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September 15, 2023
Overcoming Cultural Bias for an Inclusive Agricultural System
Agriculture is rooted in several cultural practices, but this doesn't mean it has to be biased. The future of agriculture can be equitable and sustainable. Read to learn how cultural bias can be overcome to create a better food system for everyone.
Brenda Nwaubani

Farming is a cultural practice that has been carried on for centuries by the values, beliefs, and traditions of different cultures. It is not surprising that agricultural systems are often based on the cultural practices of people and thus exhibit cultural biases.

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Cultural bias can be grouped into 2 groups:

Ethnocentrism: This is the belief that one’s own culture is superior to other cultures. This can lead to the marginalization of certain groups of people, such as women and indigenous peoples, who are seen as being less capable or less deserving of resources.

Cultural relativism: This is the belief that all cultures are equally valid and should be respected. This can lead to the exclusion of traditional knowledge and practices, which may be seen as being less scientific or less efficient than modern methods.

Photo by Deepak Kumar on Unsplash

Examples of these are seen in many cultures where women are responsible for agricultural tasks such as planting, harvesting, and processing food. They may not have the same access to land, credit, and training as men, limiting their ability to participate in agriculture and make a living from it.

There are cases where traditional knowledge and practices are excluded from agricultural systems. Farmers in many parts of the world have developed sophisticated knowledge of how to manage their land sustainably. However, this knowledge is often ignored by governments and development agencies.

Cultural bias can bring about several negative consequences for agricultural systems. Some of these are:

  • Reduced productivity: When agricultural practices are not adapted to the local culture, they may be less productive.
  • Increased food insecurity: When certain groups of people are excluded from decision-making processes, they may not have access to the resources they need to produce food.
  • Environmental degradation: When agricultural practices are not sustainable, they can damage the environment.
  • Gender inequality: In some cultures, women are considered subordinate to their male counterparts and have less access to land, funding, and other agricultural inputs.

To create an inclusive agricultural system, it is important to first acknowledge and understand that cultural bias exists. We must then develop strategies to address this bias and develop fair and sustainable policies Some acceptable solutions are:

  • Diversify the agricultural workforce, hire people from different backgrounds and cultures, and give them a voice in decision-making. When people from different cultures work together, they can share their knowledge and ideas, resulting in new sustainable solutions.
  • Integrate traditional knowledge and practices in agricultural systems. Traditional knowledge is often based on centuries of experience and observation and can be a valuable resource for improving agricultural productivity and sustainability. Stakeholders must recognize the value of traditional knowledge and find ways to incorporate it into modern agriculture.
  • Engage with the community: It is important to engage with the community to understand their needs and priorities. This can help ensure that farming practices are appropriate for local culture.
  • Promoting gender equality: Gender equality is essential for sustainable agricultural development. There is a need to promote gender equality in decision-making processes and agricultural policy implementation
  • Finally, we need to change the way we think about agriculture. Agriculture is beyond an economic, it is a social and environmental practice. This encompasses the needs of all people, including future generations, as well as the impact of agriculture on the environment.
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Overcoming cultural bias is not easy, but it is a task that must be done to create more inclusive and sustainable agricultural systems. By providing knowledge and training to rural farmers, FutuX is helping to shape the agricultural space, creating a more just and equitable system for everyone.