A study on gender participation in post-production operations of selected fruits in Trinidad and Tobago
Keywords:Gender participation, post-production operations, mango, papaya, preserved fruit products
AbstractThis study was undertaken in Trinidad and Tobago as part of the project, ‘Enhanced Preservation of Fruits using Nanotechnology’, which focussed on pre- and post-harvest treatments for delayed ripening and post-harvest extension of shelf life of fruits. The purpose was to gauge the type of impact the project outcomes was likely to have on post-production operations for mango and papaya through increased availability of fruit for processing and the potential effect on gender participation in Trinidad and Tobago. Convenience sampling was used to collect data from six countries in Trinidad and Tobago. Retail outlets located along major roadways in Central and South Trinidad were surveyed. Additionally, phone surveys of processors (well-established processing plants and cottage industries) located in Tobago and in East, Central and South Trinidad were conducted. A structured questionnaire was administered to respondents at mini-marts, supermarkets and roadside parlours. Frequency counts and percentages were used to analyse the data collected. Four main activities were identified – i) the production of preserves in well-established processing plants and cottage industries, ii) the production of preserves in small-scale home units, iii) the distribution and sale of products from the processing plants and cottage industries, and iv) sale of products from home processing. Findings revealed that, in all cases, the production of preserves and other processed products from mango and/or papaya occurred alongside the production of preserves and snacks from other commodities, and that production was always linked to availability of the raw material for processing. In all cases encountered in the survey, preserved products from mango and papaya were made from unripe fruit. The major source of preserved fruit sold in retail outlets was well-established processing plants and cottage industries located across the island with smaller quantities coming from home processing. Retail outlet operators indicated that preserves were delivered to them via middlemen so that negotiations for sale occurred between the operator of the retail outlet and middlemen, with no input from processors. Most of the surveyed processing plants and cottage industries (71%) were owned and/or managed by men. Men were also predominant as middlemen in the collection and transport of preserves to retail outlets. Women were more likely to be the sole operators in retail outlets, particularly in roadside parlours (83%) and mini-marts (64%). The study also found that of the respondents interviewed, those engaged in home processing of mango and other fruits were all female, selling the preserved snacks in their own or family-owned roadside parlours. Given the survey results, it was concluded that the potential for increased utilization of mango and papaya fruit in preserved forms would be greatly enhanced by the project outcomes that resulted in increased availability of fruit in the unripe state. Further, this was likely to affect females more than males, since mostly females were sole operators in retail outlets, and were engaged in relevant post-production processing activities at the household level as well as in the sale of preserved products for increased household income.