Nearly 2.5 billion people rely on rice for their main staple food and countless individuals spend the greater part of their earnings to feed their families. Simultaneously rice cultivation is a significant source of employment, particularly for poor people. The maximum of the world’s rice production is grown by small-scale farmers from developing countries.
When we think of the word farmer, we all imagine a man. But did you know many rice farmers are women? According to IRRI,500 million women around the world are engaged in rice cultivation,47% of the global agricultural labour force is women. But 87 % of women’s agricultural labour is unpaid and unrecognized worldwide.
Women and rice farming :
Growing rice is a labour-intensive undertaking, requiring physically-demanding work throughout the cropping season, performed usually in unsanitary conditions. When rice is the major source of employment, women in rural areas plays a significant role with men. All over the world, women have customarily played and keep on playing, a significant role in pre-plantation, plantation, harvesting and post-harvesting activities.
Women’s role in Rice production :
Nursery Management :
Women create nurseries by tilling the soil. Then they spill the seeds and manage them for till they uproot. It takes 30 days in the conventional method.
After 30 days Women pull up seedlings from the nursery in bending positions or sitting in the muddy nurseries. The soil at the root has to be cleaned and bundle the seedling for transplanting to the field.
Transporting Seedlings :
From the nursery, the seedlings will be transported to the main field. Women carry a minimum of 7 kgs to a maximum of 30 kgs of seedling bundles and spread over the field for transplanting.
Women stand in a bending position and hold the seedling weighing a maximum of 200 grams and plunge their hands into the mud till their wrist. Women farmers do the same for a minimum of 40 times per minute.
In the bending position, women do the weeding of the field, It is tiresome work as they do it 2 or 3 times before harvesting.
In Harvesting, women do the rice crop bundling, separating the rice from the stock, drying out the rice, and milling the rice.
Being a framer is hard but being a women farmer is hardest as they have to take care of the family as well the field. But most of the works are unrecognized as people see it as an extension of their normal family duties.
Since women have limited access to resources and technologies they could not reach their growth and personal fulfillment through farming. It’s high time to recognize women’s roles in the agriculture sector. We should train women as farmer leaders to gain confidence and enhance the status of women in the family and community.