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Powering the Women in Agriculture: Lessons on Women Led Farm Mechanisation in South India

Alex, Jiju P.
The journal of agricultural education and extension 2013 v.19 no.5 pp. 487-503
activists, agricultural colleges, crop production, decision making, experts, farmers, farms, gender, issues and policy, livelihood, local government, mechanization, models, planning, production technology, questionnaires, scientists, social capital, socioeconomics, women in agriculture, India
Purpose: This article analyses how an initiative on farm mechanisation by a local government in Kerala in South India evolved into a formal organisation that provides sustainable livelihood options to women and small and marginal farmers and revived the rice production system. Design/methodology/approach: The study followed the case analysis method. Data were collected by interactions and focus group discussions with people's representatives, trained members of the organisation, farmers and experts of the state agricultural university. A semi-structured questionnaire was used to elicit responses systematically. Findings: Women can be more instrumental in addressing concerns on the sustainability of livelihood systems. However, this requires new institutional arrangements and models of linkages that can empower communities. Democratisation of planning and decision-making has enabled better synergy among various actors at the grass-roots level. Local bodies, research and extension institutions, etc., have been found to have significant roles to play as partners in showing new pathways. Women-led farm mechanisation could be used as a tool for reviving agricultural production systems and for ensuring food and livelihood security. The case highlights the need for evolving context specific organisations to address emerging socio-economic and environmental issues. Practical implication: Sustainability of vulnerable production systems in the emerging socio-economic contexts can be enhanced by gender-sensitive innovations in creating trained social capital and specialised institutions. Originality/value: The inference drawn would be of importance to policy experts, development practitioners, scientists and activists as it would help them explore innovative partnerships and linkages at the grass-roots level to address major socio-economic, gender and environmental issues.