Model Question and Answers for APSC | Discuss the various economic and socio-cultural forces that are driving the increasing feminization of agriculture in India.
Discuss the various economic and socio-cultural forces that are driving the increasing feminization of agriculture in India.
Ans: In 2018-19, 71 per cent of female workers are employed in agriculture, followed by manufacturing (9 per cent), construction (6 per cent) and hospitality (4 per cent).
The increasing feminization of agriculture in India:
- Indian agri-workforce is split under two heads: cultivators (who own the land or have the right to operate on it) and labourers (ones who do not own land but work on land owned by others in return of wages paid to them in cash or kind).
- As per Census 2011, there were about 263 million agricultural workers in India and 37 per cent (or 98 million) of them were women.
- Between 1991 and 2011, more than 85 million agricultural workers entered the agri-workforce and 49 million (58 per cent) of these were women.
- In the two decades since 1991, while the number of male cultivators reduced by 3 million, that of women cultivators jumped up by 2 million.
- There was an increase of 74 million agricultural labourers in these two decades, and about 47 per cent of these were women.
- In livestock activities, this extent of feminisation is much larger. As per the National Sample Survey Office (NSSO), the percentage share of female workers was 60 per cent in cattle, 40 per cent in goats and 60 per cent in poultry in 1983-84 and this increased to 70, 55 and 70 per cent respectively by 1999-2000.
- In states like Tamil Nadu, Manipur, Rajasthan, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, and Maharashtra, women accounted for more than half of their agri-labourers.
- With increased pressures of migration of men to urban areas, this trend of feminisation is likely to continue and gain momentum in coming times
- The state of poverty pushes the women members to work in the agricultural fields to supplement the income levels of the family.
- Men are paid more than women. When they can get more by working elsewhere, a low-income pursuit is left for women.
- Traditional way of agriculture is followed which is labour intensive, and hence a high level of demand for labourers already persists in the agricultural sector. It is further intensified by the aforementioned rural to urban migration.
- Increasing feminization of old age: Due to greater life expectancy, women outlive men and hence widows end up heading a family and taking to the agricultural About 18% of the farm families in India, according to NSSO Reports are headed by women.
- Agriculture has traditionally been an acceptable avenue of work for women in rural areas, otherwise infamous for many stigmas when it comes to women’s employability in workplaces.
- Increased fragmentation of land forcing all members of the families to go for work
- Many tribal groups are entering mainstream society as Agri labourers
As per Agri Census 2015-16, only 14 per cent of the operational holdings in agriculture were owned by women. Despite the rising and high share in the Agri workforce, only 37 per cent of these women were cultivators (ones who owned land) and the remainder about 63 per cent worked as agri-labourers (on farms owned by others). We need to set this right so that more women are land owners are able to access credit, extension services and crop insurance.