EDIBLE WILD FRUITS BUSINESS IN SONGEA DISTRICT, TANZANIA: AN ANALYSIS OF THE EXISTING GENDER RELATIONS

Michael J. Haule

Abstract


Wild fruits constitute an important natural resource which lays underexploited in most of the communities of Tanzania, hence deserves attention. As wild fruit business involves both women and men, the analysis of existing gender relations need to carried out for ascertaining relations. The prominent engagement of people of one sex category in the sector would partly signify gender bias; hence demanding for detailed explanation. Under circumstances of gender bias, diverse socio-economic roles in wild fruits sector could be liable to dictating the gender patterns. Existing vast literatures have failed to depict and document the reasons for the observed gender bias; thus this study was to be undertaken. A qualitative study was conducted in four localities of Songea District aimed at digging down the origin of the differential gender roles in wild fruits business sector, thus unveiling the causes of the lopsided gender relations, In-depth Interviews (IDIs) were conducted using interview guides. Women were found to be the main actors in wild fruits business mainly due to socio-economic and cultural reasons which places women at the centre of small scale, “unrecognized,” business activities, characterized by low but dependable household incomes. Since women are traditionally denied from land ownership, they are forced to plunge into “free” small scale businesses requiring no capital except labour power, i.e. their ability to walk to the forest to collect wild fruits. Therefore, no wonder, that wild fruits business remains to persistently be localized and concretely placed under women’s domain mainly due to the interplay of the above socio-cultural and economic factors. Raising gender awareness among people of the area concerning importance and the potential of wild fruits business is critical for people of both sexes to actively engage in the sector. Active engagement culminates into improved production, standardized processing and expanded market from local to national and international levels.

Keywords


Wild Fruits Business, Gender, Women, Tanzania

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