On Friday, April 20, Laura Zseleczky successfully defended her masters thesis entitled Gender and Pest Management in Ghana: Implications for the Introduction of an IPM Program for Tomato. I had the pleasure of serving on Laura’s thesis committee with Dr. Maria Elisa Christie (committee chair) and Prof. Tim Luke.
Laura’s research identified gender-based constraints to, and opportunities for, the introduction of an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) program for tomato based on a case study of tomato farmers in the town of Tuobodom in the Brong Ahafo Region of Ghana. Her study seeks to identify the knowledge, practices, perceptions, and access to resources of men and women tomato farmers in Tuobodom, specifically with respect to pesticides and pest management. Laura used a mixed methods approach to combine quantitative and qualitative methodologies including focus group discussions, household interviews, participatory mapping, field visits, key informant interviews, participant observation, and a survey. Key findings in the area of health and safety, markets and the tomato value chain, and information and training reveal general and gender-specific issues that an IPM program should address when working with farmers to develop an effective and sustainable IPM package for tomato in this area. The results from her research also demonstrate the importance of gender analysis in identifying context-specific gender issues. For example, while her research confirmed that men’s roles in tomato production place them at higher risk of exposure to pesticides, her findings challenge the assumption that women’s reproductive roles (e.g., food preparation, caring for the sick, etc.) make them more aware of the risks of pesticides. In the coming months, Laura plans to develop one or two journal articles to summarize the rich and important findings of her work.