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No. 11: Interrelationships between labour outmigration, livelihoods, rice productivity and gender roles

Author: Thelma Paris

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The Asia and the Pacific Division of IFAD has just released Occasional Paper No.11: “Interrelationships between labour outmigration, livelihoods, rice productivity and gender roles”.

This paper summarizes the main results and implications of a research study analysing interrelationships among outmigration, livelihoods, rice productivity and gender roles in rice-growing villages in the Philippines, Thailand and Viet Nam.

Despite the many studies on patterns of and reasons for migrating within and outside a country, empirical studies on the effects of labour outmigration on the livelihoods of rice farmers and the welfare of family members who stay behind are few. Reduction in the supply of men’s family labour because of participation in non-farm work and migration will have repercussions on the management of farming systems, rice production and household welfare, particularly on women’s roles and responsibilities.

The goal of this research study was to guide rice researchers and agricultural extension workers in the design, evaluation and dissemination of appropriate technologies in areas of high labour outmigration. To pursue this major objective, the study:

  • assessed the incidence and patterns of labour outmigration in major rice production systems
  • examined the roles of rice, non-farm activities and remittances in livelihoods
  • assessed the effects of migration on the gender division of labour and on rice productivity
  • identified key constraints on the women who stayed behind to manage farms
  • recommended strategies (research and extension) and government policy options in response to the constraints and problems encountered by farming households, especially women farmers, due to labour outmigration.

The paper is divided into four sections. Section one discusses the methodology used in achieving the objectives. Section two presents the research findings, and section three offers a summary and conclusions. Section four provides recommendations for gender-responsive technology interventions, extension strategies and policy options.

The research was carried out by the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), the Philippines; Curtin University of Technology, Australia; Cuu Long Delta Rice Research Institute, Viet Nam; and Khon Kaen University, Thailand – with financial support from the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR).

Thelma Paris, Senior scientist (Socio-economist and gender specialist), International Rice Research Institute (IRRI)



Language:  English (United States)
Development Themes: Knowledge Management Agriculture
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