Schemes for Women Farmers to Create Sustainable Livelihoods for Rural Women
There are now many schemes by the Government of India with various measures to increase the participation of women farmers in agriculture sector.
These include providing additional support and assistance to women farmers, over and above the male farmers under few schemes; provision of 30% of funds for women under various beneficiary oriented schemes/programmes; taking pro-women initiatives such as supporting farm women’s food security groups, undertaking macro/micro level studies in critical thrust area related to women in agriculture, delivery of Gender Sensitization Module on Gender Learning through training programmes at National/Region/State Level, compilation and documentation of gender friendly tools/technologies; Farm Women Friendly Handbook and compilation of best practices/success stories of the women farmers, etc.
“Under the schemes implemented by the Department of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare (DA&FW), Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare, the women farmers can avail benefits as per eligibility. The guidelines of the various beneficiary oriented schemes of the department also provide that States and other implementing Agencies to incur at least 30% expenditure on women farmers,” emphasises Union Union Minister of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare Narendra Singh.
The guidelines of the various beneficiary oriented schemes of the Department of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare (DA &FW), Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare provide that States and other Implementing Agencies to incur at least 30% expenditure on women farmers. These schemes include Support to State Extension Programmes for Extension Reforms, National Food Security Mission, National Mission on Oilseed & Oil Palm, National Mission on Sustainable Agriculture, Sub-Mission for Seed and Planting Material, Sub-Mission on Agricultural Mechanization and Mission for Integrated Development of Horticulture.
The Ministry of Rural Development had started a scheme to provide facilities to women farmers namely, Mahila Kisan Sashaktikaran Pariyojana (MKSP), a sub-component of Deendayal Antyodaya Yojana- National Rural Livelihood Mission (DAY –NRLM), which is under implementation since 2011 through State Rural Livelihoods Mission as Project Implementation Agencies. The primary objective of MKSP is to empower women by making systematic investments to enhance their participation and create the sustainable livelihood of rural women.
The Government has adopted several developmental programmes, schemes, reforms and policies that focus on higher incomes for the farmers, including women farmers, which are being supported by higher budgetary allocations. Several reforms have unleashed the potential, including market reforms, the establishment of Gramin Agriculture Markets (GrAMs), Agri-Export Policy 2018, The Farmers Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion & Facilitation) Act, 2020 etc, besides others.
Mahila Kisan Sashaktikaran Pariyojana
More than 80% of rural women are engaged in agriculture activities for their livelihoods and form the most productive workforce in the economy. About 20 per cent of farm livelihoods are female-headed due to widowhood, desertion, or male emigration. Agricultural support system in India strengthens the exclusion of women from their entitlements as agriculture workers and cultivators. Most of the women-headed households cannot access extension services, farmers support institutions and production assets like a seed, water, credit, subsidy etc.
As agricultural workers, women are paid a lower wage than men. The “Mahila Kisan Sashaktikaran Pariyojana” (MKSP), a sub-component of the Deendayal Antodaya Yojana-NRLM (DAY-NRLM) seeks to improve the present status of women in agriculture and to enhance the opportunities available to empower them.
In order to familiarize women with the latest techniques in agriculture and allied sectors, trainings are being imparted to women farmers under schemes of DA&FW and DAY-NRLM. These include Support to State Extension Programmes for Extension Reforms (ATMA) under Sub-Mission on Agriculture Extension (SMAE). Skill training courses in agriculture and allied areas (of minimum 200 hours duration) are also being conducted for farmers including women farmers through National Training Institutes, State Agricultural Management & Extension Training (SAMETIs), Krishi Vigyan Kendras (KVKs) and State Agricultural Universities (SAUs), across the country.
Under DAY-NRLM, the trainings on the agro-ecological practices are being provided through the community resource persons. KVKs established by Indian Council Agricultural Research (ICAR) impart training to farmers including women farmers on various aspects of agriculture and allied sectors.
It may also be added that since many “jandhan” accounts are opened in the names of the women for direct transfer of money from the government to the account holders, women farmers also get benefits under PM-KISAN scheme.
In fact on Monday (August 9, 2021), Prime Minister Narendra Modi virtually transferred about Rs.19,500 crore to over 9.75 crore beneficiaries farmers under the government’s PM-KISAN scheme.
With this, the government has so far transferred nine instalments amounting around Rs. 1.57 lakh crore to farmer families under the Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi (PM-KISAN) scheme.
An annual financial benefit of Rs. 6,000 is provided to eligible beneficiary farmer families, payable in three equal four-monthly instalments of Rs.2,000 each, under the PM-KISAN scheme.
The scheme was announced in February 2019 in the Budget. The first instalment was for December 2018-March 2019 period.