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Abstract

In many respects it is Jamaican women who play a pivotal role in small-scale farming, particularly in marketing farm produce. More highly educated than men, and gender-wise, women farmers are highly self-reliant; however, their socio-economic strength is not fully capitalized through cooperative endeavors to foster productivity on their farms. This research examines women’s cooperatives and the operations of women farmers in two remote rural communities using focus group discussion and targeted on-site investigation approaches. We find that over the years, small farming cooperatives are unsustainable because of their land-tenure problem, and lack of decision-making power at the grassroots level. The research suggests that the potential of women farmers in rural Jamaica has not been well utilized to foster their farming cooperatives. Crucially needed is the promotion of grassroots-based farming groupings to ensure the durability of cooperatives, as well as a multi-sector approach in agriculture, and the intensification of appropriate technological applications in all stages of farming, coupled with micro-food processing. Furthermore, a conducive environment for agricultural production and economic return requires land reform, increasing marketing opportunities, and cooperatives based on the diversification of agricultural and non-agricultural activities.

Note on the Author

Amani Ishemo is an Associate Professor in the Faculty of the Built Environment at the University of Technology, Jamaica. Dr. Ishemo has held posts as Senior Regional Planner in Tanzania and Physical Planner Specialist with the United Nations Development Program in the Eastern Caribbean. His main research interests lie in Rural Development, Disaster Management, Land Use Planning and Migration. In 2012 he was awarded The UTech President’s Award for Excellence in Research. In 2010, he received The Emerald Literati Network Award for Excellence for his impressive paper on the vulnerability of urban coastal settlements in Jamaica. He received his Ph.D. in environmental management from the University of the West Indies in 2005, a Master’s degree in Urban and Regional Planning from Ball State University in 1984, and a B.A. in Sociology from the University of Dar-Es-Salaam in 1980.

Brenda Bushell is a Professor in the Department of English Language and Literature at the University of the Sacred Heart, Tokyo, Japan. She teaches courses in gender and sustainable society, as well as English for academic purposes. Her ongoing research, supported by the Japanese Ministry of Education, focuses on women entrepreneurs in Nepal and the challenges they face in the informal business sector. She holds a Master of Education from Temple University, a Master in Women’s Studies from the University of Toronto, and an Honours B.A. in Health Sciences from the University of Western Ontario.

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