Empowering Women Farmers in India

The district of Tonk lies in the semi-arid eastern plains of Rajasthan, India, a farming region with low productivity, limited rainfall and a high incidence of poverty.

Many local farmers are women who struggle to ensure food security for their families due to poor crop yields. The average size of their farms is less than one hectare, and these tiny holdings face huge challenges. Annual rainfall across the region is only 500-650mm, less than 30% of the area is irrigated, and a high proportion of soils are poor quality and low in nutrients. Disease and pests cause widespread crop losses, and farmers lack access to education about sustainable agriculture.

In 2020, LDC embarked on a two-year project with the Louis Dreyfus Foundation and the Centre for microFinance to enhance the food security and cash incomes of women smallholder farmers in the region, by training them in improved agriculture practices (IAPs) that can contribute to higher productivity and incomes.

IAP training covers best practices in field preparation, selection of appropriate varieties of crops, seed germination test and treatment, use and dosage of chemical products, preparation of natural fertilizers and nursery management.

In 2020, the project was impacted by Covid-19, with only 20 self-help groups formed out of a planned 50.

Nevertheless, 2,354 farmers have been trained so far in field preparation, seed germination testing, seed treatment methods, use of fertilizers and crop diversification. The 211 who grow vegetables were introduced to the drip and mulching irrigation system, and 31 soilless nurseries and 178 raised-bed nurseries have been installed. The introduction of protected vegetable cultivation methods and the promotion of vegetable farming is helping to improve the farmers’ food security and cash incomes

Training was delivered through a combination of audiovisual lectures, live demonstrations, demo-plots and field visits, taking into account local safety and hygiene measures in the context of Covid-19.

The project will continue in 2021, training 36 more self-help groups and involving some 1,650 additional women farmers.

Read more in the Louis Dreyfus Foundation’s 2020 Activity Report.

“After participating in training sessions, the farmers actively disseminate their newfound knowledge through self-help groups, sharing best practices in crop and vegetable cultivation with their neighbors, and thus helping to upskill women farmers across the region.”

Vivek Saraswat

LDC’s Head of Operations in India

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