Gendered and Contextual Factors in the Design of Integrated Pest Management (IPM) Programs for Tomato Growers in East Africa

E. Wairimu Mwangi, J. Mark Erbaugh, Kallunde Sibuga, Amon Maerere, Monica Waiganjo


The Integrated Pest Management (IPM) Collaborative Research Support Program in East Africa has been using a farmer participatory IPM strategy with small-scale tomato growers at on-farm research sites in Kenya and Tanzania since 2004. Understanding local farmer knowledge of agricultural production, including both gendered and contextual factors, is a hallmark of participatory approaches, and important to the design and development of appropriate location-specific IPM technologies. The purpose of this study was to compare and contrast gender and contextual influences on tomato production farm-level decision-making and marketing practices. The results indicate that regardless of context, gender influenced access to resources and this influenced production quantity and decision-making. However, contextual differences predominated suggesting that “one-size does not fit all” and that planned interventions need to be tailored to specific contexts in which gender relations unfold. Contextual similarities in the production of higher value marketed horticultural crops, including female cash crop production and the prevalent use of synthetic pesticides and fertilizers, provides evidence that the gender-specific nature of traditional African farming is transitioning. That extension agents were relatively minor sources of information suggests that horticultural cash crop production is an important contextual basis for differentiating the demand for IPM programs.

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