RDI ( Rural Development Institute) / Landesa

Project Theme

Small Holder Agriculture & Climate Change

Target Group


Project Period

01 Aug 2015 - 30 Mar 2016

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Women constitute 86% of the labour force in agriculture in India as against 62% men. Women work nearly 3400 Hrs as against 1212 Hrs by men and 1054 Hrs by animals in a one hectare farm in India. However, as per Indian Agricultural census, women own only about 9% of land in India, and in some states they own as low as 2-4%. Despite widespread recognition of feminisation of Indian agriculture in the academic and policy literature, women agricultural producers are not recognised as a farmer in Indian official policy, neither the society is ready to accept them as a farmer in their own right. Women have only received their legal entitlement to inherit agricultural land in 2005 when the Hindu Succession Act was amended last. However, this amendment is still largely unknown the most civil society actors, and almost completely unknown to the women and men for whom it matters. To make the matter worse, the state governments in most states such as have not issued any circulars informing their staff about this amendment resulting in large information deficit even among the state machinery.  Further, there are serious formal and informal barriers that exist against women claiming their rightful inheritance.  All these call for a carefully crafted strategy to elevate the issues of landless people and women farmers at all levels, local and national. Besides women farmers, share croppers also forms a major section of disadvantaged farmers group as they do not have access to any government benefits or assistance in absence of legal land document. Leasing out of agricultural land in India today is either legally banned or highly restricted in most parts for the past five to six decades, even though it continues on an informal basis everywhere. The tenancy reform laws adopted by most Indian states after independence, not only aimed at conferring ownership or occupancy rights on the tenants, with respect to tenanted lands, but also either prohibited or restricted leasing or-subleasing of land in future in order to prevent exploitation of tenants.  Of the total rural households leasing-in land, according to the NSS data, 35.8% of the tenants are landless; 47.5% own less than 0.5 ha, while 8.2% own between 0.5-1 ha of land.  The poor landless and marginal farmers lease-in land to improve their income and livelihoods while some medium and large farmers’ lease-in land in order to utilize their resources. 

Oxfam India has taken this as one of their country engagement strategy in India, and is already working with its partners on this issue. Rural Development Institute, has also made securing land rights to all landless and women’s land rights as one of its strategic objectives in India. It has already built in these issues in its programmes at state and national level. 

Rural Development Institute is registered in India as Public Charitable Trust, and has FCRA registration. It’s a family member of Landesa, USA and has acquired the same brand name in India. It works in four states of Odisha, Andhra, West Bengal and Karnataka where it has its state office and state teams. Its national office primarily works on research and advocacy, networking, and technical support to state teams. Rural Development Institute India has 53 employees on its roll. Further, it receives assistance from Landesa USA on funding, research, law, and internal capacity building, for which it has an MOU with them. RDI is a new applicant to Oxfam India and wishes to develop a long term relationship to further the cause of land and forest rights issues and women farmers’ issues in India. 


About the Project: 

This project is being implemented with a goal  to contribute to increase women farmers and landless agriculture labourers access to and control over land . This year it intends to Initiate wider discussion around agriculture tenancy liberalisation in India by way of designing model tenancy guidelines, so as to ensure that sharecroppers, especially small and marginal have greater access to farmland with increased productivity.

Activities undertaken under this project for 2015-16 are- preparing a model tenancy guideline based upon secondary literature review , consultation with stakeholder; and then disseminating the model guideline through media advocacy and national consultation.


Results to be Achieved: 

a.Formation of a model tenancy guideline 

b.Disseminating the guideline with major stakeholders including media through consultations and media advocacy


Outcomes: We have so far achieved (Achievements):

  1. Two national level media workshops and three state level media workshop has been organized in the year 2012-13 and 2013-14. As a result of the media workshops around  75 journalists from mainstream and vernacular media get sensitized on women farmers issues and on women land laws. The media event resulted into more than 32 mainstream media reports and opinion articles on women farmers’ issues.
  2. 29 women farmers from six states of India- Odisha, UP, Bihar, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra and Uttarakhand where Oxfam India works through its partners. Felicitation was successful to draw attention of policy makers and media despite of budget session; however, biggest achievement of the event was the energy it generated among women farmers for continued fight for their right. 
  3. 65 Civil Society Organization members’ capacity has been built on Land laws who are working in the ground with women farmers for increased movement for women farmers’ land application process. 
  4. A fact sheet on women land rights has been produced and widely distributed among the key stakeholders.
  5. A study on impact of  women land rights ( joint land title vs. single land title) on women economic empowerment has been done in two districts of Uttar Pradesh. 
  6. Four policy analysis documents on women and land for four states- Bihar, Odisha, Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand have been prepared


Quotes of Beneficiaries: 

Kalpana Sharma-  Bringing together journalists working on agriculture and women farmers issues provides a platform to have deeper discussion on the issue, built better understanding  and motivate for collective movement for achievement of the goal”

Prof. M.S. Swaminathan- “ Women farmers felicitation is an exemplary initiative to bring women farmers to fore front who are significantly, both intellectually and physically, contributing towards food production”

" I'm feeling confident & proud  to be felicitated for my work  in Delhi"-  Ms. Leelawati (Women Farmer from Bundelkhand