Economic Survey 2018: There is ‘feminisation’ of agriculture sector because of growing migration of men from rural to urban areas, the Economic Survey said, while calling for gender-specific interventions to support them. Women play a significant and crucial role in agricultural development and allied fields “is a fact long taken for granted,” it observed. “With growing rural to urban migration by men, there is ‘feminisation’ of agriculture sector, with increasing number of women in multiple roles as cultivators, entrepreneurs, and labourers,” the Survey said. For sustainable development of the agriculture and rural economy, the contribution of women to agriculture and food production cannot be ignored, it said.
The Survey called for an ‘inclusive transformative agricultural policy’ that should aim at gender-specific interventions to raise productivity of small farm holdings, integrate women as active agents in rural transformation, and engage men and women in extension services with gender expertise. Globally, there is an 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, it said.
“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 Survey pointed 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, it said.
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Already, the government has been implementing various schemes to improve the entitlements of women farmers. For instance, the government is earmarking at least 30 per cent of the budget allocation for women beneficiaries in all ongoing schemes/programmes and development activities. It is initiating women centric activities to ensure benefits of various beneficiary-oriented programs/schemes reach them.
The government is also 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.