Her Excellency Smt. Pratibha Devisingh Patil, President of India, emphasized the need to empower women with new knowledge and skills to bring women into the mainstream of agricultural development and reduce gender disparity. She was delivering valedictory address in the Global Conference on Women in Agriculture as Chief Guest.
Today, much of the scientific knowledge and technologies does not reach rural women for various reasons. This needs rectification. Research systems must also seek the inputs of women, as they have historically been the source of much traditional knowledge and innovations at the grassroots level’, she said.
While appreciating the efforts of the National Agricultural Research System for bringing women in the fore front of agricultural research and development, President of India suggested forming of Mahila Kisan Mandals in every village to educate women on different aspects of agriculture and related activities. ‘I also believe that tapping the potential of Rainfed and Dry land farming is necessary. In this, water management would be essential, again an area where the role of women is crucial, and needs to be supported’, she added. Smt. Patil hoped that the outcomes of this Conference will contribute to enhancing agricultural production, and in bringing a transformation in the lives of women engaged in the sector. President of India conferred three best poster award and two best exhibition stall award to participating women delegates. She also released special publications brought out on the occasion.
Sri Sharad Pawar, Union Minister of Agriculture and Food Processing Industries and Chair of the Valedictory Function expressed satisfaction over the increasing participation of women in agriculture but was concerned that only 11 per cent women have access to land holdings, that too, mostly as small and marginal farmers. He opined that assertive interventions by the various governments are required to ensure that more and more women get access to the land holdings. ‘A Gender in Agriculture Platform for Gender in Agriculture Partnership (GAP 4 GAP) is required to be set up with hubs in different countries to work in this direction. The ICAR should take lead and address gender concerns through such a platform’, he added.
Sri Pawar appreciated the role of ICAR in technological empowerment of women in agriculture which has enabled the policy makers to take high level policy initiatives in this sector. The research efforts at the ICAR Institutes have focused on relieving women’s drudgery in agriculture by providing time and labour saving tools. Vocational trainings are also being conducted, to impart skills to undertake different vocations. In extension activities the women is now the centre point and activities are being planned keeping her in view. I am sure these efforts will change the way agriculture is practiced in India’, he added.
Dr Charan Das Mahant, Union Minister of State for Agriculture and Food Processing Industries graced the occassion.
Dr. R.S. Paroda, Executive Secretary, APAARI and Co-Chair, International Organizing Committee presented the glimpse of synthesis report based on the deliberations held during the conference. He elaborated upon the five action points for full empowerment of women in agriculture which include enhanced visibility for role of women, generation of knowledge and evidence for support and contextualization of global issues to suit local needs. More policy support and institutional mechanisms are required to achieve desired results. He said that collective action for empowerment of women is required so that they come together on a single platform to march further. Dr. Paroda informed the audience that second GCWA will be held in 2015 in Africa.
Earlier, Dr. S. Ayyappan, Secretary, DARE and Director General, ICAR and Chair IOC welcomed the dignitaries and highlighted focal points of the conference. He informed that nearly 500 delegates participated in the conference in which approximately 150 were from 50 countries of the world. While elaborating upon key initiatives of the ICAR for empowerment of women in agriculture, he informed that 36 per cent girl students are studying in various courses of State Agricultural Universities. Women have made a difference in agriculture and the time has now come that agriculture should make a difference in the lives of women, he added.
Dr. K.D. Kokate, Deputy Director General (Agriculture Extension) and Chair, NOC proposed vote of thanks and expressed his gratitude to President of India for visiting Innovation Market Place, organized as an event of this Conference, to showcase technology and products by farm women. (Source: NAIP Sub-Project on Mass Media Mobilization, DKMA)
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