The Mahila Kisan Sashakthikaran Pariyojana (MKSP)

The Mahila Kisan Sashakthikaran Pariyojana (MKSP) program of the Government of India aims to improve the status of women farmers and bridge the gender gap in the agrarian sector through sustainable agricultural practices and participatory development strategies. The project addresses cultural, health and educational aspects of women’s development, its holistic approach making it potentially replicable elsewhere; for this reason, it may be considered a pilot project. Currently, we are working with more than 3000 women farmers from Chitradurga District and 2000 from Ramanagara District.

Closing the gender gap in agricultural inputs alone could lift an estimated 100 to 150 million people out of the clutches of hunger. Women are heavily involved in the seed selection, sowing, planting, harvesting and other aspects of farm management and are therefore an essential part of the agricultural work force. Yet gender inequities have long existed in the Indian agrarian world. Though they form 43% of the agricultural labour force of developing countries, and contribute considerably to their families’ livelihoods, women have little power in the decision making processes that concern their households. Forming such a necessary component of the sector, it follows then, that any intervention program which fails to account for their role or address their concerns will only be partially successful.

GREEN’s own experience has shown that intervention activities centred on women have, in the past, acted as catalysts that usher in the message of sustainable agriculture and biodiversity conservation, to entire communities. In fact, it was thanks to the efforts of a handful of women farmers that GREEN Foundation first established itself and through the years the contributions of women have been essential to the success of our initiatives.

Societal and cultural restrictions limit their less access to resources that could increase farm productivity and economic returns. The stark disparities of this gender bias mean that, when compared to men, women possess far less land and livestock holdings, some of the most basic necessities of agricultural endeavours. Even when they do have control over their land and environmental resources however, women are further restricted by reduced access to services essential for good agricultural productivity. And with close to 70% of employed women in South Asia working in agriculture, removing the gender gap in the sector would mean a victory for working women as a whole.

An empowered woman farmer, capable of efficiently managing her family’s farm, establishing good market linkages and then securing the best prices for her farm produce, would significantly strengthen the livelihood, food and economic security of her family.