In order to empower the women farmers in India, the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare has decided to celebrate 15th October of every year as Women Farmer’s Day. A gender knowledge portal has been developed for women farmers in which the data and information related to women farmers have been displayed. Apart from this, the women have been linked actively with fisheries related activities like collection of fishery seeds, catch of small fishes, mussel, eatable oaster, collection of marine vegetation, fisheries marketing, fisheries processing as well as products development. They are providing training and micro financing for increasing their partnership and participation in fisheries sector so that their potentialities might be raised by organising them in a cluster resulting in a spirit of inspiration towards this end.
Union Minister of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare, Radha Mohan Singh has said that it is imperative to provide financial help to women so as to strengthen women cooperatives in the country as there is great potential for the development and success of women cooperatives. He further said that if this movement continues, more and more women will be benefitted through women cooperatives. Singh briefed it on a national workshop on strengthening of women cooperatives, organised by National Cooperative Development Corporation (NCDC) in New Delhi.
Agriculture Minister said that there is 1.2 billion population in India out of which about 70 percent reside in rural areas. Women play an important role from sowing to harvesting to post harvest management. Singh further added that only about 20,014 cooperatives are run by women out of the 8 lakh cooperatives in the country. The Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare ascertains partnership of women in all of its schemes as well as its programmes and earmarks 30 percent funds for women. Since, 2013-14, States and implementing agencies have been advised to utilise 10 to 20 percent of the funds for the livestock owned by women under the existing Centrally Sponsored/Central Sector Schemes for the empowerment of them.
In addition to this, the deployment of one female scientist in every Kendra has been made compulsory in 668 Krishi Vigyan Kendras (KVKs) spread all over the country. 3.1 lakh female agriculturists have been trained during 2016-17 by the KVKs across India. Apart from this, the participation of women agriculturists has been ascertained in different programmes like frontline demonstration and agricultural demo being conducted by Krishi Vigyan Kendras.
The National Cooperative Development Corporation (NCDC) specifically aims to provide funds for the production of agricultural yield, processing, marketing, storage, export as well as imports. NCDC provides financial assistance to women under the several programmes being run for weaker sections. The Corporation provides loan upto Rs. 50 lakh for programmes related to women cooperatives. Further, the schemes above the range of Rs. 50 lakhs enjoy the loans available on 0.50% and 0.25% less interest rate respectively. On this occasion The Minister said that a Central Institute for Women in Agriculture, Bhubneshwar has been established for women agriculturalists by Indian Council for Agricultural Research. This is the first and only institute for the women associated with agriculture in the world.
Singh further added that financial sanctions amounting to Rs 17,334 crore have been given till 28.02.2017 as well as a sum of Rs 11,579 crore has been distributed. This amount is almost double as compared to the distribution target of Rs 6000 crore this year. During this period the net NPA of the corporation has been nil and the recovery rate of the loans is more than 99.59 percent. While expressing his expectations, Agriculture Minister said that NCDC will continue its endeavours for the weaker sections through programmes related to fisheries, dairy, poultry, handloom, cooperatives concerned with SC/ST and specifically for the development of the cooperatives located in North-Eastern region as well as underdeveloped areas.
Almost 200 women linked with cooperatives across the country participated in the workshop and interacted with each other about different schemes related to women cooperatives.