Budget 2018: Among many firsts in the Economic Survey 2017-18 is a new term – ‘feminisation of agriculture sector’. Tabled by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, the economic survey says that the growing migration from rural to urban India by men has led to an increase in the number of women in the agricultural sector. The women are associated with agriculture in the roles as cultivators, entrepreneurs, and labourers. Presented ahead of Budget 2018, the Economic Survey says that globally, there is empirical evidence that women have a decisive role in ensuring food security and preserving local agro-biodiversity. “Rural women are responsible for the integrated management and use of diverse natural resources to meet the daily household needs. This requires that women farmers should have enhanced access to resources like land, water, credit, technology, and training which warrants critical analysis in the context of India,” the economic survey points out.
“In addition, the entitlements of women farmers will be the key to improve agriculture productivity. The differential access of women to resources like land, credit, water, seeds and markets needs to be addressed,” says the crucial survey ahead of Budget 2018. Considering that women will play bigger role in agricultural economy, Government has started implementing various schemes which help improve the entitlements of women farmers, which are aimed to bridge the policy gaps which exits in the sector, the Survey adds and lists out measures taken to ensure mainstreaming of women in agriculture sector:
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-Earmarking at least 30% of the budget allocation for women beneficiaries in all ongoing schemes/programmes and development activities.
– Initiating women-centric activities to ensure benefits of various beneficiary-oriented programs/schemes reach them.
– Focusing on women self-help group (SHG) to connect them to micro-credit through capacity building activities and to provide information and ensuring their representation
in different decision-making bodies.
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– Recognizing the critical role of women in agriculture, the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare has declared 15th October of every year as Women Farmer‘s Day. With women predominant at all levels-production, pre-harvest, post-harvest processing, packaging, marketing – of the agricultural value chain, to increase productivity in agriculture, it is imperative to adopt gender-specific interventions. An inclusive transformative agricultural policy‘ should aim at gender-specific intervention to raise the productivity of small farm holdings, integrate women as active agents in rural transformation, and engage men and women in extension services with gender expertise. Going by the above mention in economic survey, it can be well predicted that Budget 2018 may bring some good news or rural women.