Women Farmers in India #MakeItHappen (Part 2)

Posted by on March 6th, 2015 | 0 Comments »

Global Harvest Initiative Celebrates International Women’s Day, March 8th

Around the world, women play a pivotal role in agriculture and increasing their productivity is critical to meeting the global agricultural imperative of 2050.  To achieve this, women farmers need access to information, technologies, financing and markets – but in many places in the world, this access can be hard to come by.  Global Harvest Initiative’s 2014 Global Agricultural Productivity Report® (GAP Report®) provides several examples of programs that are improving women’s access to the technology and training they need to be more productive – as the follow story demonstrates, the benefits of their productivity extend far beyond the field.

Developing rice seedlings for transplantation helps ensure their quality and improve productivity.

Developing rice seedlings for transplantation helps ensure their quality and improve productivity.

In the State of Madhya Pradesh, the Tejaswini Rural Women’s Empowerment Program* has introduced a new technology for growing rice that is transforming the lives of women farmers.  The System for Rice Intensification (SRI) uses high-yielding certified seeds that are first tested for germination and then sown in a nursery with the right amount of water to ensure quality seedlings.  Within eight days, the seedlings are transplanted to the fields with uniform spacing.  Women farmers are bring trained to use and manage SRI at each critical stage of the process – nursery raising, transplantation and weeding.

In the village of Gadhar, many women had difficulty convincing their families to allow them to try the SRI technologies. As one resident, Mrs. Kulasti, explained, “Neither my husband nor my father-in-law believed that I could learn something that would be useful for the entire family.”  Mrs. Kulasti’s family acquiesced and allowed her to use half a hectare of their land to demonstrate the technique, but stipulated that if her production was lower than their side (with the traditional method), then she would have to work extra hours outside the home to earn the deficit.

Mrs. Kulasti produced twice as much rice as her family on the same amount of land using substantially less seed. Her experience was similar to many other women and the high levels of productivity convinced other families to adopt the SRI technology as well.

Weeders make it easier for women to tend fields once the rice starts growing.

Weeders make it easier for women to tend fields once the rice starts growing.

The success of SRI changed attitudes in Gadhar and people are increasingly open to new ideas.  Villagers are growing maize as a second crop and further diversifying their production by growing tomatoes, eggplant, coriander, spinach, spices and chilies in their backyards or upper land. The village started making collective decisions about agricultural production – something they had never done before.

Now, Gadhar has surplus food, extra income and almost no cases of child malnutrition.  Men help with farming since they are willing to use the mechanical weeders, while hand weeding was considered women’s work.  Women have more confidence and leadership roles, and they do not have to work as laborers in order to earn additional wages.

*The Tejaswini Rural Women’s Empowerment Program is supported by the UN International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and is implemented by the Department of Women and Children’s Development for the State of Madhya Pradesh.

« Women Farmers in India #MakeItHappen (Part 1)
Articles of Interest: 3 Maps Explain India’s Growing Water Risks »

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