SEWA Bharat

Project Theme

Small Holder Agriculture & Climate Change

Target Group

Others

Project Period

01 May 2016 - 30 Apr 2017

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Introduction

The Self Employed Women’s Association (SEWA) was founded in 1972 by Smt Ela Bhatt to organize poor, self-employed women to secure their dignity and rights. SEWA has been organizing   workers to support them to achieve “full employment” and make them “self – reliant” through the joint strategy of struggle and development. 

SEWA Bharat is the national-level federation of SEWA sister organizations across India. Its mandate is to advocate nationally and internationally on the issues facing women in the informal sector and strengthen the capacity of its member organizations. SEWA Bharat is now spread across 14 states of India, reaching over 1.7 million women workers of informal sector.

SEWA Bharat is providing an important platform to poor women producers in the informal economy to organise themselves, increase their bargaining power and incomes. By empowering women in the informal sector which represents 93% of the women contributing to the Indian economy, an equitable society is created with knowledge, access and voice. SEWA believes that when women have control over the forces affecting their livelihood be it finance, assets, shelter, market, technology, policies etc., they can enjoy the benefits of their hard labour which in turn impacts their lives and the community at large. It builds social capital to move people out of poverty.

SEWA Bharat organizes women workers to create responsive organizations and strengthen women’s socio-economy status and decision-making voice. Through organizing, women are enabled to counter forces that contribute to their impoverishment, and ensure sustainability of development activities.

SEWA in Bihar:  SEWA Bharat with its mandate to expand the movement, set afoot in Bihar way back in 1982. SEWA initiated work in two districts of Bihar namely Munger and Bhagalpur and later expanded work to Katihar, Patna and Purnea with membership of 96255 women workers. Women of these areas contribute to the growth of economy and society but are mystifyingly invisible. They are mostly engaged in agriculture, animal husbandry and home-based work like incense and bidi (local cigarette) rolling, spice making, weaving, stitching, domestic work etc. 

SEWA Bharat has been working on thematic areas for:

•Organizing and Capacity Building of community local leaders 

•Livelihood security through enhancing agriculture productivity of women farmers. 

•Improving livelihoods through development of women owned and managed livelihood institutions

•Skill Building for enhanced employability of young girls and women through market driven courses in SEWA’s Youth Resource centres   

•Health and Social Security facilitated through one stop center called as SEWA Shakti Kendra 

•Financial Inclusion through a state level thrift and credit Cooperative 

•Advocacy and Networking for the rights of the SEWA members  

 

Experience in Agriculture sector:

SEWA Bharat has experience of working with women agricultural workers in Bihar and Uttarakhand state. It has worked with nearly 3000 women farmers across both the states. SEWA worked towards building the capacity of the women to reduce their burden and work towards a long-term vision to make them self – sufficient by producing crops which lead to their overall economic empowerment with good market skills, linkages and knowledge. It has organized women in to producer groups which have strengthened decision making capabilities for a sustained income. SEWA Bharat has received support from UN Women and ITC for working with agriculture workers in two states.

In Bihar during FY  2014-15 , SEWA Bharat with ITC’s support extended its livelihood intervention to agriculture in Munger and worked towards building the capacity of these women to reduce their burden and work towards a long-term vision to make them self – sufficient by producing crops which lead to their overall economic empowerment with good market skills, linkages and knowledge.

 

About the Project

The primary aim of the project is to contribute towards economic empowerment of small and marginal women farmers of marginalised communities spread across 35 villages in 6 blocks of Munger and Bhagalpur districts of Bihar, India. The project will also reach out to men farmers, other community leaders, panchayat members and other stakeholders through capacity building workshops, interface meetings and exposure visits. Government officials, private sector companies, local traders will also be engaged with the project through interfaces and market linkages. Local educated youth will be engaged in the functioning of the farmers producer organizations and for sensitizing larger mass on women farmers concerns and women land rights. Effort would be made to develop knowledge partnership with agriculture department, universities and research institutes.

 

Women play a pivotal role in agriculture and their contribution to agriculture in terms of the number of tasks performed and time spent is greater than their male counterparts and they are responsible for more than 80% agricultural activities, they are still considered as helping hand and not recognised as farmers. Little has been done to strengthen capacities of women farmers who contribute greatly in pre and post production processes in vegetable sector.

 

Some of the basic problems faced by women farmers are in Bihar are - 

  • Women farmers don’t have the basic identity as ‘farmer’. Due to prevalent negative mind set in the society, they are largely considered to be a ‘helping hand’ of men and supposed to play supportive roles and hence deprived from decision making and control over agricultural production processes.
  • Women farmers are deprived from their legal rights including ownership over the land. Even where they hold title, their rights are de-jure and not de facto.
  • Women farmers are out of mainstream of the agriculture development. Agricultural extension programmes do not address the needs of women farmers rather they are discouraged. 
  • Due to typical nature of certain conditions imposed by the banks and other lending institutions, women farmers are virtually ‘debarred’ from availing credit facilities.

