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Role of woman in agriculture

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India has a national tradition bound to agriculture fertility. In the North, the Indus valley and  Brahmaputra region are critical agricultural areas graced by the Ganges and monsoon season. Based on 2011 World Bank data, only 17.5% of India’s gross domestic product(GDP) is accounted for by agricultural production.Yet for a majority of the country, an estimated 72% of the 1.1 billion people who live in rural India, it is a way of life.

Agriculture in India defines familial tradition, social relations and gender roles. Female in the agricultural sector, whether through traditional means or industrial, for subsistence or as an agricultural laborer, represents a momentous demographic group. Agriculture is directly tied to issues such as economic independence, decision-making abilities, agency and access to education and health services and this manner has created externalities such as poverty and marginalization, and compounded issues of gender inequality
(Agrilearner)The international development community has recognized that agriculture is an engine of growth and poverty reduction in countries where it is the main occupation of the poor.

Agriculture is the backbone of the Indian economy. Women play a vital role in building this economy. Over the years, there is a gradual realization of the key role of women in agricultural development and their vital contribution in the field of agriculture, food security, horticulture, processing, nutrition, sericulture, fisheries, and other allied sectors.
(Agrilearner)Rural Women form the most important productive work force in the economy of majority of the developing nations including India. Rural women often manage complex households and pursue multiple livelihood strategies. Their activities typically include producing agricultural crops, tending animals, processing and preparing food, working for wages in agricultural or other rural enterprises, collecting fuel and water, engaging in trade and marketing, caring for family members and maintaining their homes. Many of these activities are not defined as “economically active employment” in national accounts but they are essential to the wellbeing of rural households. Statistical data are available regarding their participation in the agricultural sector and allied activities but their impact on the home environment has been completely ignored.

Variations in women’s participation in agricultural work depend on supply and demand factors linked to economic growth and agricultural modernization.

Farm women felt the impact on their children’s education to a large extent, as they were able to provide them with better educational facilities as well as chances to get an education outside the village. Non-farm women only felt this impact to a medium extent; they were able to provide better educational facilities by buying books and stationery but there were far fewer chances to get their children educated outside the village. The impact of liberalization and globalization on women is important not only because they represent almost half of the total population, but also because they face constraints, which make them less beneficial from the liberalization. Once different impacts are ascertained well designed policy responses may aid women in taking advantage of greater openness to agriculture.

Multi-Dimensional Role of Women:

Agricultural Activities:Sowing, transplanting, weeding, irrigation, fertilizer application, plant protection, harvesting, winnowing, storing etc.

Domestic Activities:Cooking, child rearing, water collection, fuel wood gathering, household maintenance etc.

Allied Activities:Cattle management, fodder collection, milking etc.

Despite women’s extensive and varied participation in agriculture, they continue to have less access than do men to modern agricultural inputs. As a result, their farm work is labor intensive and yields meager economic returns.
Rural women perform numerous labour intensive jobs such as weeding, hoeing, grass cutting, picking, cotton stick collection, separation of seeds from fibre, keeping of livestock and its other associated activities like milking, milk processing, preparation of ghee, etc. Details of activities taken up by women in Agriculture and its allied activities are as follows.

Agriculture

Mainly rural women are engaged in agricultural activities in three different ways depending on the socio-economic status of their family and regional factors. They work as:

Paid Labourers. Cultivator doing labour on their own land.Managers of certain aspects of agricultural production by way of labour supervision and the participation in post harvest operations.

The types of agricultural activities taken up by women include the following :

Sowing Nursery management Transplanting Weeding Irrigation Fertilizer application Plant protection Harvesting, winnowing, storing etc.

Livestock

Livestock is the primary livelihood activity used to meet household food needs as well as supplement farm incomes. It is a common practice in the rural areas to give an animal as part of a women’s dowry. Studies have revealed rural women earn extra income from the sale of milk and animals. Mostly women are engaged in cattle management activities such as

Cleaning of animal and sheds Watering of cattle Milking the animals Fodder collection Preparing dung cakes Collection farm yard manure

Except grazing, all other livestock management activities are predominantly performed by women. Men, however, share the responsibility of taking care of sick animals. It is evident that the women are playing a dominant role in the livestock production and management activities.

Poultry

Poultry farming is one of the major sources of rural economy. The rate of women participation in poultry farming at household level is central in poultry industry.

Feminisation of Agriculture

Economic Survey 2017-18 says that with growing rural to urban migration by men, there is ‘feminisation’ of agriculture sector, with increasing number of women in multiple roles as cultivators, entrepreneurs, and labourers. Globally, there is empirical evidence that women have a decisive role in ensuring food security and preserving local agro-biodiversity. Rural women are responsible for the integrated management and use of diverse natural resources to meet the daily household needs. This requires that women farmers should have enhanced access to resources like land, water, credit, technology and training which warrants critical analysis in the context of India. In addition, the entitlements of women farmers will be the key to improve agriculture productivity. The differential access of women to resources like land, credit, water, seeds and markets needs to be addressed.

With women predominant at all levels-production, pre-harvest, post-harvest processing, packaging, marketing – of the agricultural value chain, to increase productivity in agriculture, it is imperative to adopt gender specific interventions. An ‘inclusive transformative agricultural policy’ should aim at gender-specific intervention to raise productivity of small farm holdings, integrate women as active agents in rural transformation, and engage men and women in extension services with gender expertise.

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