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Gender Perspectives for Sustaining Sugarcane based Farming System

Economic development of any society depends on the quality of human resources. Women referred as ‘invisible farmers’ are the backbone of agricultural work force in our country. Be it in crop farming, animal husbandry, fisheries, forestry or any allied agricultural activities, women do the most tedious and strenuous tasks. In production agriculture, women are active partners associating in almost all unit operations of agriculture sharing work between 20-80% in certain cases and almost 100% especially in those involving arduous repetitive work. Gender issues assume great importance in Indian agricultural scenario due to the large diversity in the status of women which is influenced mostly by social and religious taboos, economic status and farm production systems. Rural women hold the key to many of the agricultural systems for food production, seed selection and sustained farming. Sugarcane is an annual crop wherein more than 45 million people are engaged in various activities. We know that women play a major role in sugarcane farming but we do not know enough about what this means for technology development, adoption and further impact on productivity. Women’s labour terrain is not confirmed to the farm alone. Apart from the nature of work, the measuring of time expended has rarely been addressed. Hence, issues relating to both research coverage and impact in terms of gender need careful study. Accordingly, a study was conducted in three districts of Tamil Nadu covering 94 farm women. The present paper highlights the gender perspectives in sugarcane farming in terms of their participation level, their decision making pattern in varied activities, time utilization pattern, drudgeries involved and thereby implications suggesting sustainable interventions, addressing both the practical and strategic issues.

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