Agricultural officers in Haryana’s Karnal district organise functions to encourage women’s participation in farm-related activities

In Gudha village, two kilometres off National Highway 1 in Haryana’s Karnal district, efforts are being made to empower women by increasing their role in the agricultural sector.

In a State struggling with problems of female foeticide, low sex ratio and gender bias, this government exercise aims at facilitating the involvement of women in the agricultural sector so that the mindset which looks down upon them may also change.

Agricultural officers observed during the course of their interaction with the farming communities that while “there were government schemes which sought to help women by providing them with seeds or other inputs at subsidised rates or free of cost, often these ended up being used by dominating male farmers.”

“In order to overcome this, we have started encouraging women farmers to come forward and to participate in various functions. This would make them more confident about their rights and in expressing their views on issues which affect them in day-to-day life,” said area assistant development officer Rajinder Singh.

Recently, an interaction between farmers and scientists was organised in the village, which is part of the Gharaunda block. The meet was attended by a large number of women farmers, who had been mobilised by the Haryana Gyan Vigyan Samiti.

Chairman of Agricultural Scientists Recruitment Board, Delhi, Gurbachan Singh, made a specific reference to the active involvement of women farmers in various agriculture-related activities.

Speaking about the meet, a district official said often when women themselves go to collect seeds or other farm inputs, they are dealt with contemptuously by those who believe it is the sole domain of men to remain engaged in agriculture. “Most of the women who turned up for the meet were those who have never benefited from the government schemes. Those who gain from them, actually seldom turn up for such events.”

Incidentally, Gudha has been a turnaround story for agricultural science. As Dr. Singh pointed out, when the Central Soil Salinity Research Institute opened a research centre here in 1978, Gudha and many surrounding villages like Begampur, Dadlana, Khora-Kheri, Kutana and Munk had 60 per cent barren and salt-ravaged soil which was uncultivable and was lying fallow. But now the area stands transformed and gives bumper crops of wheat, mustard and sugarcane.

The scientists visited the fields of some who had transformed their fields. One of them was Sheela Sharma, whose technique of modern style of cultivation had yielded great results.

Two other farmers, Kusam Dahiya and Sheela Goyet, shared their agricultural experiences with the participants at the meet and expressed the necessity for a separate training programme for women farmers under the stewardship of gender-sensitised experts to acquaint them with latest innovative farming techniques.

The women farmers also called for ensuring the supply of agricultural inputs at their doorsteps so that they were spared the trouble of visiting various offices in this connection.

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