Challenges of Women Empowerment in Agriculture

While the Government is bringing schemes for the women in agriculture and there are success stories here and there, there’s miles to go. Gauri Sarin, Founder, SAAHAS went to villages across India to find out. Here’s Gauri Sarin in her own words:

The most poignant questions like any public policy piece will have, the same questions even this piece is going to ponder upon:

  1. Which scheme is the best for women?
  2. The seen and unseen effects of which scheme are having a value addition to the cause.
  3. Can there be public and private partnership to help achieve the motive of women agripreneurship?
  4. Which institutions offer some villages of the best schemes or programs?
  5. How far are these programs are being a viable option for an average aspiring farming, agriculture entrepreneur women?
  6. But apart from all these, the biggest question would be that have any of these schemes even in their rude remote form reached the target populace?

To address these questions aptly, I decided upon a curiosity laden journey to non-descript but strikingly noteworthy villages, and some of the state institutions who are accorded with the duty to deliver to the women of the country.

To complete this research, I took the help of method of field analysis of questioning the beneficiaries and the conduit to those beneficiaries. Though this method is not without its own very limitations of personal hampering of the accounts. Still I went with the very idea that at least a direct account and veracity of the government record could be established.

The questionnaire

Question 1 do you know the names of these schemes/ have you ever heard of any of these schemes?   Mahila Kisan Sashaktikaran Pariyojana,  Udyogini Scheme, Dena Shakti Scheme, Support to States Extension Programme for Extension Reforms, Sub Mission on Seed and Planting Material. etc.

Question 2 do you know that there are several concessions on the farm tools and inputs specially for women?  

Question 2 do you think that any of these schemes help you

Question 3 what the problems in claiming the benefits

Question 4 what can you suggest as the probable alternatives/ ideas/ to improve the present functioning?

Question 5 which one of these schemes by far has been, a real game changer in women agripreneurship?

Question 6 Do you think that there is any potential for women agriprenureship in India

 Field analysis

Village Akhbarpur Fazilpur

Farmer 1, Kunwar Singh Atrey member, farmer association: –

When asked about these questions he refused to even have knowledge that any such scheme exist, the friends and family sitting around him said the same.

Farmer 2, Nasseb Singh :-

Even he had the same response but added that he knows few women in allied agriculture activity or in canteens who are employed by the government to work. Though he refused of any such benefits in the mainstream agriculture.  

Kaushalya khadi gram Udyog: – approved by khadi and village committee government of India. This organization is being Run by Nitin Tyagi,

The goal of the organization is to provide employment to village women in their spare time when they are not in farms with employment in allied activities of spinning khadi. 300 women are working under them they get insurance, scholarships, wages etc. this sector again faces a problem of lack of marketing according to the Mr. Tyagi.

Village Paniyala block development officer: – during the chat with him he confessed to the fact that the mainstream welfare scheme for women like MKSP is not known by him at all rather he knows about National Rural Livelihood Mission, which gives employment to women by dividing them into SHG in this process the women are sometimes given work in canteens and other such allied activities, in return they get insurances and education support.

Najibabad AIR Agri program guest: –  even he refuses to know about any of the schemes working for women in the mainstream agriculture.

Telangana village Saraswathi Guda :- to know more I asked my friend from his village in Telangana to do a survey for me with same question and he told me that none of the women knew of any such schemes. Neither did the men.

Such questions for many interviews received a perplexed look when such questions were asked in respect of mainstream agriculture activity. The common answer which I received by authorities and people concerned was that they don’t know that flagships schemes such as Mahila Kisan Shahaktikaran Pariyojana or any other such scheme exist in all the 3 villages 2 block development officer no one knew of this fact.

NRLM was the magic word which I was able to hear finally from a block development officer from Paniyala village of Roorkee. which according to him is divides women in group of 12 and gives them work, when I asked him to show me reports he showed me the exact groups which is available online.

Next stop was kaushlaya khadi gram udyog owned by Nitin Tyagi in partnership with the government whereby he receives all the inputs from the government and gets to keep the profit. This also benefits women by letting them have a share of profit from the khadi they make for the market. According to Nitin Tyagi he runs it as no profit no loss organization.

The common thread in all these organization where government schemes are being used are again only used by a group of women, only in the allied agriculture sector. Secondly the individual women beneficiary is a myth, or at least I couldn’t find one, in north India in mainstream agriculture, the only places such as in the east in Jharkhand we see the individual women getting direct benefit and having awareness about such schemes. (egg lac farming)

The question is why so when half of the village population is involved in the agriculture in one way or the another. Their labor is overshadowed by the male counterparts.

Keeping these dynamics in mind we can say that the agriculturally active states of the north suffer from the acute problem of women misrepresentation. And even in the east Indian state where I found out about one isolated event where the government gave support only to specific type of the crop of lac.

On internet we can find many instances data of help provided to women self help groups or women groups but not individual women farmers.

So clearly the role of any NGO in consolidating women groups and awaking them about the welfare help available from government in the mainstream agriculture can really help such women farmers. Because a trend has been set in rural India that women voice is heard or helped only when heard in chorus of self help groups or community.

This gap of consolidation and goal setting in the direction of women agreprenuership can only be achieved if NGO such as BHUMIJAA or SAHAAS could come together and form such women groups. Thus, it is necessary to understand that women agreprenuership will remain an elitist idea until the farmer women farmer who are dependent on farming for livelihood are included and guided and made aware of the schemes available.

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