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Gender and Development Plan of Action






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    Socio-economics and Gender in Aquaculture 1998
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    The gender and socio-economic roles of men and women in different forms of Lao aquaculture (pond, rice-cum-fish, mini-hatchery) have not been widely investigated. This socio-economic and gender analysis study of Lao aquaculture was conducted in five Lao provinces within the scope of the UNDP/FAO project Lao/97/007. The Lao PDR population is predominantly involved in agricultural activities and increasing food security and income levels of poorer farmers of all ethnic groups are key priorities. T he rural Lao PDR population depend primarily on rice cultivation coupled to a wide variety of other agricultural (pigs, poultry, buffalo etc) and wild food foraging activities for their food security. Both captured and cultivated fish is widely consumed and commands a premium price in markets. Easy access to fish for the family is one of the main reasons for both women's and men's interest in raising fish in Lao PDR. It is considered that there is a potential for increasing the scale and efficie ncy of aquaculture activities in Lao PDR. However, in most rural areas visited in Lao PDR during the study, aquaculture is considered as a side activity integrated with other agricultural activities. There are good opportunities to further integrate aquaculture into existing agricultural livelihood systems. The majority of men and women fish farmers interviewed conducted aquaculture primarily for household food security, with income generation as an added bonus only where surplus fish were produced. Fish production for food security is considered to require low labour intensity once established. There are high levels of interest among women farmers towards aquaculture. However there are high labour and financial entry costs for pond based aquaculture, which only some farmers may be able to sustain. Income generation from fish production may also incur higher labour demand. Both women and men are involved in aquaculture, although each may have different roles at different st ages of the fish production cycle. There are few cultural constraints to women's participation in most aquaculture activities. In Lao PDR men select the site for pond construction and as heads of households are regarded as owners of ponds. While men often make the major decisions concerning the production system, the production from ponds also depends on the time and effort allocated by women and children for pond management and for feeding of the fish. Men are responsible for harvesting the ove rall yield; women are often responsible for harvesting fish for household consumption. Women control the cash income from the selling of fish at the pond site and in the market, although consultation with their husbands on household expenditure is common. Income distribution within the household is relatively equitable, so income generated from aquaculture is likely to benefit entire households. Older women (over 40) may be more suitable for involvement in aquaculture activities. Only experience d (e.g. > 3 years) and relatively better off men and women farmers are likely to be able to engage in mini-hatchery enterprises.

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