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Title: Food security, gender roles, and information exchange in the shrimp farming industry of Sri Lanka
Author: Wu, Jessica Pingsi
Advisor: Checkley, Sylvia
Keywords: Fisheries and Aquaculture;Epidemiology;Public Health
Issue Date: 9-Feb-2015
Abstract: Ensuring household food security is an ongoing global concern. In Sri Lanka, years of civil war and natural disasters have posed a challenge in terms of decreasing poverty. One of the pathways out of poverty and improved food security is through smallholder aquaculture. With underutilized aquatic resources, the country is well placed to further develop aquaculture in the country including shrimp farming. Prior to expanding shrimp farming in the country, more information was needed about the current state of shrimp farming and the potential of this livelihood to provide an equitable pathway to food security. A cross-sectional survey of smallholder shrimp farmers (n = 225) was used to examine the socio-demographics, household food security, gender roles, sustainability of practices, and social networks of information exchange within the industry. Two provinces, the North Western Province (NWP) and Eastern Province (EP), were targeted as having established shrimp farms and the opportunity for expansion in the EP. Results demonstrated that the industry was male dominated and that farmers represented different demographics than the general Sri Lankan population. Women in the NWP participated in more on-farm activities compared to women in the EP. The majority of shrimp farmers were food secure and had a higher socioeconomic status than the general population. Men and women within the same household also perceived food insecurity differently. Farmers primarily utilized other farmers for information on shrimp production. Although the relationship is complex, the number of contacts a farmer had was associated with sustainable practices. A qualitative study of female shrimp farm owners revealed that few women own shrimp farms and a few of these women have experienced discrimination as women in the industry. Results indicate that a one-size-fits all intervention would not be appropriate in Sri Lanka as there are differences in farmers in the NWP and the EP, and certain groups of people may be more interested in shrimp farming. Courses and extension services should be available in both Sinhala and Tamil. Increasing women’s participation in shrimp farming should only be considered in light of cultural gender roles and motivations of women to work in shrimp farming.
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