Empowering women in South Asia thru improved cultivation practices
Farmers in western Maharashtra and Marathwada areas in Maharashtra state of India were recently trained on improved cultivation practices of postrainy sorghum – an important food and fodder crop in the region. The ICRISAT-HOPE project had distributed seed of five released varieties — Parbhani Moti, Parbhani Jyoti, Phule Vasudha, Phule Chitra and Akola Kranti — in six different clusters spread over six districts of the state. The project actively involved women self-help groups (SHGs) in the distribution of improved seeds. Courtesy favorable monsoon and use of improved seeds and management practices, the project farmers reaped good grain and fodder yields. Based on present prices, direct economic benefit to farmers due to the project activities and active participation of SHGs groups was to the tune of Indian rupees 2.5 crores (US$ 541 000). More than 150 women farmers participated in selecting the varieties and improved management practices under Frontline demonstrations. Training programs were also conducted to the SHGs and farmers on seed preservation and alternate uses of sorghum grain. Thus the SHGs were actively involved in all project activities − seed distribution for large-scale cultivation, organizing farmers’ rallies, arranging visits to demo plots in research stations as well as in various training programs to sustain the project activities. These women were encouraged to address farmers during the village meetings.
In addition, a woman plant breeder as well as a woman university executive member was actively involved in the project activities and in organizing training programs and farmers meetings. With the active involvement of women in all spheres of project implementation, ICRISAT-HOPE is contributing to women empowerment in the target areas.