Farming and Agriculture

Enhance access to inputs, credit and technology to empower women in agriculture: Experts

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06 March 2024, Indore: Despite facing challenges such as limited access to inputs, markets, technology, training, and credit, as well as issues related to land ownership and low incomes, women in Indian agriculture have demonstrated remarkable resilience. By advocating for policies that support women’s empowerment, improving access to essential resources like technology, and acknowledging women’s invaluable contributions, significant progress can be made towards creating a more inclusive and sustainable agricultural sector, experts said on Wednesday.

Noted experts, speaking at a workshop ‘Transforming Agriculture: Women, Technology, and Sustainable Growth’ organized by the Federation of Seed Industry of India (FSII) and Forum for Indian Journalists on Education, Environment, Health & Agriculture (Fijeeha), echoed such sentiments ahead of International Women’s Day, here on Wednesday.

Highlighting the role of women in agriculture, Anuja Kadian, Director, FSII, and Government & Industry Affairs Director (Asia Pacific) Corteva Agriscience said, “Despite their significant involvement, rural women are predominantly viewed as laborers rather than recognized as farmers in their own right. There also exists a huge gender income gap which unfortunately is also widening due to the climate stressors.”

“Implementing policies and programs that recognize and formalize the status of women as farmers, ensuring they have equal access to land ownership, credit facilities, and agricultural resources is important. Promoting gender-sensitive agricultural extension services and training programs tailored to women’s needs can enhance their agricultural productivity and resilience to climate change,” Kadian added.

Shirley Thomas, Project Director of the Agricultural Technology Management Agency (ATMA), Indore highlighted how the agency was constantly working on enabling women farmers to embrace technologies to make farming easy and more remunerative. Dr Anita Rani, Principal Scientist in Plant Breeding at ICAR-Indian Institute of Soybean Research highlighted the significance of women in agriculture. Dr Monica Jain, Professor & Head of the Department of Life Sciences at Maharaja Ranjit Singh College of Professional Sciences, shared her experience of how it was imperative to empower women on the farm.

Progressive women farmers who brought transformation in their farming practices by adopting precision technologies and better agronomy solutions and inspired their neighboring women farmers resulting in doubling farm incomes were also felicitated.    

Ananda UVL, Director at FSII; Head of Corporate Communications and Media Relations at East-West Seed India; and Director for East-West Seed Knowledge Transfer Foundation, India highlighted how women farmers, including those in MP, are increasingly embracing precision agriculture methods, utilizing GPS technology and data analytics for efficiently managing resources like water, fertilizers, and pesticides, resulting in higher crop yields and minimize environmental harm. “With access to timely training and education, rural women can enhance their role in agriculture, fostering both personal growth and contributing to the state’s development,” Ananda further said.

There are inspiring stories of women farmers embracing new technologies and techniques to overcome challenges. Precision agriculture methods, such as the use of GPS technology and data analytics, are empowering women to optimize resource usage, increase crop yields, and reduce environmental impact.

Dr Ratna Kumria, Director of AgriBioTech, FSII said, “As part of FSII’s commitment to inclusive agriculture, we empower women farmers and workers through policies, technology, and collaborations with our member companies, enhancing their participation in Indian agriculture. Thanks to the Government of India’s decisive push, technology is rapidly integrating into agriculture, as seen in the recent use of drones, empowering rural women to supplement their incomes through drone flying.”

Also Read: Indian Cotton Prices and Outlook for March 2024: A Mixed Bag for Cotton Producers

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