Blog: Bidisha Kumari examines Tanager’s work with women farmers on International Day for Rural Women

October 15th was the International Day for Rural Women, celebrated by agriculturists and activists across the globe. In India it is celebrated as National Women Farmer’s Day or Rashtriya Mahila Kisan Diwas to acknowledge the role and important contribution of Women in Indian agriculture. Agriculture plays an important role and women have always been at the core of farming activities. Several studies show that around 80% of women in rural India depend on Agriculture for their livelihood and agriculture contributes about 17-18% to the GDP.

Recognizing the importance of women’s contribution in agriculture, Tanager is committed to improving the outcomes of women farmers through its projects. Along with focusing on the self-improvement of individual women throughout its projects, Tanager adopts a gender transformational approach to address gender inequity in power dynamics and structures. Throughout its projects, Tanager works with both male and female farmers to address the root causes and social barriers that hinder women’s active participation in the agriculture value chain.

It has been observed that if given the opportunity, women farmers can prove their ability at all the levels of agriculture. Their participation is affected by many factors including a lack of family support, information, and resources. Tanager through its projects work to address these factors. Through the Mars INC-funded Shubh Mint project in Lucknow and Barabanki, Tanager addresses the mobility of women farmers and builds their skills and leadership by organizing them into Self-Help Groups (SHGs). Women farmers are now much more confident in carrying on the farming activities after receiving training on good agriculture practices (GAP) and are able to access agriculture resources and marketing support.

Through the Andhra Pradesh Farmers Market Readiness Project II (APFMRP II), funded by the Walmart Foundation, Tanager is working towards forming gender inclusive Farmer Producer Organizations (FPOs) to ensure men and women farmers benefit equally from collecting marketing and crop aggregation. Tanager is working with individual FPOs to develop a Gender Action Plan which can be highly effective in increasing women’s active participation and membership in FPOs.  Along with this, to establish market linkages and make sure that women can participate in the marketing activities, Tanager has established collection centers across its project areas. This has created a win-win situation for both farmers and the buyers as men and women farmers do not have to travel out of their village to sell their produce, and buyers are also able to source bulk produce at one place.

Through these, and many other activities, Tanager is working to support and empower rural women and to build their resilience, skills, and leadership. We are proud to stand with them this International Day of the Rural Women, and are committed to serving them long into the future.