The bountiful land of India has undergone a renaissance in the field of agriculture. There was a time when Savitribai Phule championed the cause of women folk in the villages during the British era and strove hard to bring equal rights for women in the Indian hamlets. Today, it is a matter of pride to see so many multi-tasking women wielding the responsibilities of farming business as well as managing their homes. It is commonplace to see such dynamic women entering the field of agriculture and this is a positive trend towards bridging the gender gap. A progressive and a broad-minded approach, and recognition of the role of rural women will play a vital role to help our country grow and prosper.
In the age-old days, men were predominantly hunters, while women stayed home, kept guard of the house, did the domestic work and also tilled the ground to grow basic produce. The responsibility has grown manifold now with women entrepreneurs keen on understanding the new methodologies in farming, resource management to grow more using less, livestock management and also understanding how to avail loans and subsidies which are provided by the government in order to promote women emancipation in the agrarian areas. The Vibrant Saurashtra Expo and Summit 2018 is an event to applaud the works of such ambitious women who have contributed significantly in and innovated the field of agriculture.
The government is already making several changes to credit women for various successes in agriculture and to promote a better and a healthier women participation in this field. About 30% of the budget allocation is done for women farmers in several schemes. Various platforms providing machine equipments on rent to women have been developed, thus positively affecting women participation. Self-help groups are also being promoted to impart agro training programmes which are beneficial for women farmers to maximize their output. Thus a holistic approach for women agri entrepreneurs and women farmers is on the cards of the Government, which also contributes in doubling the income of a farmer family.
Feminisation of agriculture is the paradigm in today’s India. Agriculture in Gujarat is slated for new changes in rural farming as women are taking major roles in the farmlands. The scenario now in the rural areas is not about women artisans or women cultivators. It is about women farmland owners who are understanding technology, digitalization, finance, marketing and moving into a new zone that is enhancing their business acumen. The VSES2018 is a unique stage to celebrate the contribution of women farmers. The grassroots reformation is a major aspect in the lives of rural women farmers. They have the wherewithal and know-how not only about farming but also about technology, sustainability and packaging.
The UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation opines that if women farmers join agriculture, then the production improves by at least 30 percent, which is a boon to countries like India. Thus, the problem of hunger and poverty will be remarkably lower. With modernity seeping in the villages, the patriarchal culture of land holding is seeing a change as nowadays women are entrusted with property rights and thereby have access to land holdings. Showcasing the visibility of Indian women farmers is one of the major objectives of VSES2018.
The largest employer in India is the Agricultural sector and this essentially needs to be validated. The government is focusing on promoting women farmers with women-friendly loan schemes and interventions. A major initiative by our Prime Minister in the budget is the ATMA scheme – Agriculture Technology Management Agency Scheme, wherein minimum 30 % applications need to be from women beneficiaries. The support is also given by women food security groups which include livestock farming as an allied incentive. Gender coordinators ensure representation of women who are decision makers. They are also provided with finance for seed, revolving financers so that the participation is always encouraged.
The future of Indian agriculture thus seems more positive with the women in the forefront.