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Convention stresses on need for protection of women farmers’ rights & welfare

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Kohima, October 15: Marking the International Day of Rural Women, the Nagaland Women Farmers’ Convention held under the aegis of Nagaland chapter of Mahila Kisan Adhikar Manch (MAKAAM) Monday stressed on the need to take up the welfare of women farmers in all earnestness.
The convention was held under the theme “Sustainable infrastructure and services for the empowerment of rural women and girls” at SIRD auditorium here.
Addressing the gathering of rural women farmers from all the districts of the State and government agencies, MAKAAM NFT member Rukmini Rao said women farmers produce food for the whole state and country but sadly their own children are facing the issues of malnutrition.
In this, she said that Nagaland should have a Council of Women Farmers, which will advise the government on the welfare of the women farmers.
Rural women farmers does not require infrastructure development alone, she said adding that the government has to work for their welfare by providing facilities for storage of their produces, market linkage with transportation facilities and also loan facilities.
A single window centre should be initiated for women farmers, she said.
While producing for the entire nation, women farmers should also ensure food security for their own families in order to have a dignified life, she said.
Principal Secretary to Government of Nagaland (Agriculture), N. Hushili Sema said that women constitute approx 70% of workforce in agriculture sector in the state.
Lauding the contribution of Naga women in agriculture activities, she maintained that women are the custodians of seeds and backbone of the state’s economy.
On behalf of the government, she asserted that the department will give more importance by working along with women farmers in term of adaption of seeds and plants.
She also said that the government is now working on single window clearance to address the problems being faced the women farmers.
MAKAAM Nagaland member Khesheli Chishi said rural women play a crucial role in ensuring food and nutrition security for both rural and urban communities; improving rural livelihoods and overall well being of their communities.
In rural India, more than 80% of women depend on agriculture for their livelihoods yet they remain disproportionately affected by poverty, exclusion, and affects of environmental and climate change, she said.
In the context of Nagaland, farmers particularly women have been playing a significant role in the conservation of genetic agro-biodiversity through traditional forest based agricultural practices, jhum and terrace agriculture, homestead gardening, seed saving and sharing.
Quoting Census 2011, she said that 65.2% and 7.3% of female workers in rural Nagaland constitute the cultivators and agricultural workers respectively, outnumbering male cultivators (47.4%) and male agricultural labourers (5.8%).
However, women farmers remain invisible in their identity as farmers, she lamented.
Despite progress on many fronts, due to structural barriers and discriminatory social norms, women and girls in rural Nagaland lack equal access to and control of productive resources and assets, she said.
However, women farmers remain invisible in their identity as farmers. Despite progress on many fronts, due to structural barriers and discriminatory social norms, women and girls in rural Nagaland lack equal access to and control of productive resources and assets: their voice, agency and representation in the political and economic spheres continue to be hindered, she said.
“Their access to infrastructure, services and social protection also remains a huge challenge,” she said.
It is in this context, she said Nagaland MAKAAM, a forum for women farmers’ rights aims to provide space for interaction between women farmers and government agencies towards improving their livelihoods and wellbeing through such convention.
Meanwhile, the as part of World Food Day, MAKAAM Nagaland will be holding Women Farmers Market at High School junction Kohima from 6 a.m. Wednesday. (Page News Service)

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