1.1 : AGRICULTURE SECTOR IN INDIA
Rural Indian women are extensively involved in agricultural activities. However the nature and extent of their involvement differs with the variations in agroproduction systems. The mode of female participation in agricultural production varies with the landowning status of farm households. Their roles range from managers to landless labourers. In over all farm production, womens average contribution is estimated at 55% to 66% of the total labour with percentages, much higher in certain regions. In the Indian Himalayas a pair of bullocks works 1064 hours, a man 1212 hours and a woman 3485 hours in a year on a once hectare farm, a figure that illustrates womens significant contribution to agricultural production. (Shiva FAO, 1991) The impact of W.T.O rules and policies of trade liberalization in the agriculture sector on women is distinctive for four reasons. Firstly, women have been the primary seed keepers, processors. They have been the both experts and producers of food, from seed to the kitchen. W.T.O impacts womens expertise and productive functions throughout the food chain. The Trade Related Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) agreement impacts womens knowledge of and control over seed. The Agreement on Agriculture impacts womens livelihood and income security, and also has secondary impacts in terms of increased violence against women. The sanitary and phyto sanitary agreement has a direct impact on womens expertise and economic role in agroprocessing. Secondly, as globalization shifts agriculture to capital intensive, chemical intensive systems, women bear disproportionate cots of both displacement and health hazards. Thirdly, Women carry the heavier work burden in food production, and because of gender discrimination get lower returns for their work. When WTO destroys rural livelihoods, it is women who loose the most. When WTO rules allow dumping which leads to decline in prices of farm products, it is womens - already low incomes, which go down further. Fourthly, their position vis-à-vis WTO is also more vulnerable because as the livelihoods and incomes of farmers in general, and women agriculturists in particular are eroded, they are displaced from productive roles, women in agriculture and their status is further devalued, while the patriarchal power of those who control assets and benefit from asset transfer due to globalisation is increased, other social processes are triggered which result in increased violence against women. The violence associated with displacement, devaluation and dis-empowerment takes the form of intensive violence, increasing incidences of rape, the epidemic of female foeticide, and growth in (1)
trafficking of women. Women also bear the ultimate burden of farm suicides, since they are left to look after their households without assets but with the burden of indebtedness. India has a geographical area of 328.73 million hectares; of which reported area for land use is 306.04 million hectares. The net area cultivated is about 142.60 million hectares i.e. about 46.6 per cent of the total reported area. Since nearly 50 million hectares of area is sown more than once, the cropping intensity works out to 135.1. Forests account for about 68.97 million hectares i.e. 22.5 percent of the total reported land area. Also nearly 13.97 million hectares are cultivable wastelands and 9.91 million hectares are fallow lands. Only about 30 percent of the total cropped area is irrigated and the remaining area is rain fed. The available statistics further shows that only about 66 percent of the gross cropped area is under food crops and nearly 34 percent area under nonfood crops. Cereals and pulses account for nearly 52.93 per cent and 12.64 percent of the total area respectively. Fruits and vegetables occupy nearly 4.24 percent of area. (Haque 2003) Plantation crops accounts for insignificant proportion of total area at the macro level, although these are very...
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