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  Social Responsibility

Women Empowerment
Published on: Feb. 13, 2020, 4:38 p.m.
Mahindra's Prerna project empowers Indian women in agriculture
  • Simpler means in agriculture

By Business India Editorial
T

he Mahindra group runs a programme called Prerna that aims to empower Indian women in agriculture. There are about 10 crore women farmers in India who are the leading force in agriculture today. They spend long hours doing tedious and back-breaking tasks in the fields, often with tools and equipment not suited for women. Underscoring the vision behind Prerna, Rajesh Jejurikar, President, Farm Equipment Division at Mahindra, observed, “There is a need to acknowledge women’s contribution in agriculture, and provide them with the necessary opportunities, training and equipment to help them become better farmers and improve their lives. Prerna is the result of this thinking and aspiration.”

Since October 2017, Prerna has been addressing these issues with the promotion of gender-neutral, efficient and ergonomic farm tools and equipment through interventions in more than 40 villages in Lamtaput, Koraput district and Jashipur, Mayurbhanj district of Odisha, positively impacting lives of over 2,000 women farmers. In November 2018, the initiative was expanded to 60 villages of three states – Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Karnataka and aimed to reach over 6,000 women farmers and empower 600 champion women farmers as change-makers in agriculture.

The Mahindra group partners with the Central Institution for Women in Agriculture (CIWA), a department of the Government of India’s Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) and the NGO Pradan (Professional Assistance for Development Action) for this. The project is implemented in partnership with BAIF Institute for Sustainable Livelihoods and Development. Based on the local context and needs, women-friendly technologies are disseminated by PRADAN to stakeholders through appropriate support, skill training and mechanisms for repair and maintenance along with ICAR and CIWA.

This project has introduced a variety of farm tools for women farmers, including seed treatment drum, dry land weeder, paddy marker, mandwa weeder, battery sprayer, improved sickle and manual paddy winnower. These have been useful in drudgery reduction of farm women. “Earlier it took two months to carry out weeding in our ginger plot of one-acre land,” says Chanchala Malik, a woman farmer. “However, this year after using a power weeder it took me hardly three hours in a seven days gap.”

Under Prerna, manufacturing plants and channel partners, along with group subsidiaries Swaraj Tractors and Swaraj Engines, carry out outreach programmes. Activities like knowledge sharing, acknowledging and recognising women’s contribution to agriculture on days like Mahila Kisan Diwas, Farmers day, Republic day are carried out. Training workshops on farm mechanisation and new farming techniques, SHG formation, educational tours to demo farms and kitchen gardening and tractor driving trainings are also carried out across the year at various locations. Vandana Sonawane from Manegao observed, “Prerna Project is a wonderful opportunity for learning. We have visited 2-3 places for the first time in our lives. By seeing other women, we feel we can also do it. We are inspired by seeing that women can work wonders in the field of agriculture.”


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