By Smitha Kurup, Scientist, Mahyco
To a world, where women constitute about 43 percent of the total global labour force in agriculture
Yesterday I ended up in a discussion about the important role men are playing in the society and I couldn’t help laughing!! The fact is ignorant people sometimes forget that women play a key role in almost every sphere of life; from taking decisions for the country to the food we eat. Working in the agriculture field, I have seen the contributions of my colleagues in the research and advancement of the sector, a testimony to the undisputed role they play. They have more knowledge on both primitive and modern methods of agriculture and are eager to contribute, learn and adopt newer technologies in farming.
I am especially inspired by the women farmers. When the women of Marathwada in Maharashtra spearheaded the entire farming regime in March 2016 during drought, they proved how important they are to the agriculture industry in India. I was reading in Better India, about the story of Rekha who realised that if she grew crops that weren’t water intensive, it would be more feasible. Today, she is able to earn enough for her family, more than what her husband could provide for. If given proper guidance and motivation, women can take a lead in agriculture uplifting the socio-economic status of rural India. My own experience in developing women entrepreneurs in agriculture (protected cultivation as well as conventional vegetable farming) in a very small village says so. Contribution of women from self help groups in each village is accounted in this regard. It is essential to empower women through agriculture as it reduces manpower by over 84% and as a result, adds to a faster yield in food production.
Women farmers are earning accolades across the globe. In Script Agatha Ngoma, a small-scale farmer in Zambia, South Africa participated in every development programme that came to her village and took to conservation farming that changed the way how farming was done in her village. (Read her story on this website)
Indian ecosystem is committed to supporting women and help them take a lead and the National Policy for Women in Agriculture, 2008 is a step towards it. Most of them revolve around eradicating gender gap, ensuring women’s control over land, recognizing single women farmers such as widowed or abandoned. Women can make a huge difference to the agricultural economy with better resources and advanced techniques. It sheds light on the fact that women farmers are one of the most crucial assets of the farming industry.