Prof (Dr.) R.D. Gupta
Of late, there has been a growing realisation with regard to the role and participation of women in. national development and agricultural economy. Women participation in economically productive activities is not new but is as old as agriculture came to fore about 10,000 to 12,000 years ago. It is believed that women’s share as labour hours has increased disproportionately to that of men. They also constitute half of the agricultural labour force and contribute more towards family income. However, their role in agriculture mainly depends upon the size of land holdings, their class and caste. The extent of women’s participation also varies according to local cropping pattern and whether the agricultural activities are mechanised or labour intensive. In large farm families, women generally do not work in fields but their work load increases due to handling of produce in large quantities and supervision of the hired labourers. They also advise their men about the matters related to farming. The younger women in the families do not generally participate in decision making. With economic mobility in the effluents, there is an alteration in the status of women. Withdrawn from the field work, the women’s work load is not reduced but becomes more home-based. However, there are individual differences among work pattern of farm women.Although some of the operations are defined as gender specific such as preparation of land, application of fertilizers, use of pesticides being done by men, yet operations like transplanting, weeding, compost making, storage are being done by women.The main areas of economic activity for rural women include agriculture labour and as cultivators. Farming, livestock, forestry, fisheries, plantations, orchards, mining and quarrying etc.; provide work for about 90 per cent of women workers of which 40 per centare cultivators and 50 per cent are agricultural labourers.It is emerged from the foregoing literature that although the contribution of rural women in agriculture is well recognised, yet they are still lagging behind in the latest agricultural technological transfer programmes. In order to enlist the potential involvement of farm women to augment agricultural production, their access to necessary agricultural technology vis-à-vis availability of credit, input supply and marketing facilities has to be implemented at all levels.Some of the very important measures to be adopted with regards to the transfer of technology in farm or rural women are:i.Generation of appropriate agricultural technology in research stations of state Agricultural universities/ICAR stations and its modification after conducting trials in the farmers fields by various extension organisations in respect of its methodology and suitable approach become imperative for enabling rural women to have access to this technology. ii. As certain operations such as transplanting, weeding, compost making, seedstorage are mainly done by women so technologies in the aforesaid areas are required to be built up strongly.iii. Training and visit system must be fully employed to assist women farmers inrespect of agriculture and allied technologies. Such technologies must be emphasised using various methods and media.iv. Access of rural women in institutional credit and input supply can be increased by motivating them to enroll themselves in cooperatives. v. Women who keep cattle or goat and poultry, involve themselves in cleaning and feeding for them, training on feeds and fodders is very essential to make them aware of introducing improved grasses in the grass lands like Anjan grass (Cenchrus ciliaris), orchard grass (Dactylis glomerata) and Desmodium spp. vi. Most of the women prefer village as venue of training, hence one to three months duration of training and afternoon hours are preferred for organizing training programmes. Winter months especially December, January, February are preferred for organizing training programmes. vii. As majority of total milk producers in dairy villages report lack of knowledge of scientific animal feeding and preservation practices as the main constraints on these lines for farm women, will prove an asset by way of playing crucial role in Indian economy. viii. Low quality forage a major constituent of ruminants ration, especially in tropics causes indigestibility due to slow rate of microbial break- down which results in nutrients loss in their dungs. Such dungs produce low quality of manures. Hence, necessary trainings to increase digestibility of low quality forages is required to be imparted to farm women in biotechnologies.ix. The application of new biotechnological methods in livestock industry have already generated a number of products for improving milk and meat production, animal health and food processing and will definitely continue to do so. Rural women are also required to have awareness among themselves about vegetables cultivation techniques vis-à-vis mushroom cultivation, bee keeping and organic farming. While dealing with organic farming, the role of vermicompost, vermi- wash, green manuring should be dealt in details as well as use of organic pesticides. x. While imparting trainings to rural women, one should take into consideration ‘Teaching by doing and learning by doing’, which are considered the main principles governing modus operandi under RAWE (Rural Agriculture Work Experience).xi. More women training programmes are needed to be exerted under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Development Guarantee Act (MGNREGA). A recent evaluation from Madhya Pradesh suggested that due to MGNREGA works taken upon lands of small farmers including farm women, cultivated area of these households increased by 15 per cent. xii. Increasing the efficiency, productivity and sustainability of small farms involving women is an area where Information Communication Technology can make a significant contribution. This technology must also include judicious use of fertilizers and pesticides to various crops besides other areas. Tell the farm women with regard to the significance of Soil Testing so that they may be able to apply fertilizers on the soil test basis. xiii. As farming involves risks and uncertainties with farming facing many threats from poor soils, climatic short falls, soil erosion and pests attack, so key improvement stem from information about pest and diseases control, new crop varieties, new ways to optimize production and regulations for quality control etc. xiv. Wherever, it is possible Agri-business centres are required to be set up involving the rural women. The main objectives of Agribusiness centres are to provide employment to agricultural graduates to supplement the efforts of Government Agricultural Departments in extension system.
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