Is intensified agriculture socio-economically sustainable? A gendered labor perspective from Bangladesh
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Marcel Gatto. (1/11/2021). Is intensified agriculture socio-economically sustainable? A gendered labor perspective from Bangladesh.
Agricultural intensification (AI) can contribute to food security in developing countries by creating more food on same area of land. The focus has predominantly been on environmental tradeoffs and conservation agricultural practices to minimize those. Socioeconomic factors, such as labour and gender implications, have received much less attention. This is important because AI demand new ways of working with the farming system, may involve a reallocation of resources, with implications for labour requirements and allocation. Therefore, the objective of this paper is to analyze the determinants of labour allocation in intensive agri-food systems in Bangladesh. We use a 2018 dataset of 450 randomly selected farmers from Bangladesh and employ seemingly unrelated regression techniques to control for error term correlation. We found that labour demands are crop-dependent and gendered. While rice is the domain of men, women are predominantly required in potato and eggplant cultivation, in addition to male labour. Labour shocks, because of increasing infant care, are mitigated by increased use of hired female labour. These results suggest that increased labor demand in intensified and sustainable agricultural systems may pose a constraint to adopting such systems. As such, increasing labor demand may contribute to rural development in areas where labor is readily availability. This study offers important insights in the context-specific socio-economic sustainability of agricultural intensification in Bangladesh.