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Impact of rural outmigration on women and women empowerment through entrepreneurship discussed at Krushi Odisha 2024

(14 January 2024) Women empowerment through agro-entrepreneurship and the impact of rural outmigration on the livelihood of rural households and the women who are left behind were featured at the 2024 Krushi Odisha in Bhubaneswar, Odisha.

The two issues were tackled in the panel discussions organized by the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), Low-Glycemic Index (GI)  rice industry and women empowerment through value addition of indigenous staple foods and Migration–impact on farm women.

The first topic explored the dual objectives of Odisha’s Department of Agriculture and Farmers’ Empowerment (DA&FE) and the Department of Mission Shakti (DMS) in promoting sustainable agriculture and uplifting the socio-economic status of women in the state through entrepreneurship development.

“DMS and DA&FE recognize the important role played by women in the agricultural sector,” said Dr. U.S. Singh, IRRI advisor for Asia and Africa. “There is the need to empower not just the women farmers but all women across the value chain by featuring opportunities for entrepreneurship, developing and promoting innovative products, and engaging them in capacity development.”

Innovative products include IRRI 147 and IRRI 162 rice with low-GI and high-protein value recently released by IRRI. Low-GI rice varieties not only have the potential to revolutionize the rice-based dietary landscape and provide healthier options for consumers but also higher income for farmers.

The impact of migration on farm women discussed the results of a study conducted by the CGIAR GENDER Impact Platform in collaboration with the Indian Institute of Technology Hyderabad and IRRI. The study generated data for understanding the migration patterns and their impacts on the women left behind and the livelihood of rural households.

“One significant challenge is the low productivity of farms managed by women,” said Dr. Rajitha Puskur, a scientist at IRRI and lead for CGIAR’s Evidence Module. “This is attributed to their lack of knowledge and skills in farm management, limited access to technologies and training opportunities, and a dearth of institutional credit. The absence of access to women-friendly machinery and equipment further hinders their efficiency.”

Domestic work including childcare and taking care of the elderly, limited mobility, sociocultural dynamics, health issues, and limited access to healthcare services are among the other challenges women face in earning a livelihood.

Dr. Swati Nayak, South Asia lead for Seed System and Product Management and recipient of the 2023 Norman Borlaug Field Award, discussed how seed production and marketing can help in the socio-economic development of women.

Krushi Odisha is an annual agriculture-related event organized by DA&FE and the Federation of the India Chamber of Commerce and Industry. This year’s Krushi Odisha celebrated women in agriculture and was held in Bhubaneswar from 12 to 14 January.