Toiling for generations but not farmers yet

Women in agriculture face multiple challenges due to lack of land entitlements, recognition Shahjahan Begum Mehboobani grows corn, onions, tomatoes and vegetables on her three-acre plot in Dharwad district of Karnataka. She’s also a responsible member of her local gram panchayat. But without a land patta in her name, it’s difficult to apply for a bank loan. “The bank wanted documents I could not give, so they did not give me a loan. But I have been able to get a Rs. 1 lakh loan from our self-help group to dig a borewell,” she said proudly. Her problem is not unique. About 300 women farmers from 24 States gathered for a Mahila Kisan Diwas conference on Monday and shared similar challenges. No benefits “The lack of a land title prevents women farmers from having access to credit, resources, extension services, decision making, employment and benefits that are commensurate to their labour,” said Shobha Nagnur, professor at the University of Agricultural Sciences, Dharwad, who chaired a group of farmers discussing the constraints faced by and strategies needed for women in agriculture. “I work on four acres of land but it was in my father’s name, so it automatically went to my brother, even though I am the one who actually cultivates it,” said Jayanti Pradhan, a farmer and entrepreneur from Sambalpur in Odisha, who grows mushrooms, makes vermicompost and trains others in organic farming. “If I need a loan, if I want to be part of any government scheme, if I need certification for marketing purposes – for everything, I need an identity card which shows that I am a farmer too, since the land patta is not in my name.”

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