From invisible farm women to agri-preneurs
Through self-help groups, rural women are witnessing changes in their role in the agricultural sector — from “invisible” farm laborers to entrepreneurs.
Women now provide half of the labor in rice cultivation in India, according to the International Rice Research Institute ( IRRI) Farm Household Survey (2008-10).
They do most of the tedious and backbreaking work in rice cultivation such as nursery raising, transplanting, weeding, harvesting, and threshing. In spite of their significant contributions, the women are only recognized as wives of farmers—not as farmers.
However, this image of rural women has begun to change in Munger in the eastern state of Bihar through the ITC Limited Social Investment Programme-Mission Sunehra Kal (Golden Future).
ITC is a private company noted for its sustainability practices and innovations to make markets more inclusive for the poor. In 2014, it started a program in the district of Munger to provide women farmers with enhanced skills and knowledge.
ITC collaborated with the Self-Employed Women’s Association, comprising poor self-employed women who earn a living through their own labor or small businesses, as its project implementing partner. ITC also works in partnership with the Cereal Systems Initiative for South Asia (CSISA) for technical guidance.
The program, Enhancing skills and knowledge of women farmers, aims to boost agricultural production by empowering rural communities to conserve, augment, and manage their environmental capital through sustainable agricultural practices.
Through this action-research partnership, the target rural women are witnessing changes in their role in the agricultural sector.