Women’s participation in agriculture as cultivators, labours and entrepreneurs is constantly increasing since 1970s (Duwury, 1989; and Venkateshwarlu, 1999).
The main reason behind feminisation of agriculture is- the migration of men from rural areas to urban areas in search of better economic opportunities.
However, they end up forming the under belly of major cities. Here, they mostly work as construction labourers which does not provide a regular income. The availability of jobs is not constant over time due to the informal nature of the work.
Therefore, these men don’t give up agriculture and their land completely as it ensures a constant minimum income for the family back home. Rather, they leave their wives in charge of the land.
The major female population in agriculture is due to this fact. Others include family inheritance, death of husband or single women/mothers (due to separation or irresponsible husbands).
In 2008 FAO, IFAD and World Bank stated that around 80% of smallholder rural farmers in the world were women. According to UN 45-80% of women in labour sector worked in agriculture.
Problems faced by women in agriculture
Rural women are responsible for proper use of diverse natural resourses and inclusive management to provide daily needs of their household and others.
For this, female farmers need to have access to land, credit, technology, water and training.
According to the Census 2011, among the total number of main female workers, 55% constitute female agricultural labours and 24% female cultivators.
The sad part is, only 28% of women own operational land holdings.
The ownership of land is the main concern in the field of agriculture for women.
Proper ownership of land will allow them to contact banks for institutional loans because mainly the land is considered as collateral. Ownership of land will also enable them to take advantage of various government or non-government schemes for agriculture that provide technology and inputs.
Apart from ownership, other challenges are taking care of children and household along with working in fields and socially unacceptable environment.
They are constantly discouraged by family and people in the work circle. It’s hard for women to get hold of informal loans as their capability is often underestimated.
The government in its report said that it will provide 30% of the budget for the women beneficiaries “in all ongoing schemes/programmes and development activities.”
It will also initiate women centric activities to make sure that the various schemes and programmes reach them. However, the concern is how universal will this step be.
It will also try to connect women through self-help groups (SHG) to help them with micro-credit and capacity building. These groups can also assist them with information and representation in decision making.
It is extremely essential that these interventions have a universal reach and are not just for paper work.
Education and right information are the most crucial aspects for women’s growth in this area. Women can overcome the social biases, if they are aware of the proper tools and opportunities available to them.
With the help of proper information, they will be able to exercise their agencies and get hold of technology and inputs available to them.
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