Missing: The woman farmer

Despite their high numbers, they are barely visible and budgets have not done enough for them

Sakshi Rai | February 14, 2019


#Mahila Kisan   #Mahila Kisan Sashaktikaran Pariyojana   #Lok Sabha   #ministry of agriculture   #budget 2019   #agriculture   #woman farmer  
Photo: Arun kumar
Photo: Arun kumar

Land rights structurally escape women. This is a fundamental issue in understanding why women’s work as farmers is largely invisible. However, the large-scale migration of men towards pursuing other non-farm employment opportunities due to the worsening agrarian crisis has pushed more women into this sector. Work is not homogenous and neither are women or their work. Perceiving work through economic lens, the policy framework falls short in addressing the invisible and open unemployment of women along with increasing trends of feminisation in the sector. The first ask for women in the sector remains being identified as a ‘farmer’. 

According to previous reports by the National Sample Survey Office (NSSO), the agrarian sector employs nearly 80 percent women workers. Despite such high numbers, both the sector and the macroeconomic policy framework are yet to recognise them as farmers. Moreover, 81 percent of the female agricultural labourers belong to dalit, adivasi and OBC communities (ILO, 2010). The largest share of casual and landless labourers also comes from these social groups. The burden of the agricultural debt has also inadvertently fallen upon women.
 
When unpacking schemes for women farmers, the Mahila Kisan Sashaktikaran Pariyojana (MKSP) is the only sub-programme under the Deendayal Antyodaya Yojana – National Rural Livelihood Mission (DAY-NRLM) particularly aimed at women farmers. The NRLM aims to reach out 8-9 crore rural poor households in an effort to organise 1 woman per household into self-help groups to take up organic farming in clusters. As per the ministry of rural development’s circular, “a total of 57,270 Mahila Kisan have been registered through 5,816 local groups for taking up organic farming”. The same circular also identifies nearly 14.03 lakh of women farmers under the State Rural Livelihoods Mission and MKSP. As one can see, women are at the centre of implementing the objectives of organic farming of the government. However, the total budgetary allocation for MKSP in 2018-19 (BE) was a mere Rs 1,000 crore. As MKSP is a sub-programme the allocations for 2019-20 (BE) are yet to be published. While the allocations for NRLM have increased over the years, increase in allocations for MKSP has yet to be realised effectively. In fact, the trends since 2014 show that not only does the policy framework suffers low levels of allocation and spending but also show how misplaced the government’s priorities continue to be in the agrarian sector with respect to women farmers. The sub-programme under NRLM for Mahila Kisan needs to be scaled up and backed with improved resource mobilisation plans, which may not be enough as work for women farmers also varies regionally. Moreover, transparency in the process of identifying and registering women farmers is crucial for better outcomes. 
 

[Source: Compiled by CBGA from Union Budget documents, from various years]
 
As per the reply given by the ministry of agriculture in Lok Sabha on August 2, 2016, budgetary allocations for women farmers have been made at 30 percent on various schemes like Sub-Mission on Agriculture Mechanisation, National Food Security Mission, Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana, National Mission on Oilseeds and Oil Palm, Sub-Mission on Seed and Planting Material and Mission for Integrated Development of Horticulture (National Mission on Horticulture). The trend from 2014 shows that the fund utilisation for these schemes has systematically declined with marginal increases in allocation in years 2018-19 and 2019-20. It should be noted that the budget for the ministry of agriculture increased from Rs 57,600 crore in 2018-19 (BE) to Rs 1,40,764 crore in 2019-20 (BE). The total allocations for women farmers in 2018-19 (BE) under the above-mentioned schemes are 2 percent of the total expenditure under the ministry of agriculture for the same year. This amount is too little to provide coverage for the conservative number of 8-9 crore households. 
 
The income guarantee scheme of Rs 6,000 per annum under the Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Yojana for farmers owning less than 2 hectares of land announced in the interim budget is also outside the framework as most women in agriculture do not own land. In the absence of schemes designed especially for women farmers, there is little the government has been able to achieve to minimise gaps in land and asset ownership, wage gap, supportive infrastructure, access to credit, subsidised fertilizers, recognition to entitlements among others. n
 
Rai works with Centre for Budget and Governance Accountability (CBGA), New Delhi. 
 
(This article appears in the February 28, 2019 edition)

Comments

 

Other News

`Bad Bank`: All you wanted to know about NARCL

The cabinet has cleared the formation of ‘National Asset Reconstruction Company Limited’ (NARCL) which will acquire “stressed assets” of about Rs. 2 Lakh crore in phases within RBI regulations in order to address the problem of humongous amounts of bad loans in public sector banks.

Citizens Charter: How this less-known law empowers us

When consumer rights and RTI activist Mohammad Afzal was shifting to a new residence in a different area, he required changes in various documents. He decided to take the help of the Citizens Charter along with other friends who also required similar work with authorities. The Citizens Chart

Minister for Ports, Shipping & Waterways emphasises on setting up of National Transport Facilitation Committees

Union Minister for Ports, Shipping & Waterways and AYUSH, Sarbananda Sonowal has underlined the importance of cross-border connectivity among India and developing nations of South-East Asia. Addressing the ASEAN summit on Future of India-ASEAN Connectivity Partnerships virt

Ministry of Finance organises advance training programme in PPP for states

The Department of Economic Affairs (DEA), Ministry of Finance and the Indian Institute of Management Bangalore has organised a virtual advance level training programme on Public-Private Partnership. Additional Secretary DEA, K Rajaraman, Joint Secretary, DEA, Baldeo Purushartha

Ministry of Agriculture signs MoUs for Digital Agriculture

Modernisation of the Agriculture sector will continue by infusing new technologies so that farmers can increase their income, states Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar. The Ministry of Agriculture and farmer welfare has signed MOUs for pilot projects with Cisco, Ninjacar

An enabling ecosystem for R&D is a must: Vice President

The Vice President, M. Venkaiah Naidu has stressed the need to create an enabling ecosystem for R&D for India to become a developed nation. He urged educational institutions to have an incr

Visionary Talk: GVL Narasimha Rao, Member of Parliament, Rajya Sabha on Upcoming UP Elections


Archives

Current Issue

Opinion

Facebook    Twitter    Google Plus    Linkedin    Subscribe Newsletter

Twitter