07 March 2021, Bangalore: Agriculture is one of the biggest contributors to India’s economy, and it is predominantly women who do the heavy lifting in this industry. Against this backdrop, on International Women’s Day, nurture.farm announced the results of an internal survey conducted for women as a part of its Women In Agriculture (WiA) program.
Women in Agriculture (WiA) is a flagship program of the company where it employs women from rural areas for gig-work in agriculture, roles where they act as nurture.farm’s representatives, local points of contact, and advisors to farmers. Since April 2021, nurture.farm has employed 300+ women (average age 18-35 years) as its field partners (Krishi Mitras), comprising 30% of its overall field force. Its Haryana field force is an all-women team.
The survey intended to understand what brought women into agriculture and how agricultural income is helping them in their professional and personal growth. It also aimed to understand how women from various backgrounds (age, education, socio-economic status, other) contribute to the AgTech sector and how we could ensure a better work culture and livelihood for them. Here are the key findings of the survey rolled out for its internal women employees and the women from Krishi Mitra teams, and how nurture.farm is leaving no stone unturned to help women in agriculture build better lives for themselves.
The Women in Agriculture (WiA) survey found that 90% of rural respondents spend their income to fulfill familial obligations/responsibilities. The survey also saw that 85.7% of rural respondents made income decisions only after discussing it with their families. In contrast, only 43% of urban respondents sought family opinions while making their income-related decisions. When it came to safety and health, the survey found that 80% of rural respondents do not have health/life insurance, while the number was cut in half in urban areas, with 40.5% not having health/life insurance.
Financial inclusion is also another area of concern for India’s hinterlands. nurture.farm’s survey revealed that 43.5% of rural women do not use any digital modes of payment, while 100% of the urban respondents used them. Besides, 34.3% of rural respondents did not have any savings plan, and 41.8% have only just learned about financial planning, which they intend to explore soon. Underscoring a significant milestone for nurture.farm, the company’s internal platform’s survey found that 85.3% of rural women learned about finance management from it.
The Women in Agriculture (WiA) survey showed that 95.7% of rural respondents felt optimistic, seeing immense potential in the agriculture sector and wishing to remain invested. In addition, 80% of rural women felt their opinions on family matters were sought more than before, now that they are earning and are financially independent. At 80.5%, the urban counterparts seemed to be on par with them. Realising the respect and importance that they receive, 60.3% of women from rural India identified these as their primary motivators to continue working.
Work-Life Balance and Gender Parity
At a time when the entire world is focusing on striking a work-life balance, the Women in Agriculture (WiA) survey revealed that it’s no different in the agriculture sector. 81.7% of rural working women and 78.6% of urban women workers prefer flexible working hours. Apart from this, 60% of women manage household chores themselves, before/after/in-between their work schedules. However, gender inclusiveness continues to be a challenge, with 64.3% of rural women feeling men have better opportunities to be gainfully employed. In urban regions, 80% of women felt men had better work opportunities.
Commenting on the survey and its results, Dhruv Sawhney, Business Head & COO of nurture.farm said, “At a time when we see rural population mass migrate to cities in search of gig-work opportunities, I am happy to see the results wherein 97% women associated with us want to continue to be a part of the agri-ecosystem. It shows that our WiA program is a success. Our nurture.academy team, well positioned to examine and improve diversity hiring practices in agriculture through skill training, and career development is also doing remarkable work at educating them for job-related responsibilities.”
He further added, “When 85% of the women responded that nurture.farm has helped them understand income management, it shows we have made a difference and impacted their lives by ensuring financial literacy. Women are always open to what is better for their families and communities, therefore more open to learning new ideas and adopting new progressive practices. Enabling women in agriculture will have multiple positive effects on their economic condition, farm output, ultimately translating to food security and a better economy for India.”
nurture.farm believes that bringing women into agriculture will bolster the sector and improve food security. However, for women to thrive, creating an ecosystem responsive to their requirements is imperative instead of the old-fashioned, ‘one size fits all’ workplace. Its survey results are a timely nudge in that direction. nurture.farm has either already led and initiated these changes in its workplace model for women or is taking significant steps to address these preferences.