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Women In Indian Agriculture

Women In Indian Agriculture

Why in news?

  • The recent farmer’s protest have shifted the focus on the role and contribution of rural women in agriculture.

Contribution Of Women In Agriculture Sector

  • The central role of women in any society ensures stability, progress and long-term development of a nation.
  • In agriculture sector primary focus is given to only one gender.
  • Women play a significant and crucial role in agricultural development and allied fields.
  • Role of women in agriculture sector cannot be ignored as they comprise 33% of the agriculture labor force and 48% of the self-employed farmers.
  • only 12.8 per cent of the operational holdings were owned by women, which reflect the gender disparity in ownership of landholdings in agriculture.

What Type Of Work Is Performed By Women In That Farm?

  • Sowing
  • Hoeing
  • Nursery Management
  • Transplanting
  • Weeding
  • Irrigation
  • Fertilizer Application
  • Plant Protection
  • Harvesting, Winnowing, Storing
  • Grass Cutting
  • Picking
  • Cotton Stick Collection
  • Separation Of Seeds From Fibre
  • Keeping Of Livestock Etc.

What Are The Roles?

The rural women are engaged in agricultural activities in three different ways:

  • Paid Labourers.
  • Cultivator doing labour on their own land.
  • Managers of certain aspects of agricultural production by way of labour supervision and the participation in post harvest operations.

Some facts | Women In Indian Agriculture

  • According to Agriculture Census 2015-16,
    • There is increase in female operational holdings from 12.8% (2010-11) to 14 % (2015-16)
    • There is rise in participation of females in management and/or operation of agricultural holdings in the country, also termed as feminization of agriculture.
    • The proportion of operated area managed by female operational holders has also increased to 11.8% in 2015-16 against 10.4 percent in 2010-11.
  • According to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), women constitute a 3rd of India’s agricultural labour force and contribute 55-66% to farm production.
  • According to Oxfam (2013), around 80 per cent of farm work is undertaken by women in India. However, they own only 13 per cent of the land.


Emerging Trend Of Feminization Of Agriculture

  • Migration: Rural to urban migration of male members have increased exponentially in past few years. With male out-migration, women have additionally taken on the role of providing for their households on a daily basis, since remittances are irregular. This means that they now have to take care of their own farming and also work as agricultural wage labourers.
  • Cheap and easily available agriculture labour: Women are more willing to accept low-paid irregular work, are easy to hire and fire, are thought to be docile and hardworking, and certain jobs are typified as women’s work such as picking tea.
  • Agrarian distress: It has led to a shift of male members to non-farm activities and pushed female members to perform agricultural and allied activities.

Issues faced by Women in Agriculture Sector

  • Illiteracy: Women workers in agriculture suffer from high illiteracy rate and drop-out of schools and have little awareness about the existing schemes, benefits, rights, etc. As a result of this female population engaged in agriculture has poor economic as well social growth.
  • Issues of low recognition and land ownership: Women involved in agriculture still fall behind in terms of land ownership. The main reason behind this is patriarchal social norms and limited awareness about their property rights.
  • Absence of decision-making power: Enhanced responsibility has not translated into decision-making powers over important issues such crop selection, division of duties, marketing etc.
  • Remuneration gap: Women in general are offered lower wages for agriculture labour, especially in informal and private sector. They can easily be fired or hired.
  • Limited to labor work: Mechanization of agriculture has resulted in confinement of women to labour intensive and menial roles such as winnowing, harvesting, sowing seeds and rearing livestock.
  • Lack of reassuring infrastructure: Technological interventions and infrastructural facilities in agriculture, in general, are not designed with women farmers in mind.
  • Low representation in administrative bodies: Women have no representation in agricultural marketing committees and other similar bodies.

What Can Be Done For Women In Agriculture Sector? | Women In Indian Agriculture


  • Gender sensitive education: Agricultural education be made gender sensitive and research, development, extension and services be engendered to give due recognition to the multiple role played by women agriculturists.
  • Enhancing representation of women in decisionmaking bodies: It is very important that women be also part of the decision making bodies so that more innovative structural changes can be introduced in agricultural sector.
  • Making agriculture technology women-friendly: Technological advancements in designing tools can play an important role in making farm equipment easy to use for women.
  • Promoting women SHGs: Women Self Help Groups can be proactively engaged in value addition of agri produce at village level.
  • Introducing women centric schemes: In addition, beekeeping, fishery, poultry, animal husbandry have major scope for women farmers and women centric schemes in these sectors can be promoted in consultation with the representatives of women farmers.
  • Easy loans for women in agriculture: Prioritizing women in accessing credit on soft terms from banks and other financial institutions for acquisition of land, assets and agricultural inputs.
  • Awareness generation among women regarding their inheritance rights coupled with access to judicial relief and redress, removing discrimination through legal reforms, and providing legal aid, assistance and counseling.
  • Skill development: Skill development training needs to be delivered to women farmers to train them in areas of field operations, organic farming etc.

Steps Taken By The Government

  • ICAR-Central Institute for Women in Agriculture (ICAR-CIWA): It is a first of its kind institution in India that is exclusively devoted to gender related research in agriculture.
  • Mahila Kisan Sashaktikaran Pariyojana (MKSP): The Department of Rural Development, Ministry of Rural Development is implementing MKSP to empower women in agriculture by making systematic investments to enhance their participation and productivity, as also to create and sustain their agriculture-based livelihoods.
  • Additional support in existing schemes: The Department of Agriculture Cooperation and Farmers Welfare is also providing additional support and assistance to female farmers, over and above the male farmers under various Schemes namely Agri-Clinic & Agri-Business Centre (ACABC), Integrated Schemes of Agricultural Marketing (ISAM), Sub-Mission of Agricultural Mechanization (SMAM) and National Food Security Mission (NFSM).




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