The government is trying to ensure that women become part of the mainstream agriculture, reap the benefit of every penny spent on agriculture and contribute to agricultural productivity and production and in doubling the income of their families, Union Agriculture and Farmers Welfare Minister, Radha Mohan Singh said today.
Addressing a conference in New Delhi on “Securing Rights of Women Farmers: Developing a Roadmap for Action,” organised by the National Women Commission in association with UN Women and Mahila Kisan Adhikaar Manch (MAKAAM), Singh said that the government is taking several measures to enhance women participation in the mainstream agriculture and these measures include earmarking at least 30 percent of the budget allocation for women beneficiaries in all ongoing schemes/programmes and development activities and initiating women centric activities to ensure benefits of various beneficiary-oriented programs/schemes reach them.
The Minister said that his Ministry is also focusing on women self-help group (SHG) to connect them to micro-credit through capacity building activities and to provide information and ensuring their representation in different decision-making bodies.
Last year, the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare decided to celebrate 15th October of every year as Women Farmer’s Day. This marks a significant step forward in women empowerment, he added.
The participation of women in agriculture is well known. Over 80 percent financially independent women are engaged in farm-related activities in India and out of them, 33 percent are working as agricultural labourers and 48 percent are self-employed farmers.
According to National Sample Survey Office (NSSO) Survey, a decline in both male and female labour force in agriculture has been observed in the last three decades. The number of men in agriculture has decreased from 81 percent to 63 percent, and women from 88 percent to 79 percent. This so because deterioration in the number of women is significantly lower than the men and this can be easily called the feminization of agriculture. Union Agriculture Minister said that rural women’s contribution to the economy of the majority of the developing nations including India is vital. As per NSSO Survey, women lead almost 18 percent agricultural households and there is not a single area of agriculture in which they are not involved.
The Minister said that the female labourers are facing several inequalities. For instance, the work much longer hours than men and are paid lesser than their counterpart. Also, their ignorance about their rights, opportunities and facilities make their participation in agricultural all the more tougher. Having said that, women play multi-dimensional roles in agriculture – from sowing, harvesting, applying fertilisers, irrigation, plant protection to weeding, storing etc – they do it all while shouldering household chores like cooking, storing water, collecting fuel wood, maintaining the house among others. Women are active in other agriculture related activities like cattle management, fodder collection and allied activities related to dairy and agriculture such as beekeeping, mushroom farming, pig farming, goat rearing and poultry.