OdishaPlus Bureau

Women empowerment is a broad term which is used often but is actually a work in progress. We have to make an atmosphere of compassion, cohesion and cooperation if we truly want to give women the freedom that they deserve. A woman does so many chores inside the house as well as outside yet asks for nothing in return. It is our duty to recognize the hard work as woman goes through every day and help make her life easy in every which way possible, opined Ms. Monica Nayyar Patnaik, Co-Chair, Odisha State Council, FICCI, while introducing the guests on the seminar titled ‘Enhancing Role of Women SHGs for Agricultural Profitability’, which was part of the knowledge dissemination activities for farmers and agribusiness and agriculture students under Krushi Odisha.

The guests on the panel included Dr. Lipi Das, Principal Scientist and Nodal Officer, Agriculture Extension AICRP in Women on Agriculture, Ms. Sarbani Bose, Specialist on Women in Agriculture, PRADAN, Ms. Anu Meena, Founder, AgroWave and Ms. Mamata Samantray, Chairperson, State Progressive Women’s Forum.

Dr. Lipi Das, argued that gender gap, lack of access, lack of decision making right, unequal access to market, livestock, scarce land, availability of credit and poor access to technology have become the bane for women participating in agriculture. She further advocated that 3Es, namely ‘Equity’ or bringing gender equity, promoting Entrepreneurship and realization of Empowerment is needed at this stage to make more women come together and engage in agriculture and allied activities.

Ms. Sarbani Bose talked about lot of things that are easily available to men but become a challenge in case of women. She spelt out that women SHGs in particular need to get market linkage for their products so that they could become self dependent. She outlined the role of women in farming. “While women are made to toil hard in crops such as paddy, no one considers women engaging in high value or cash crop agriculture. This is where we go wrong. In order to enhance profitability of women, we must help them realize their identity as a farmer rather than a worker”, argued Ms. Bose.

Ms. Bose also talked about the social construct around gender, caste, class especially surrounding women and how it is a barrier towards women engaging in agriculture and the need to do away with these things. She advocated more technical know-how for women. She said that women have to realize that they have to take agency of their economic well being and progress onto larger Issues of access to other entitlements and benefits.

Ms. Bose further suggested that ‘Kisan Credit Card’ for women or farmer registration even without land being under a woman’s name would be a welcome step to trigger women’s agency in agriculture. She also spoke on the poor implementation of the PDS, Inactive Palli Sabhas and other sectors where women SHGs have to work in tandem to fix it. She also advocated on women’s consciousness of the role she plays in economic well being of the family, building her skills, knowledge and perspectives in livelihoods and the need for mechanization in agriculture which is now linked to reduction in women’s drudgery/tools for work redistribution.

Ms. Anu Meena who is the founder of AgroWave, an agriculture startup which enables market linkage to farmers through smart logistics and tracking systems was the moderator for the seminar. She spoke briefly that she makes youtube videos on farming and farmer empowerment, the challenges of being a woman entrepreneur in a place like Rajasthan, inspiring and training women farming. She spoke that education and gender equality is necessary to talk about women empowerment. She focused on individuals and groups growing together and supporting women in all of their initiatives and helping in empowering them.

Ms. Mamata Samantaray informed the audience how she was the first along with two other women registered under Govt. of India for growing medicinal plants in Odisha. She inspired the women present in the hall to take up the tradition of kitchen garden and keep it alive. “A woman is never recognized as a farmer even after working daylong in the field, that should be changed. A woman works whole day, men get rest in the evening whereas women cook, clean and manage the household. So we must ensure minimum rights of women”, Ms. Samantray pointed out. The seminar saw a huge turnout of women farmers and women SHGs who were invited to Krushi Odisha for information, skill development and training workshops and seminars for better productivity and profitability in agriculture.

‘Krushi Odisha’, the annual flagship five day exhibition cum agri fest, organized by Dept. of Agriculture and Farmers’ Empowerment, Govt. of Odisha in collaboration with FICCI is being held from 20-24 January 2020 at Janata Maidan, Bhubaneswar. The mega programme which envisages leading farmers to profitability, involves various aspects like farm income, implements, modern technology in farming, financial assistance to farmers and capacity building.