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Gender-Related Factors Influencing the Viability of Irrigation Projects in Lesotho

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Women are the primary farm managers in Lesotho and therefore deserve special consideration in the implemention of any new agricultural technology. Eighty-two female Basotho farmers newly-involved in commercial irrigated vegetable production were interviewed to determine their receptivity and adjustment to irrigation systems. The time-use patterns of these agriculturalists were examined to determine the potential constraints imposed by the implementation of more labor-intensive agriculture. Further, respondents were queried as to their access to credit, extension agents, training, and as to their specific problems with irrigation. In addition to describing their responses, the analysis includes comparisons with female and male respondents involved in mechanized, dryland agriculture and with the responses of male irrigators. The findings suggest that among the primary threats to the long-term viability of irrigation systems in this environment are the time constraints faced by women irrigators. Time constraints may serve to exacerbate the other threats such as the "donor-dependency syndrome" found among farmers in Lesotho. Suggestions for accommodating potential conflicts include educating women to hire additional laborers during peak labor periods, providing alternative sources of child care, and taking action to decrease dependency.

Affiliations: 1: Department of Sociology Utah State University, Logan, UT 84322-0730.; 2: Department of Sociology, Colorado State University Fort Collins, CO 80521.


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