Gender, trees, and hardship or the dilemma of the Haitian farmer

Pierre, Maritza
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Agroforestry has been advocated as a sustainable way to bridge the gap between food needs and tree cover maintenance. While there is a wealth of literature on agroforestry adoption, little attention has been given to the decline of agroforestry practices in communities where agroforestry is still common. In addition, research on the intersection of gender and agroforestry tends to be skewed towards African countries. Using Haiti as a case study, this research explores the factors causing the decline of agroforestry practices, with a focus on external factors such as farmers’ socio-economic background and access to resources, internal factors including their knowledge and perceptions, and gender. While such factors have been considered independently in prior research, their combined effects on agroforestry adoption or decline have been ignored. Haiti has a history of agroforestry, however the global pattern of land clearing for agriculture is creating deforestation and decline in agroforestry practices. Data for the study is based on a survey of 62 farmers and two focus groups in Dondon and Grande Rivià ¯à ¿à ½re du Nord, 2 communes in Northern Haiti. The findings indicate that agricultural spaces as expected are gendered - women control tree products, while men control the production of cash crops. It was also found that when individual perceptions of agroforestry were positive, financial hardship and collective attitudes towards tree-cutting had greater impact on agroforestry practices. While both male and female farmers had positive attitudes towards agroforestry, there was a gender difference with regards to aspects of agroforestry that were most important to farmers. In contrast to much of the literature on gender and agroforestry, it was found that the women tended to value tree profitability as benefits of agroforestry more than did the men who attributed greater importance to ecosystem services. We argue that in the Haitian context, such difference is conformed to gender expectations and to some degree can be seen as a result of gender inequality.

agroforestry, community, gender, Haiti, rural development, sustainability