 

The economic condition of vegetable growers in the project area is poor and they are virtually at the bottom end of a long supply chain nested with intermediaries. Most of these intermediaries do not add any value to the final produce but earn a huge profit for just connecting the local farmer with vegetable vendors and consumers. Due to lack of employment opportunities the male migrate to other places in search of work and women perform the agricultural activities. However they do not have ownership over land as the lands are in the name of their husband and hence devoid of accessing government subsidies and other benefits meant for them. Lack of producer’s collective, high input costs, unavailability of credit, low access to market facilities, lack of warehouse or processing infrastructures and decreasing net return from agriculture are some of the major problems faced which makes it difficult for them to move out of viscous cycle of poverty.

 

The project would be focused on:

a.Recognition of women vegetable growers as farmer

b.Strengthening community level institutions

c.Formation of Farmer Producer Organisation

d.Building capacity / leadership of women farmers

e.Establishing linkages with the institutions of governance such as PRI, Block office, Agriculture Department and other line departments for taking forward aspirations of women vegetable growers.

f.Advocacy for policy asks and realisation of rights and entitlements

 

Hence, the project in the first stage will work on promoting and strengthening women producer organizations, building their capacity through training and exposures and by linking them to input market for quality resources. Considering inefficient market being a significant block in the vegetable supply chain, the project will work to collectivize the producers and link them with the market for increased bargaining capacity. Traders will be engaged through buyer-seller meet, round table discussions to facilitate the linkage between producer and buyers. To enhance women farmers’ access to resources including land, credit and government schemes a two prong strategy is required. Project will work to build women farmers’ capacity and knowledge to enable them to demand their rights; and will work with policy makers, government officials and other stakeholders at various levels to create an enabling atmosphere for women farmers to demand their rights.  

 

Specific objective of the project is:

To contribute to the socio-economic empowerment of women farmers of two districts of Bihar through increased vegetable production, supply chain management, increased bargaining capacity in the market and increased social recognition of women as farmers.

 

This would be achieved by undertaking the following set of activities – 

•Training on Sustainable Agricultural Practices / new agriculture innovation 

•Training on testing of soil to apply balance dose of fertilizer 

•Training on Vegetable Cultivation / Production / Storage Training on Insect, Pest and Disease 

•Land use and cropping system planning with Women vegetable producer Demonstration of vegetable nursery / Promotion of farm tools 

•Demonstration of Vermin Compost / Compost pit 

•Demonstration of Drip Irrigation 

•Piloting ICT based technology for technical assistance and business development / Demonstration on Innovative Techniques 

•Exposure visit of women vegetable producers, community leaders 

•Documentation and dissemination of best practices / success stories of women farmers 

•Support for collection centres (Purchasing of instruments required for the collection centres such as vegetable crates, weighing machines, tray etc.) 

•Support for formation of farmer producer organization (Registration, Registrar of Companies’ Act (RoC) compliance and other legal fee, statutory audit and business licence (Agriculture, sales tax, seed and fertilizer licence etc.) Value Added Tax (VAT).

•Management training to functionaries of Farmer Producer Organization 

•Support cost for establishing and functioning of women farmer collection centres/ Sewa Shakti Kendra (Rent and other support cost of 4 collection centres)

•District Level Convention of Women Farmers 

•Awareness drive on recognition of women as farmers 

•Meeting with male members and other stakeholders on the role of women in governance and other decision making bodies 

•Capacity building of women and collectives on entitlement and provisions in agriculture and other livelihood schemes of Government 

 

 

Results to be Achieved 

The organization aims to empower the community through strengthening community level institutions, building capacity / leadership of women farmers, increasing their access to resources, strengthening linkages with key stakeholders and advocacy for policy asks and realisation of rights and entitlements are few of the requisite steps that would lead to their socio economic empowerment. Hence, the project in the first stage will work on promoting and strengthening women producer organizations, building their capacity through training and exposures and by linking them to input market for quality resources. Considering inefficient market being a significant block in the vegetable supply chain, the project will work to collectivize the producers and link them with the market for increased bargaining capacity. Traders will be engaged through buyer-seller meet, round table discussions to facilitate the linkage between producer and buyers. To enhance women farmers’ access to resources including land, credit and government schemes a two prong strategy is required. Project will work to build women farmers’ capacity and knowledge to enable them to demand their rights; and will work with policy makers, government officials and other stakeholders at various levels to create an enabling atmosphere for women farmers to demand their rights.

 

Specific result to be achieved during the project period are:

•2/3 of the 3000 women vegetable growers will increase their production by about 20 % until the end of the project by using sustainable agricultural practises.

•At least 80% of 3000 women horticulture producers have improved access to profitable markets and their bargaining power as well as their role in the vegetable value chain is sustainably strengthened. 

•The income level has improved by at least 10-15% for 2/3 of the 3000 women farmers.

•By the end of the project period, 3000 women are organised in two autonomous functioning producer organisations.

•By the end of the project the 50% of 3000 women are actively involved in decision making and are recognized by the government and the local population as farmers.

•By the end of the project period access to governmental development schemes is improved.