Government of India in its agriculture reforms has initiated a scheme entitled "Support to State Extension Programmers". The major guiding principles of the scheme are as:
• Reforming State Agricultural Extension.
• Promoting private sector to compliment and supplement public extension system.
• Augment media and information technology.
• Empowerment of women through mainstreaming gender issues.
• Capacity building /skilled up-gradation of farmers and farm women.
In this scheme the state level training institute of all the states were upgraded as autonomous State Agriculture Management and Extension Training Institute (SAMETI). Govt. of Jammu and Kashmir has also utilized this scheme and upgraded Directorate of Extension Education, SKUAST-K as SAMETI-Kashmir vide order No: 341 Agri. of 2005 dated 18.11.2005. During last few years SAMETI has developed a number of training programme for scientific, research and extension planning of various ATMA districts which consisted of masters training programmes, training of various KVKs, NGOs and ATMA personnel, formation of executive and general councils of the SAMETI etc. Various participatory mode of extension activities were conducted in selected modal villages.
Various Kissan Melas, Kissan Awareness Programmes, Kissan Call Centres were established and publications have been circulated among the farmers free of cost. During the last few years many projects have been initiated in consultation with NGOs like Aga Khan Foundation, Border Security Force and other NGOs. Today’s Farm Women Conference has the objectives of empowerment of the women through organizing trainings in collaboration with KVKs, NGOs, Self Help Groups etc.
As per the information from National Women Research Centre, 43% time of farm women is spent on the activities of Agriculture. The industrialized nations too have problems for the farm women. In USA managerial jobs are mend by men but the jobs like bottle washing in the private sectors are done by women. Many rural and agriculture inequalities have been addressed in various conferences in USA, during April, 2008. The agricultural inequalities need to be addressed if we have to achieve social and political empowerment for women. While speaking in the conference Director SAMETI gave details of issues of women in agriculture and said that the access and control over resources is very meager. There is a need for training modules, skill up-gradation. Todays conference is aimed at evolving the consensus among public / private concerns for empowerment of women through agricultural skill upgradation. Self Help Groups shall play important part in technology dissemination and awareness.
There have been successful experiences achieved in India for eco-friendly pest management through women’s participation. The cost competitive farming has been achieved in some of the under developed nations by training women in agriculture. Social awareness and sanitation responsibilities could be shouldered by the women very easily. All we need is to upgrade skills and knowledge of the farm women in J&K state.
Unfortunately, like other states we do not have data base on women issues in agriculture. Farm implements and reduction of drudgery of farm women has never been attempted or mitigated in J&K. Thus development of training modules for mobilization of women to achieve their livelihood through self help groups is needed. We have various models operative in other states of country. Like Udaipur, Rajasthan where women income has been raised from few rupees to thousands of rupees per month by channelizing sewage water for irrigation of vegetable crops. Study comprising of women agriculture labourers has indicated that 42% women wanted training in live stocks and 44% wanted training in vegetables. Unfortunately neither the social nor agriculture scientists have a data base for J&K available as on today. This is why the present training programme has been proposing to construct the data base. In this direction we may be in touch with Women Research Institute of ICAR. Half of the work force in agriculture consists of women.
It is known that 43.7% of the agriculture workers are women. Tamil Nadu Agriculture University has made a study, which reveals that traditional sickles used by farm women were increasing heart rate and heart beats of the women more than the limit of 110 and 40 beats/ minute. On the other hand the KVK Dapoli sickle has been found to be most suitable for the women which does not increase heart beat or pulse rate.
Though SAMETI-K has felt that technological empowerment for women is essential and SAMETI-K is conducting a survey through Participatory Rapid Appraisal Techniques (PRAT). The scientists of the SAMETI alongwith other NGOs and related specialists has visited Uri, Sumbal, Koil Muqam, Srinagar, Anantnag and other places and have prepared district strategic plans for Kupwara, Baramulla, Bandipora, Srinagar, Anantnag and Budgam districts. The need of technology interventions for empowerment of women have been identified.
Training modules have been discussed in Academic Council of SAMETI. Many interventions have been identified in consultation with self help groups in Sumbal and Uri. There is a need to actively receive support from all the concerns like Central, State Agriculture Scientists, Public Funding Agencies, Science and Technology Departments and other donor departments to participate and collaborate with the SAMETI, so that some of the problems of farm women could be mitigated.
We have a poorest of poor women called fisherwomen who need an integration for livelihood. We can emulate some of the success stories from elsewhere. It has been seen that integrating fisher women with poultry can help to increase their income. The fish-poultry ponds can substantially increase the income of fisher women. Three such small units clubbed with poultry-duck could give a yearly income of 40-42,000/-. It is estimated that vegetable-fish yield in such ventures gave 3 to 7 tonnes/hac. We have enough space available around banks of Wular and Jehlum, open flood channels across the city and towns for this venture.
Ours is a fruit dependant economy. We can benefit our farm women by devising Zero Energy Cool Chambers. Our Post Harvest Technology Division has already demonstrated and worked on such cool chambers on the bases of feed back from Directorate of Extension Education. A small amount of Rs.5000/- was given to PHT which has led to successful development of Zero Energy Cool Chambers. Many more ventures of trainings for women, both unemployed, semi employed, or house wives were planned. We have even options for working women or studying girls to increase their pocket money from ornamental floriculture products, agro-based products, marketing, value addition and preservation of Agri-products. We have attempted a series of trainings for women. Some of them were presented in the conference and narrated their success stories.
However, a consolidated banking loan – advisory system is to be evolved if these trained women could be the real entrepreneurs. Many other issues to solve the problems have been discussed and identified like self banking ventures, collection of information system, self education and economic diversification. J&K Govt. has a number of programmes, water shed management, horticulture missions which need essentially to have 20-30% farm women participation, if these programmes are to be crowned with success.
Our social – cultural system is more competent than rest of the country, because our women has a religious and cultural right to hire 1/3rd property of parents which can encourage them to be self reliant and self sustained entrepreneur. Many other options like preparation of mushroom, vermiculture, vegetable preservation, pickle making, vegetable drying and post harvest management of all crops and fruits can be the successful training modules for our farm women. One wonders to know that state like Rajasthan has women’s cooperatives.
It is astonishing to know that first women’s bank with International help is in Chandnichowk, not of Rawalpendi, Pakistan, as identified by UNO Group of women. Azarbaijan, another muslim country with similar veil culture is leading country in the world where workable age of women (16-57) is nearer to workable age of men (16-62). For example in Kashmir (Srinagar) where Tibatien women had a marketing space in Lal Chowk still exists in Leh. In rural Kashmir most of the fish marketing is in the hands of the women. Same is the case in marketing of Singhada. We need to have trainings and basic facilities for these women, so that they can save and plan their incomes in modern way.
It was also emphasized that we should come up with help for house wives, widows and old aged women. The study has shown that western style feminization in India has not worked. This is the work of the Ph.D study undertaken by Scotland Ph.D scholar – Dr. D.Smith who emphasized training of women agriculture workers within their villages. Empowerment of farm women is the only way to lead their political power. These experiences has been successful in the world’s largest Islamic Country, Indonesia, where it is now a routine that women’s share in political ground higher than the developed countries. We will have to imbibe examples from Hongkong to uplift and install fish, vegetable marketing activities by women.
SAMETI so far in collaboration with NGO, KVKs conducted 113 training programmes for women during the year 2007-08 which benefited 2278 farm women.