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BLOG-47: Enhancing the Capacities of Farm Women

Surabhi Mittal and Vinod Hariharan explore the gender roles and decision making in wheat farming in India, based on empirical data in this blog.

Surabhi Mittal is Senior scientist (Agricultural Economist) at CIMMYT


Vinod Hariharan is Research Associate (Agriculture Economics) at CIMMYT




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  • Thank you Senior Colleagues and experts for appreciating our effort. I agree with the limitations that Dr. Rangnekar listed out. We are working on Gender in several other projects too and the inputs will be valuable to plan out studies.

  • Compliments to Surabhi Mittal and Vinod Hariharan for the blog on an interesting and very relevant subject of Enhancing Capacities of Farm Women and I am tempted to convey my views/ experiences on this subject – going beyond wheat crop.Let me start by saying that I am glad the authors have discussed Knowledge of women otherwise many of the studies on Women in agriculture (crop and livestock) are limited to discussing share or contribution of women in farm work and knowledge aspect is ignored.We need to look at the subject from two angles one is related to existence of Traditional Knowledge (and I would add Wisdom to that) and the other is Ways of Enhancing their knowledge and skills and thereby building their Capacities.Experience and observations in Western India indicate that women have comparatively more knowledge about crops like Paddy rather than wheat amongst cereal crops. Women are knowledgeable about some of the traditional crops but almost none about relatively new crops and Groundnut and Soybean (in oilseed producing areas) are good examples in this respect. Let me add that women are found to be more knowledgeable about crops and livestock production wherever they have involvement in overall management but lack it where they merely share work load and wheat crop is one such example. Involvement of women in management and decision making was found to be inversely proportional to scale and nature of operation – thus even with livestock their involvement in management /decision making is low in commercial scale operations. Hence in such cases extent of their knowledge is low and I hasten to add that improving knowledge of women in such cases is not likely to be of much use. And that brings me to the subject of Ways of imparting knowledge and improving skills of women and there is need for a paradigm shift in planning and implementing Extension / Communication and Training programs aimed at Empowerment of women. Some of the major limitations of commonly conducted programs are (I) Virtual absence of women agri. extensionists with hands on experience(ii) Language used in the training programs and extension/training material is usually urban type with a lot of English words and not well understood by rural women (many words in rural dialect are different).(iii) Women learn better while doing or through demonstrations and are averse to long lectures or notes and here again the limitation is that most extension officers or trainers lack hands on experience.(iv)The traditional knowledge possessed by women is usually neglected/ignored although it is desirable to build the empowerment programme using that as base.(v)The efforts at improving knowledge and skills of women would be fruitful if done for aspects where women have a say and in such cases women will also take interest to learn.l will look forward to responses to learn the current line of thoughts and approaches related to capacity building of women.

  • The blogs message is loud and clear that women should receive priority attention in crop production activities to maximise their contributions to agricultural development. How information technology can do this is ably demonstrated through results of research studies

  • This blogs beauty lies in it being based on empirical information generated by the authors. It demystifies the myth that women dont engage in listening mobile messages as much as men since it was found women were spending the same amount of time as male farmers in listening to the full voice message particularly in Karnal. The empirical information generated through this project as provided in this blog has policy implications while designing developmental interventions towards enhancing the decision making capacities of women and their ability to do farming better. Congratulations to the authors & AESA for bringing out an excellent practical blog on an important issue like gender roles and decision making in farming.