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Re: Care farming: an innovative approach for promoting women’s economic empowerment, decent rural employment and social inclusion. What works in developing countries?

George Kent Department of Political Science, University of Hawai'i, United States of ...

Greetings –

At the beginning of this discussion, on 16.04.2014, I reflected on the similarities and differences between care farming and caring communities. Care farming is an expression of the broader caring that is found in strong communities.

There has been a rich exchange since then, so I would like to offer a few more observations.

We should give attention to possibilities for farming that is undertaken to produce farm products needed by particular groups. For example, one might imagine farms that are devoted to raising crops that would help to meet nutrient deficiencies that are important in the local area.

Some farms could be devoted to raising crops specifically to meet needs of young children for complementary foods, as they wean from their breastmilk diets. This would fit nicely with Kanchan Lama ‘s 17.04.2014 call for child care to allow women to be fully involved in farming. Instead of working on farms that serve the general community, perhaps they could work on farms that focus on producing crops that are of special interest to women, especially those who are pregnant or new mothers. Child care could be provided at the farm site, thus making it easier for mothers to breastfeed. Facilities could be provided to enable the women to meet together to discuss their concerns about child feeding, as they do in La Leche League meetings that are common in high income countries. They could also discuss how the farmed products should be prepared for their young children.

That sort of arrangement would ensure better child care than that illustrated in the photo provided by Hajnalka Petrics on 24.04.2014.

On 23.04.2014 PV Hariharan asked, what is empowerment? I suggest: Empowerment is the increasing capacity of individuals and communities to define, analyze, and act on their own problems. Empowerment can be facilitated by outsiders, and there are also possibilities for self-empowerment, based on local initiatives.

Using this concept, we could say that care farming is empowering if it increases its beneficiaries’ capacity to care for themselves. David Nkwanga provided a good example on 23.04.2014, when he explained the Nature Palace foundation helps children and youth with disabilities obtain the skills and other resources needed to engage in profitable market gardening.

On 24.04.2014 Gina Seilern provided some links to studies about well-being and its determinants. It does include references to the importance of social connections, but it does not speak specifically about caring, the desire to act to benefit others.

It would be interesting if some of the specialists on well-being were to focus their attention on the well-being of communities. They could then explore how the quality of life of individuals depends on the quality of their communities.

On 28.04.2014 Mildred Crawford shared the experience she and others in her country have had in sharing food, farming skills and other resources with others for free. These relationships, usually informal, probably are far more widespread than anyone has recognized. These are expressions of deep caring at the community level, something that seems to be invisible to most economists and government officials. More should be done to recognize and understand these relationships.

Aloha, George