Fem­i­niza­tion of Gu­jarat Agro

While the num­ber of hours spent by women farm­ers work­ing in fields has gone up, their wages have ac­tu­ally de­creased. For male farm­ers, on the other hand, the op­po­site holds true

The Day After - - CONTENT - By Asit MAnohAr Feed­back on:re­porter@dayaf­terindia.com

In­dian agri­cul­tural sec­tor is un­der­go­ing fem­i­niza­tion, i.e., the ris­ing share of farm work is now be­ing un­der­taken by women. Gu­jarat, how­ever, is see­ing what could be termed as “fem­i­niza­tion out of com­pul­sion” or “fem­i­niza­tion of agrar­ian dis­tress” – women are tak­ing up more work un­der duress due to men hav­ing stepped away from the ac­tiv­ity, a study has found.

While the num­ber of hours spent by women farm­ers work­ing in fields has gone up, their wages have ac­tu­ally de­creased. For male farm­ers, on the other hand, the op­po­site holds true. With agri­cul­ture no longer con­sid­ered a prof­itable oc­cu­pa­tion, the in­volve­ment of women as cul­ti­va­tors might not be fi­nan­cially em­pow­er­ing.

Men have moved out of agri­cul­ture as main work­ers and con­tinue only as mar­ginal work­ers. The role of women, how­ever, has in­creased in both main work and mar­ginal work. Over 43.92 lakh women in Gu­jarat are work­ing on farms, the study by Itishree Pat­naik, as­sis­tant pro­fes­sor at Gu­jarat In­sti­tute of De­vel­op­ment Re­search, has found.

Ti­tled ‘Farm­ers of Fu­ture: Chal­lenges of Fem­i­niza­tion of Agri­cul­ture in In­dia’, the study cov­ers 16 vil­lages in Patan, Val­sad, Ra­jkot and Panchma­hal dis­tricts of the state – which were cho­sen for their dis­tinct crop­ping pat­terns and so­cio-eco­nomic pro­files, ac­cord­ing to an In­dian Ex­press re­port.

Us­ing 2011 Cen­sus data on Gu­jarat’s to­tal work­force, Pat­naik states that about 65 per­cent of women are em­ployed in the agri­cul­ture sec­tor as op­posed to 44 per­cent of men. The state has a to­tal of 12.03 lakh women cul­ti­va­tors and 31.89 lakh agri­cul­ture labour­ers.

While as per the Cen­sus data, 10 per­cent of Gu­jarat’s women own land, dur­ing the house-list­ing ex­er­cise of over 3,000 houses in the sur­veyed dis­tricts, it was found that the fig­ure was a mere 3 per­cent. Ac­cord­ing to Pat­naik, 1.3 per­cent of th­ese women were not even aware that land own­er­ship was in their name.

The pro­fes­sor told the English daily: “The anal­y­sis shows that ba­sic so­cial and eco­nomic pro­tec­tion is miss­ing for a large por­tion of the ru­ral pop­u­la­tion be­cause of which women, as the cheap­est and weak­est labour in house­holds, are fall­ing back on agri­cul­ture; whereas, men are mov­ing out of the farms al­to­gether. To change the sit­u­a­tion, it is es­sen­tial to put the fo­cus on women in the over­all de­vel­op­ment plans and poli­cies of agri­cul­ture.”

The study fur­ther states that while the num­ber of Gu­jarat women farm­ers work­ing on their farms is higher as com­pared to men, they lack the mo­bil­ity to work out­side. A greater num­ber of women un­der­take stren­u­ous and time-con­sum­ing chores – such as weed­ing, clean­ing of farms, stor­ing and live­stock rear­ing — as com­pared to men.

“Male mem­bers hardly help the women in house­hold chores. It is a mat­ter of con­cern whether the la­bor time they spend and the in­comes they earn match,” the re­port claims.

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