During my MSc in Food Marketing at UCC, as part of my course in quantitative research and analysis, I was given the assignment of freely research a self-chosen topic using secondary data sources (mainly the CSO).
I decided to investigate something that could have some social and economic significance. So I set my mind to examine the characteristics of female family farm holders in Ireland and the (COA), 2000 and 2010, in a document called:
WOMEN IN CHARGE OF THE FARM
A ten-year (2000-2010) comparison of the data about female farm holders
This research has been a eureka moment for me that made me understand how much I love research and gathering relevant data to analyse specific issues and reaching well-grounded conclusions. This project was very highly marked.
Here are my conclusions, but you can download the whole document here if you are interested:
In the decade that goes from 2000 to 2010 can be observed a slight increase in the number of female family farm holder.
But this increase is not very relevant in terms of a renewed role of the woman inside the farm. From this set of data, we can’t really assess the success of the politics put in motion around women and agriculture, because such politics had a much larger scope, involving awareness, education and safety among others. It must also be considered the changing in the socioeconomic landscape and the “crisis” of the family farm as an attractive and viable career.
And even if the family farm activity is carried out by the next generation, this is viewed predominantly as a male heritage. The increasing age of the female owners indicates a lack of generational turnover and the absence of interest of the young women to take in their hand the family farm.
This does not mean that the female presence is not relevant in the farm hold, but women rarely take in their hands the control of the farms. Instead, their effort has shifted toward a more off-farm dimension, in order to ensure the survival of the farm hold itself and comfortable life of their family, therefore the farm work is viewed much more as a subsidiary occupation.
Photo by: Paz Arando