What’s troubling the main (and unnoticed) driving force in India’s farmlands?
Almost 70 percent of the farmers in India happen to be women. But why's it they don't figure in the farming narrative?
Sheikh Saaliq | 6 March, 2018
When Finance Minister Arun Jaitley presented the Union Budget for the year 2018-2019, the word was already out that the Budget would be ‘farmer friendly’. Jaitley used the word ‘farmer’ 27 times during the speech and promised a bagful of schemes, which – he hoped – would help the ‘Kisan bhai’.
While the Indian government defines ‘farmer’ as a person, male or female, who cultivates a plot of land—owner or non-owner, a majority of our politicians’ speeches, including the Finance Minister himself, refer to the farmer as ‘bhai’.
Depicted as a male-dominated profession, women have been most often than not excluded from the farming narrative. This narrative, however, undermines a surprising, yet important fact: the percentage of the male farmer is lesser than the female famer in India.
Out of every 10 farmers, six happen to be women. This means a staggering 60% of the total farmer population of India are women.
Be it seeding, cropping, harvesting, ploughing, or even driving tractors — more women work on the fields than men. And yet, less than 13 percent of these women own any land.
Missing land entitlement
Usha Devi, 39, has been farming on a land for the last 15 years that doesn’t even belong to her.
She gets up before dawn to cook for her three children and husband, milks her buffalos, sends her children to school and spends rest of her day in a four-acre plot of land right outside her house in Paljar, Sonipat.
Her unemployed husband Devendra Kumar, who usually remains away from home during the day to play cards with his friends, owns the land.