DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE & COOPERATION
MINISTRY OF AGRICULTURE
Women form the most important productive work force in the economy of majority
of the developing nations including India.
Agriculture, the single largest production endeavour in India,
contributing 25% of GDP, is increasingly becoming a Female Activity. Agriculture sector employs 4/5th of all
economically active women in the country. 48%
of India’s self-employed farmers are women.
There are 75 million women engaged in dairying as against 15 million men
and 20 million in animal husbandry as compared to 1.5 million men.
conventional market-oriented narrower definition of ‘productive workers’,
almost all women in rural India today can be considered as ‘farmers’ in some
sense, working as agricultural labour, unpaid workers in the family farm
enterprise, or combination of the two. Moreover,
several farm activities traditionally carried out by men are also being
undertaken by women as men are pulled away into higher paying employment.
Thus, Rural India is witnessing a process which could be described as
Feminization of Agriculture.
simply supplying labour, women possess detailed knowledge of agriculture and use
of plant and plant product for food, medicine and animal feed.
Women today are central to the selection, breeding, cultivation,
preparation & harvest of food crops. Apart
from their pivotal role in cultivation of staple crops, they are primarily
responsible for the production of secondary crops such as pulses and vegetables
which are often the only source of nutrition available to their families. Women farmers also often possess unique knowledge about fish
farming and handle most of the work associated with it.
Efforts have been initiated in the recent past both by Governmental and
Non-Governmental Organizations to incorporate Gender Issues into the Development
Agenda to ensure women’s full and equitable participation in agricultural
development programmes. However, statistics still indicate that these efforts have
not been sufficient enough to bridge gender inequalities. FAO study conducted recently found that women in
developing countries contributed about 80% towards food production but received
only 2 to 10% of the extension support.
Agriculture Policy (NAP) has also highlighted incorporation of gender issues in
the agriculture development agenda recognizing women’s role as farmers and
producers of crops and live stocks; as users of technology; as active agents in
marketing, processing and storage of food and as agricultural labourer.
The policy states that high priority should be accorded to recognition
and mainstreaming of women’s role in agriculture.
Appropriate structural, functional and institutional measures are
proposed to be initiated to empower women and build their capacities and improve
their access to inputs such as land, credit and agricultural technologies.
Therefore, both for consideration of sustainability and equity, it is
essential that Agricultural Research and Extension is more women centred
reflecting the role of women as farmer.
significant contribution of women in the production process, an all pervasive
bias of development planners in treating them primarily as consumers of social
services rather than producers, kept them away from the development programmes
in agriculture and allied sectors. As
men and women have different roles and needs and face gender-specific
constraints, women may not automatically benefit from development activities,
but may remain excluded.
Census 1991 had registered that only 22.3% of adult female population of
India are workers, which may be a gross under statement since much of the work
that women do, other than in the domestic and care sectors, is not recorded in
the work participation format of the census.
In fact, a pilot Time Use Survey conducted by the Central Statistical
Organization came out with the starting revelations that 51% of the work of the
women which qualify for inclusion in GDP are not recognized and remain unpaid.
carried out so far in the field of agriculture indicate that despite the key
role of women in crop husbandry, animal husbandry, fisheries, forestry and
post-harvest technology, those in charge of formulating packages of
technologies, services and public policies for rural areas have often tended to
neglect the productive role of women. Consequently,
the developments of technologies, specifically tailored to women-specific
occupations and the involvement of women in technology development and transfer have received inadequate attention from both
scientific and administrative Departments of Government.
traditionally been discriminated in their access to productive resources and
have been denied ownership of land, cattle, trees, harvest and shelter.
They have even been discriminated in access to credit and marketing
facilities for their economic activities. It
is, thus, essential to develop strategies and mechanism to improve women’s
access to agricultural support services. Various
Ministries/Departments are working towards the goal but have often tended to
function in compartmentalized manner. These
fragmented efforts are not sufficient to bring about the desirable impact.
gender desegregated data and gender budgeting are the other key activities which
can help bridge gender inequalities.
Resource Centre (GRC)
The GRC is
contemplated to be a focal point for convergence of all issues related to
‘Gender in Agriculture’. The GRC would ensure that policies in agriculture reflect the
national commitment to Empowerment of Women.
The GRC would not only undertake and support training, research and
advocacy on gender issues in Agriculture & Natural Resources Management (NRM)
but would forge effective functional linkages with other related departments,
agencies and institutions.
Building on the
experiences of women specific programme on agriculture that have been in
operation, the GRC would identify critical gaps and help bridge these gaps along
two paths: one- through ‘strategy of mainstreaming’ and other through
‘strategy of agenda setting’. Mainstreaming
simply means that women must be given opportunity to fully participate and
benefit from all types of existing agricultural programmes.
Agenda setting means that women farmers may be provided with structural
and material resources so that they can participate and benefit at par with male
farmers in setting their development agenda.
and Responsibilities of GRC
collect, analyse and document information (both from primary and secondary
sources) on women in agriculture.
To act as a comprehensive data base & a clearing house to women
related policies/issues in agriculture and allied sectors including NRM.
To monitor and assess the Gender impact of various on going programmes of
agriculture and allied sector including NRM of Ministry of Agriculture and make
recommendation on appropriate improvements in their design/strategy.
To assess the gender impact of agricultural technologies and Research
Project on ‘women in agriculture’, identify/assess the agronomic based
drudgery prone activities of women and suggest ways to make these
technologies/tools gender friendly.
Identify & float macro/micro level studies to identify the needs,
requirements, potential and constraints faced by women in agriculture sector
especially in the areas of technological development, access to inputs, credit
and other productive resources, marketing intervention etc.
To review the existing laws and other Government decisions/measures
relating to basic production resources such
as land, water forest and to examine women’s access and control over these
basic resources and recommend necessary changes to protect women farmers right
To document, scientifically validate and disseminate
traditional/indigenous knowledge of women in agriculture and allied sector.
To forge effective functional linkages with various departments, agencies
and institutions including non governmental organizations and farm women groups;
document and disseminate lessons and experiences from on going initiatives taken
by these agencies/institutions in sustainable agriculture and NRM.
To collaborate with Agri. Research institutions to identify
technologies/crops/ processes in which women farmers have a comparative
advantage and develop a strategy for systematic capacity building on these
To undertake preparation of suitable training modules on gender
issues in agriculture and NRM which include gender sensitization modules
for policy planners and development managers.
the existing policies related to land, water, forests with
to their impact on women farmers and suggest remedial
to bring about structural changes, if required.
promote ‘action research’ on critical issues including
access to land, water, common property resources, impact of macro economic
changes on women farmer and implications of legal and regulatory framework on
vulnerable groups such as land less farmers, tribal farm women & those
affected by natural calamities.
organize national level interactions between policy
and women farmers to share concern, issues and perspectives and evolve concrete
policy recommendations. For the present, the work of GRC will be undertaken by
the Women Cell of Directorate of Extension which will be restructured as needed.
Last Updated On - 01 April, 2005