Women break into male domain of agriculture and set up a farming cooperative in Bihar.
Varsha Jawalgekar brings us the inspiring report of a group of women in her district Patna who have mastered the art of traditional farming and are collectively doing everything that was until now done only by men in their community: ploughing, transplanting, weeding, irrigating, applying manure and harvesting. Through this, they have been able to sell their produce and make money for their families.
Varsha came across this story while she was volunteering for a women's empowerment project with an NGO. She found it immensely inspiring because, in Bihar especially, women have never been perceived as food providers or farmers. As land is traditionally owned by men and single ownership in the woman's name - or joint ownership with both names - is still rare, the collective effort of these women led by Munnadevi was a success story that Varsha felt she had to share to show the tiny steps of progress her state is experiencing.
These women are collaboratively farming about an acre of land, which they've taken out on lease. Varsha feels that wherever land is owned and managed by women, there are signs that they use it as collateral to borrow money to start up micro-businesses which generate a steady income. The women also grow in confidence and demand services from the government for themselves and their children.
Varsha believes that there may be a long way to go until women in her community get equal rights to own land, but through this farming effort, the women of Bara village have taken a bold step towards that.
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