How government aid can help attract more rural women in agri-entrepreneurship
Government aid is much needed to attract more rural women towards agri-entrepreneurship in India and make this segment self-sustaining.
Tuesday May 16, 2023,
4 min Read
Rural women form the backbone of Indian agriculture, but their contribution is often not recognised. This is despite the fact that agriculture employs about 80 per cent of rural women. While there is a definite increase in their participation in the workforce, more sustained and concentrated efforts are needed to ensure that women play a decisive role in accelerating the growth of Indian agriculture as well as of the country's economy.
Today, a growing number of rural women are taking up roles of entrepreneurs, cultivators and labourers. Mainstreaming rural women in the workforce can bring a transformational shift in ensuring food security and preserving local agro-biodiversity.
According to a McKinsey study, rural women entrepreneurs could contribute $1 trillion to the Indian economy by levelling the playing field for themselves. Additionally, India has 432 million working-age women and 13.5-15.7 million women-owned businesses that provide direct employment to 22-27 million people.
While the numbers are encouraging, there are several areas where rural women in agriculture continue to face challenges. Despite making significant contributions, these women are not able to reap the benefits of their efforts because of their low social status. In the absence of education and gender equality, their progress is further hampered. The global food and economic crisis too aggravates their challenges. According to a factsheet by Oxfam, in India, 17 crore women work in agriculture producing about 60-80 per cent of our food, but only 13 per cent have property rights.
The Indian government has launched initiatives such as Mahila Kisan Sashaktikaran Pariyojana (MKSP) and Deendayal Antyodaya Yojana-National Rural Livelihood Mission to train women in skill development, agriculture, and entrepreneurship.
While these schemes have helped, more needs to be done for women in agriculture to gain access to institutional credit, new technologies, and infrastructure. Government aid, therefore, is much needed to attract more rural women towards agri-entrepreneurship in India and make this segment self-sustaining.
Here are some ways in which the government can help:
1. Financial Assistance: The government can provide financial assistance through loans, grants, and subsidies to rural women who want to start agri-entrepreneurship ventures. It will help women overcome financial barriers and start their businesses.
2. Skill Development: The government can provide training and skill development programs for rural women to learn about agri-entrepreneurship. This can include courses on business management, marketing, and agricultural practices. These programs can be organised at the village level to make them more accessible to rural women.
3. Infrastructure Development: The government can invest in developing infrastructure such as cold storage facilities, processing units, and marketing outlets. This will create opportunities for rural women to add value to their agricultural products and sell them at better prices.
4. Policy Support: The government can develop policies that promote and support agri- entrepreneurship among rural women. This can include policies that provide tax incentives, simplify regulatory processes, and encourage women's participation in decision-making bodies.
5. Networking Opportunities: The government can provide networking opportunities for rural women to connect with other women entrepreneurs, government officials, and industry experts. This can help women learn from each other, build partnerships, and access new markets.
6. Use of Technology: Technology is a proven game changer, and it can have an incredible effect on the lives of rural women entrepreneurs who run various micro, small, and medium companies in rural and semi-urban areas. Technology provides faster access and information related to finance and marketing that could help them in the longer run. The government can take the initiative to hold seminars or camps to bring them closer to technology. Even the use of smartphones can be encouraged by the authorities.
Empowering women entrepreneurs can unlock the full potential of half of India's population, contributing to sustainable economic growth and poverty reduction. With the proper support and resources, this can become a powerful force for economic and social progress in India.
(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of YourStory.)