Agriculture is an old tradition that provides a living for around 58% of India’s people. It is crucial, accounting for around 17-18% of the Indian economy. Contract farming has gained prominence in the agro-industry as a result of rapid expansion and globalization. Cash crops like indigo, cotton, opium, tobacco, and tea have traditionally been farmed under this system, which has been in operation in various Indian states for at least two decades, but there was no absolute and universal rule in place by September 2020.
Farming achieved its commercial perspective through the introduction of privatization, trading, export, and yielding maximum profit with low-cost production of crops. It has tremendously grown during the past years. As the agricultural sector grows, issues associated with it also increase such as the status of women in farming, laborers, soil fertility, land rights, agricultural markets, etc.
Contract farming is known as an agreement of agricultural production, between the farmers and buyers. In his contract, farming is carried out keeping in view the conditions or production and sale of farming products. The farmer who takes the contract agrees to provide demanded yields of the crops. The quality standard and the time of delivery are provided by the purchaser and the products should match the quality standards. The buyer agrees to purchase these projects and helps the farmer in the preparation of the land, provision of technology, and supply of the cultivation inputs.
Contract farming has been around in India for some time, and there have been some scientific reports on its impact on household income. As a result of globalization, contract farming agreements are becoming more common in many rural areas of the developing world. Landowners or tenants enter into agreements with agribusiness marketing and/or processing corporations that determine the price, timeliness, quality, and quantity/area of the product being supplied. The working conditions of contract producer workers, especially women workers, are appalling, and child labor is on the rise.
Elements of Contract farming
- Predetermined price
- Predetermined quantity
- Predetermined quality.
Objectives of Contract farming
Some of the most important objectives of contract farming are given below. These objectives have brought a revolutionary change in the agricultural sector.
- Increase investment and market opportunities.
- Providing a stable source of income to the farmer.
- Ensuring product quality requirements and diversity in terms of size, shape, and color.
- Allowing modern technology and continuous supply.
- Reducing immigration from rural to urban areas while creating employment opportunities.
- The farmer benefits from price stability because the corporation cannot adjust the price of the commodity after harvest.
- It can also provide security for risk-sharing in case of any issue.
Women in contract farming:
Women take part in an important and vital role in the development of agriculture and other allied industries. The type and amount of women’s participation in agriculture vary a lot depending on location. Despite these differences, women are increasingly participating in a variety of agricultural occupations. Agriculture is becoming more ‘feminine’ as men leave the business faster than women and women are now the preferred type of labor for many companies. Although these new labor farms have resulted in a slight improvement in real wages for some female employees, they have also changed the relationship between employers and workers, between workers and work, and within workers. Wages for women are often lower than for males, working conditions are worse, and negotiating power is more constrained.
Child labor is a serious concern in contract farming in developing countries. India is a major consumer of child labor in the Asian region, where about 80% of child laborers work in agriculture. Most of these underage workers are women, who are loved by employers for their gentleness, conformity, and ‘skilled fingers’.
Agricultural activities of women in India:
Women in India are engaged in different activities according to their socio-economic status and the customs of that area. Mainly they work in three different ways:
- As laborers on wage.
- Women farmers do work on their own farms.
- They sometimes do labor supervision and manage the production of agricultural products, and participate in post-reaping activities.
They perform the following activities in agriculture and help the successful production of crops:
- Managing nursery
- patching, implanting
- Hand-picking the weeds
- Watering the crops
- Timely adding fertilizers to the crops
- Harvesting, storage, etc.
Challenges faced by women in agriculture:
- Women farmers face several gender-biased hurdles like
- not having access to lands,
- dealing in markets,
- financial problems,
- lack of agricultural training and education,
- bad working conditions,
- and unequal treatment.
These obstacles hinder the progress of women farmers and they are disadvantageous in the field of farming. Not having land rights is probably the biggest obstacle.
Helping women to have proper control of all the production levels will result in increased production of agricultural commodities. Gender-based obstacles should be completely abolished to help the small-scale female farmers grow. When men and women work together, the overall agricultural production of the country exponentially grows, ultimately helping to stabilize the economy.
The efforts to pave way for women farmers are gaining momentum throughout the world. According to an FAO report, eliminating gender-biased behaviors in the agricultural sector will not only empower women farmers but also help fight ever-increasing poverty. This report states that the developing countries are a hub of undernourished people, and women in these countries can play a significant role in increasing the food supply for these people. When females are given proper agricultural training and education, the food supply can increase by 30%, ergo eliminating hunger. Furthermore, financially stable female farmers will take better care of their family’s health, nutrition, and education which is a positive change for farming families.
How are women changing the agricultural field?
Women provide cheap labor as compared to men. Their participation in agriculture and allied activities significantly increase the production of agricultural products. It is reported that women farmers increase the agricultural output by 30%. They become self-employed and this enhances the chances of their being economically empowered.
Does gender affect farming in India?
The number of women workers is far greater in India than men farmers. Despite this fact, women are apud fewer wages than men. They are not given equal rights like possessing land, credit, and market access.
Why is feminism necessary in agricultural development?
Feminism is extremely important in the development of the agricultural sector. They are the backbone of Indian agriculture because of their large numbers and ability to tirelessly work on the farms. They are gentle, wise, humble, and can produce better agricultural results than men if they are given proper opportunities and equal rights to work in the fields.