Women farmers seek level field

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on January 09, 2018 Published on August 29, 2017

Second to none: Substantial part of farming in the country is carried out by women.

Want govt policies to be tailor-made for them

The government’s attempts to double income from farming by 2022 may not succeed if policies and schemes currently in place continue to exclude a sizeable chunk of farmers who are women.

If the government is serious about doubling farmers’ incomes, it needs to support women farmers who currently have no rights over land and resources, said women farmer leaders from different parts of the country, who assembled here on Tuesday for a two-day national consultation on women farmers’ issues.

Govt support

The women urged the government to come out with financial outlays, incentives and tax exemptions that are tailor-made for women farmer organisations across the country.

“Agriculture contributes substantially to India’s GDP and a substantial part of farming in the country is carried out by women who do not have a legitimate identity as farmers,” National Commission of Women (NCW) chairperson Lalitha Kumaramangalam told mediapersons.

The consultation, which NCW has organised jointly with Mahila Kisan Adhikar Manch (MAKAAM) and UN Women, was an attempt to create a direct interface between women farmers and government agencies so that their voices are heard and acted upon by the authorities, she said.

Kumaramangalam said NCW would strive to take up matters with the Prime Minister’s Office as this would help make suitable changes at national policy level. She said the States too have an equal role to play in framing policies. “Although women farmers put in the most work into farming, across crops and regions, they are hardly recognised and supported,” said Amirthum Dorai, who formed a collective farming group of Dalit women in Tamil Nadu.

Dorai, who was denied rights on her husband’s 1.5 acres of land by her sons, reclaimed 18 acres of common land in her native Pallur village despite resistance from village and block authorities, to form a farming collective.

GST impact

Suneeta Kashyap of Ranikhet in Uttarakhand, however, had a different story to tell. The recently implemented GST has hit a farmer-producer company formed by Kashyap and 1,000-odd other women cultivators of a good part of their hard-earned income.

“Prior to GST, Umang, our farmer-producer company was paying 5 per cent tax on different produce such as jams, pickles and wool-based products. Now, under GST we have to pay taxes upwards of 12 per cent, which can’t always be passed on to end consumers,” said Kashyap, who continued to study even while working to earn a post-graduate degree.

Published on August 29, 2017
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