Context: The livestock sector is one of the most rapidly growing components of the rural economy of India, accounting for 5% of national income and 28% of agricultural GDP in 2018-19. In the last six years, the livestock sector grew at 7.9% (at constant prices) while crop farming grew by 2%.
Women and Livestock farming:
- The majority of women workers in rural areas (72%) are engaged in agricultural activities.
- There were five million women members in dairy co-operatives in 2015-16, and this increased further to 5.4 million in 2020-21.
- Women accounted for 31% of all members of dairy producer cooperatives in 2020-21.
- However, with the exception of participation in dairy co-operatives, specifically in milk marketing, women’s role in the livestock economy is not as widely known or discussed.
- 12 million rural women were workers in livestock-raising, an estimate based on the Employment and Unemployment Survey of 2011-12.
- However, with the augmented definition, we estimated that around 49 million rural women were engaged in livestock raising.
- Hence women actually engaged in the livestock economy were approximately four times the official estimate.
- Statistics from India’s first national Time Use Survey in 2019 shows that 11% of rural women or 48 million women were engaged in animal rearing.
- Data from village surveys conducted by the Foundation for Agrarian Studies in Karnataka show that in every household that owned a milch animal, a woman spent at least two hours a day on animal rearing.
- The National Livestock Policy (NLP) of 2013 states that around 70% of the labour for the livestock sector comes from women.
The Concerns with Women in Livestock Farming:
- Conventional labour force surveys fail to accurately record women’s work in livestock-raising.
- The two significant reasons for this are the sporadic nature of work undertaken for short spells throughout the day and often carried out within the homestead, and women’ own responses.
- Women often do not respond with livestock farming as an economic activity.
- One way to adjust official statistics for this error is by calculating an augmented work participation rate.
- In other words, in addition to women reporting themselves as engaged in economic activity, this estimate includes women who reported themselves as “engaged in domestic duty” or care work for a major part of the year but spent time on specific activities such as kitchen gardening, household dairy/poultry, paddy husking, etc.
- Based on this data, it becomes evident that women livestock farmers are not visible to policymakers, and one reason is the lack of gender-disaggregated data.
- The Periodic Labour Force Survey fail to collect data on specific activities of persons engaged primarily in domestic duties.
- The reach of extension services to women livestock farmers remains scarce
- According to official reports, 80,000 livestock farmers were trained across the country in 2021, but we have no idea how many were women farmers.
- Women in poor households, without collateral to offer to banks, finds it difficult to avail loans to purchase livestock.
- Women livestock farmers lack the technical knowledge on choice of animals (breeding) and veterinary care.
- Women are often not aware of the composition and functions of dairy boards and in many cases, men exercised decisions even in women-only dairy cooperatives.
Following schemes have specific components for the welfare of women farmers:
Mahila Kisan Sashaktikaran Pariyojana (MKSP):
- The Department of Rural Development, launched a specific scheme namely ‘Mahila Kisan Sashaktikaran Pariyojana (MKSP)’.
- It is a subcomponent of DAY-NRLM (Deendayal Antyodaya Yojana — National Rural Livelihoods Mission).
- This scheme is being implemented since 2011.
- Objectives: To empower women by making systematic investments to enhance their participation and productivity, as also create sustainable livelihoods of rural women.
- Implementation: The program is implemented in project mode through State Rural Livelihoods Mission (SRLM) as Project Implementing Agencies.
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.
Need for promotion of women farmer:
- Agriculture support system in India strengthens the exclusion of women from their entitlements as agriculture workers and cultivators.
- Rural women form the most productive work force in the economy of majority of the developing nations including India. More than 80% of rural women are engaged in agriculture activities for their livelihoods.
- About 20 per cent of farm livelihoods are female headed due to widowhood, desertion, or male emigration.
- Most of the women-headed households are not able to access extension services, farmers support institutions and production assets like seed, water, credit, subsidy etc. As agricultural workers, women are paid lower wage than men.
Source: The Hindu