had it not been for the fact

that most of their holdings were already established to bananas

and other tree crops. This meant that labour was only being

utilized for the maintainance and harvesting of the cops. The

female farmers, on the other hand, claimed that their utilization

of labour was high because family labour was either not available

at all or not available on time for land clearing and land

preparation activities.

Other than labour the variables which flushed out gender

differences included

Farm management female farmers felt that although they grew

the same crops as their male counterparts, outputs were markedly

lower. This they attributed to their low level of literacy,

their difficulties in obtaining capital for farm improvement,

poor extension information and their inability to carry out

profitable market transactions, primarily because of a lack of

market intelligence.

The findings of the AFS are much more detailed than what is

outlined above but due to the lack of space it would suffice to

mention here that while a formal survey revealed no gender

differences, in-depth informal discussions and case studies

revealed otherwise.

The implications of the AFS for technology generation to

CARDI's agricultural and livestock specialists were many. One of

the recommendations that stands out distinctly is that of the

Integrated Backyard System. The prepondence of root crops grown

in the area, the limited livestock numbers, the very low

porudction of vegetables and laum-es, and the absence of cereal

production suggests that there may be nutritional imbalances in

the valley. It is CARDI's opinion that this nutritional

imbalance could be corrected by introducing backyard gardens

which would encompass both plant and animal husbandry in

relatively confined areas close to family dwellings. The

backyard systems have been designed to be small-scale, clearly

defined, controlled by women, and unaffected by broader market

trends which renders them an area for development that offers

highest pay-offs for limited inputs. The major function of the

backyard system will be to produce food and essential nutrients

on a dav-to-day basis for immediate family consumption.

CARDI's decision to include nutrition in one of its

recommendations for the valley stems from the realization that a

number of its programmes to improve the productivity of small

farmers have had little impact on the nutritional status of their


Agricultural development projects largely deal with male

farmers and field production. Traditionally female dominated

aspects of farming systems has gone without much attention.

CARDI has decided to work with the female members in the farm

household because the data reveals that women make decisions

pertaining to family consumption and food preparation. They are

also the ones who have expressed concerns over family nutrition.

On the subject of additional labour that might be needed to

maintain the vegetable backyards CARDI was assured by the women

themselves that if the backyard system provides for the kitchen

and is therefore an integral part of the kitchen than the labour

utilization in the backyard will be regarded as labour utilized

in normal household chores.

The technology that has been designed include the following

a. a fenced-in vegetable plot (the size depends on land

availability and farm size);

b. preparation of a compost heap as a source of organic


c. preparation of pens for small livestock designed to

facilitate easy feeding, watering and collection of pen

manure and other livestock products e.g. eggs.

d. design of simple irrigation systems to collect rain water -

from roofs of pens using bamboo guttering and oil drums;

e. planting of small fodder pests as feed banks for livestock,

particularly, particularly rabbits.

Once the system has been introduced to a sample of not more

than 15 households the system will be closely monitored to


a) The changes in consumption patterns.

b) The changes in household expenditure.

c) The types of gender differentiation that might result from

the different activities activities needed to set up the

system (the Dominica experience has shown that the men do

the heavier tasks of land preparation and pen construction

while the women do the remaining tasks).

d) Which of the genders places closer attention to the

maintenance and continuity of the system.

e) The types of gender differentiation that migh result from

the different components crop and livestock in the


As part of the Technology Transfer phase CARDI will prepare

simple leaflets on:

i) How to establish an Integrated Backyard System;

ii) How to maintain the continuity of the system;

iii) How to process and preserve the surpluses from the system;

iv) The nutritive value of the crop and livestock in the system;

v) How to prepare food from the outputs of the system.

An important component of this phase will be the development

of simple record keeping methods.

Finally, the evaluation of the technology will be monitoring

of the farm household before and after the introduction of the

technology viz:

a) changes in consumption patterns;

b) changes in labour utilization of the different genders in the


c) changes in farm family savings through:

i. reduction in food purchases, and

ii. sale of surpluses from the system.


BUR:NIC, Mayra, Nadia Youssef and Barbara Von Elm
197;. Women Headed Households: The ignored Factor in
Development Planning. Washington D.C.

1982 Agricultural Extension Services and the Role of Women in
Agricultural Development in the Eastern Caribbean. St.

KNUDSON, Barbara and Barbara Yates
1981 The Economic Role of Women in Small Scale Agriculture in
Eastern Caribbean St. Lucia. Barbados.

McKEE, Catherine
1984 "Methodological challenges in analysing the Household in
Farming Systems Research: Intra-Household Resource
Allocation". In Cornelia Butler Flora (ed) Animals in the
Eily!iq Sgstpmq Kansas State University, pp 593-603.

1982 Agricultural Decision Making in the Eastern Caribbean.
St. Lucia.

Table 1: Land Use in the Mabouya Valley

(ACS) (HA) %

Forest 1853 750 18.5
Sec. Forect 1408 570 14.0
Scrub Forest 840 340 8.5
Open Woodland 37 15 0.5
Commercial Agriculture 1915 775 19.0
Intensive Small Farming 1841 745 18.5
Mixed Small FArming 1519 615 15.5
Settlements 556 225 5.5

Table 2: Communities in the Mabouya Valley


A'ro-ecologic?1 Nirhe

Gtand Riviere
La Resource
Derniere Riviere/Belmont
La Perle/Lumiere
Grand Ravine
Aux Lyons/Despin

Lower Valley
Lower Valley
Lower Valley
Central Valley
Central Valley
Central Valley
Central Valley
Upper Valley


Source: CPU/OAS/Ministry of Health/Ministry of Agriculture




Postal Service


Community Center/hall

Health Centre







= Playing Field

= Police Station

= Public conveni=cce

= Cemetery

= Infant school

= Primary School

All those with (*) marked next to them represent communities within

Dennery Farms boundaries.


Derniere Riviere/Belmont E,W,T,P,C,PF,PUC,E1 1,785

Gadette E, W, 530

La Ressource E,W,T,P,C,CC,HC,PF,CM 405

Aux Lyons/Despinoze E,W,T,P,C,PF,PUC 1,333

La Perle/Lumiere* E 138

La Caye* E,W,C,PF, PS,PUC 666

Rich Fond* E,W,T,CC,HC,PUC,E1 528

Grand Ravine* E,W,PF,PUC

Grand Riviere E,W,T,P,PF,PUC 714




T =


C =

CC =

HC =



Appox. Average Density
Area house- Popula- (pop/ Settle-
(Acres) Houses hold tion Acre ment

Derniere Riviere/Belmone 168 388 4.6 1785 10 D

Gadette 64 109 4.6 500 8 L

La Ressource 23 88 4.6 405 18 N

Aux Lyon/Despinoze 109 290 4.6 1333 12 N

La Perle/Lumiere 57 30 4.6 138 2 L

Richefond 32 115 4.6 528 17 D

Grande Ravine 42 83 4.6 381 9 N

Grande Riviere 50 155 4.6 714 14 N


N Nuclear settlement

L Linear settlement

D Dispersed settlement


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