Did you know that agriculture can drive growth and reduce poverty? But unfortunately, many nations are not making the most of this chance. This is due to barriers barring women from working actively in agriculture and the rural economy.
In India, farming is nothing without customs, interpersonal relationships, and gender roles, and women who work in farming are in no small amount, and they use many kinds of methods. However, this has led to negative consequences such as poverty and marginalisation, further exacerbating issues of gender inequality. In addition, agriculture links closely to important issues such as economic independence, decision-making power, agency, and access to education and healthcare. Let us look at these factors and how women farmers can help the Indian economy.
Women and Agriculture – Some Facts
Women play a crucial role in the agricultural sector worldwide. Globally, women make up about 43% of the agricultural labour force. But crop, production cycle, age, and ethnic group can impact their involvement. In rural areas, women tend to have a heavier workload than urban men. This is due to their unpaid home duties, which include food preparation, fuel and water collection.
As many as 84% of rural women in India rely on agriculture for their daily livelihood. Women comprise roughly one-third of farmers and nearly half of the agricultural labourers. But then again, these figures do not include their work in ancillary food production sectors. Women’s involvement in growing a wide range of crops is no joke. They contribute to farming the lion’s share of crops, from tea to cotton and oil seeds. But what needs to change is that their work I considered unskilled.
Despite their significant contribution to the agricultural sector, women in India still face many disadvantages, including lower wages, limited access to land, and a lack of participation in local farmer organisations. These challenges often result in negative outcomes for their families, such as poorer health and lower educational achievement for their children. Therefore, it’s time to empower women in agriculture and recognise their essential role in ensuring food security and sustainable development.
Women and New India
The ‘New India’ requires rural women to carry the torch for social, economic, and environmental change. Empowering women in agriculture may have a positive economic impact on women’s selves, homes and communities.
Farmers significantly impact India’s economic development because they account for 73.2 per cent of rural women workers. In addition, women perform the majority of large farming tasks. From driving tractors to VST Tractor in India, they are becoming an irreplaceable part of the Indian farm industry.
Giving women equal access to facilities as men will increase agricultural productivity by about 2.5 per cent while increasing farm yields by 20 to 30 per cent. It will transform these women into Atma Nirbhar and the entire nation.
Empowering and integrating rural women into the agricultural workforce can result in a paradigm shift towards economic growth. It will improve food and nutrition security and reduce hunger and poverty. Everyone will benefit if the Sustainable Development Goals are met by 2030.
The role of women in agriculture and related fields
Women have made significant contributions to the growth of the agricultural sector and other related industries. The nature and extent of women’s participation in agriculture vary greatly by region. There are areas where women are taken to be bare unskilled workers, and there are places where women drive agricultural mini tractors as well. Streamlining their importance all over the nation seems to be the need of the hour.
According to historians, women were the first to tame the crop and begin the art and science of farming. In most developing countries, including India, women are thought to play a larger role in post-harvest activities than in other agricultural tasks. Post-harvest tasks such as grading, packaging, cleaning, cleaning, storing, and drying are dominated by women.
Ever since the inception of civilization itself, women took up the role of gathering, while men took up the role of hunting. Right from the first ever civilisation, they have their hand in farming. There are records of women doing so from the Indus Valley Civilisation itself.
Women perform land preparation, sowing, nursery management, transplantation, weeding, irrigation, fertiliser application, plant protection, harvest, winnowing, storage, and other agricultural tasks.
Milk and livestock sales supplement rural women’s income. Women play a key role in managing livestock, particularly in goat, poultry, dairy, piggery, fishing, and goat rearing, processing, and marketing, as caretakers, feed gatherers, and birth attendants. Another activity they engage in is milk production.
Women are thought to be heavily involved in agriculture and related industries, whether through traditional or modern methods, for survival or as agricultural workers. It is critical to recognise women’s contributions to agriculture and related fields.
Agricultural services continue to concentrate minimal emphasis on reaching out to female farmers or farmworkers. Administrators and policymakers continue to believe that men are the farmers and that women have just a “supporting role” as farmers’ spouses. The new India must end this cycle, and women must break free from their constraints and become self-sufficient. This would empower women and the country as a whole, propelling it forward in the global landscape.