Farming knows no Gender! Nagaland unit of women farmers step forward to secure farming rights
 Source : News Bharati English  Date : 05-May-2017

Dimapur, May 5: The Nagaland unit of the Mahila Kisan Adhikar Manch (MAKAAM), a forum for ‘women farmers,’ organised a consultative programme on “building convergence towards securing women farmers’ rights in Nagaland”.
The MAKAAM aims to focus on issues and concerns of women farmers.  According to a press release from the organisers the event brought together 38 participants comprising “women farmers” from five districts of Nagaland, organizations supporting and working with women farmers, representatives from the Labour & Employment Department; SIRD, and the NABARD.

The Mahila Kisan Adhikar Manch was described in the press release as a forum for “women farmers’ rights.” It is a national alliance of campaigns, networks, organizations, individuals that advocates for the advancement of women farmers’ rights, press release stated.

Vechulo-u Kanuo, Executive Director of CWWS, highlighted that women play a very important role in the society in sustaining food security. Setting the context of the agenda, Khesheli Chishi, advisor to IWFNEI, emphasized that the consultation was to bring together diverse stakeholders, to build a common understanding on the issues of women farmers, and bridge the gap between the farmers, their organisations, and the government agencies.

Wekowe-u Tsuhah, programme manager of NEN, said that a ‘farmer’ was generally perceived as ‘male farmer’ and women are not recognized as farmers, despite the fact that women contributes significantly in agriculture and allied activities.

“And this non-recognition of women farmers’ contribution and invisibility of women farmers in policy affects women access to resources. She highlighted that rural women suffer disproportionately in comparison to men because of their role in production, social cultural norms, etc,”.

“It is therefore crucial for programmes or schemes or policies to address gender specific concerns. Referring to SDGs of ending poverty, achieving zero hunger and food security, gender equality and empowerment of women and girls, decent work and economic growth, Tsuhah pointed that unless rural women’s contribution is recognized and their concerns are included in policies, achieving a sustainable world will be far from reality.”

The consultations explored issues, challenges and demands on four issues namely access to financial services, access to market, access to information, tools and technology, and the promotion and support for ecological agriculture.

The organisation then sought provisions for vending zones for “women street vendors,” market yards for women wholesalers and suppliers. Another recommendation to the authorities was for ensuring safety and security to women in their workplaces and in public transports.

The event also appealed for recognition of “traditional knowledge of women farmers in conservation of genetic diversity,” and to provide infrastructural support for women-led seed banks. They asked to include and increase women farmers as farm extension workers and resource persons to bridge the information gap, the press release stated.

The other recommendations appealed to the authorities the following: to recognise and promote traditional livelihoods such as loin-loom weaving and provide marketing linkages; strengthen financial literacy, marketing and value addition training for women farmers; equal access to trainings and exposures for women farmers; schemes and input services should be demand-driven. Seed programmemes should procure traditional seeds from farmers; quality seeds suitable to the soil, climate, at the right season with the correct information should be given to women farmers.

Likewise, the press release stated promotion and supporting diversity-based ecological agriculture where small and marginal women farmers are involved, and promote food crops that ensure food and nutritional securities, and protect the environment from adverse effects of chemical farming; translate Nagaland State Organic Policy into action.

“Sensitization of policymakers, planners and programmeme implementers on the need for specific focus on women farmers in the hilly terrain and to recognise single women farmers as a significant category that should receive priority attention for access to knowledge, schemes and support services,” stated another recommendation.

“Women-friendly tools and technology appropriate for hilly terrain, and food-processing technology to decrease drudgery should be developed and made available for women farmers,” stated another point in the press release.