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Presented in the UGC National Seminar conducted by Annamalai University,Department of Economics,Chidambaram on 27th and 28th March 2014

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Challenges faced by_women_as_agricultural_labourers_towards_the_development_of__full__article

  1. 1. 1 CHALLENGES FACED BY WOMEN AS AGRICULTURAL LABOURERS TOWARDS THE DEVELOPMENT OF PUDUCHERRY ECONOMY---- A PURVIEW P.CHARLES CHRISTOPHER RAJ M.A., M.Phil. M.I.M., M.L.I.S.C., M.C.A., B.Ed. P.G.D.T.A. P.hd., ASSISTANTPROFESSOR of HISTORY DEPARTMENTOFHISTORICAL STUDIES KASTHURBA COLLEGEFOR WOME VILLIANUR, PUDUCHERRY 605 11 MOBILE: 944372332 Email Abstract Women of Puducherry contribute to the growth and development of Indian Economy in general and to Puducherry in particular. Women as productive worker fall in the ratio of 3:1 for one woman is at work for every three men. Women as agricultural labourers form a niche in developing the economy of Union Territory of Puducherry and their work participation rate levels to 35.2%. Though agricultural enterprises other than crop-production at times seem to have very limited potential, the programme of bio-village – incepted by the Pondicherry Administration in collaboration with M.S. Swaminathan Research Foundation covers 4000 hectares of land giving labour opportunity nearly to 25000 of women labourers work in the lands. Women are also involved in aquaculture, production of edible mushrooms, horticulture, vegetable production in backyard spaces, manufacture of vermin-compost, poultry production and goat rearing etc. Challenges faced by these women labourers are in numerous for lands which they work should be freely assigned to them, equal remuneration should be ensured, promiscuity of safety, prevention of occupation diseases, rampant corruption in food for work program, fodder scarcity leading to selling livestock, trafficking of women and children for sexual exploitation, and pauperization of farmers.. However, the extent of
  2. 2. 2 their participation depends upon a number of factors, where women‘s work is regarded as of supplementary nature and women enter the employment market only when economic conditions force them to do so. Hence, with all these aspects this paper tends to throw light upon the challenges and issues faced by the women of Puducherry while taking up the task of labourious work in agriculture and shouldering the responsibility of developing the Puducherry economy. Give a man a fish, he will eat for a day but teach him how to fish, he will eat for the rest of his life, so goes the popular saying, the case of our Indian farmers is similar to this, what they need is a means to sustain throughout their lives without having to face, the desperation that adversity drives them. If India has to shine, it is these women agricultural labourers are need to be empowered.
  3. 3. 3 CHALLENGES FACED BY WOMEN AS AGRICULTURAL LABOURERS TOWARDS THE DEVELOPMENT OF PUDUCHERRY ECONOMY---- A PURVIEW P.CHARLES CHRISTOPHER RAJ M.A., M.Phil. M.I.M., M.L.I.S.C., M.C.A., B.Ed. P.G.D.T.A. P.hd., ASSISTANTPROFESSOR of HISTORY DEPARTMENTOFHISTORICAL STUDIES KASTHURBA COLLEGEFOR WOME VILLIANUR, PUDUCHERRY 605 11 MOBILE: 944372332 Email Introduction Puducherry which was a small fishing village unknown to the world was created as the window of the French Culture by the advent of the French1 . Pondicherry, the very word seems to be the correction of Pudicherry2 which means a new hamlet. The Union Territory of Puducherry constituted out of the four French establishments of Pondicherry, Karaikal, Mahe and Yanam has the epoch of history of three hundred and fifty years3 . Puducherry embedded between Cuddalore and Villupuram districts of Tamil Nadu and Karaikal in Nagapattinam district of Tamil Nadu, Mahe between Kozhikodu and Kannur districts of Kerala and Yanam within the East Godavari district of Andhra Pradesh. While Puducherry, Karaikal and Yanam lie on the east coast of India, Mahe lies on the West coast. The French Government transferred the four enclaves to the Indian Union under the defacto treaty on 1st November, 1954 but the ratification of the treaty of Cessation was delayed and ultimately the territory was merged on 16th August, 19624 . Agriculture Agriculture is the major occupation. Among various main workers, those engaged in agriculture occupations and ‗other than household industry‘ (mainly industrial workers)accounted for 36.31% and 14.94% respectively. Agriculture contributes less than 10% of GSDP, which varies between 4 to 8 percent for the last 20 years. Puducherry is one of the densely populated regions covering (2029 per of India (324 per Around 50 % of the people live in rural area depending on agriculture.
  4. 4. 4 Cropping intensity is about 178 per cent as against 133 per cent at all India level and is next only to Punjab (180 percent). There is no natural reserve forest and the territory is fully developed for human habitation5 . A table will enable to understand the development of Women Agricultural Labourers of Puducherry. **Labour Status of Union Territory Puducherry( Denoting Women workers) Puducherry 1991 Census 2001 Census Persons Male Female Persons Male Female Main Workers(%) 32.4 50.1 14.3 32.57 50.35 14.30 Marginal Workers(%) 0.7 0.4 0.9 2.60 2.77 2.43 Population 8,07,785 4,08,081 3,99,704 9,74,345 48696 4 ,87,384 Total Agricultural Workers 95,162 59,546 Percentage of Agricultural Workers 36.35 17,39 The above table shows the status of women workers in 1991 and 2001 where there is a decrease in total agricultural workers from 95,162 to 59,546 enables that challenges were faced by the workers in the occupation made them quit and seek non-agrarian employment in the territory. *** Land Use Pattern (in hectares) The total geographical area of the state is 48,651 (ha)during 2003-04, of which area under forest is nil. The indicators of land use show the negative progress of growth in agriculture. Land used for non-agricultural purposes fallow land and uncultivable waste are increasing. During the last 20 years, area put to non-agricultural use increased Land Use Pattern 1980-81 1990-91 2000- 01 2003- 04Total Geographical Area (ha) 46822 48581 48842 48651 Forest - - - - Barren and Uncultivable Land 82 80 113 70 Land put to Non- Agricultural Uses (ha) 11211 14057 15498 17125 Permanent Pasture and Grazing Lands (ha) 73 59 18 - Land under Miscellaneous Tree Crops and Groves (ha ) 2379 369 821 1097 Cultivable Waste land(ha) 1418 1815 4089 3996 Current Fallows (ha) 1399 3004 950 3356 Net Area Sown (ha) 29908 27294 24329 20647 Area Sown more than once (ha) 2 4 0 7 3 16444 18948 16736 Gross Cropped Area (ha) 53981 43738 43277 37383 Cropping Intensity (%) 180.49 160.25 177.88 181.0 Gross Irrigated Area(ha 42005 33527 34146 31436 Gross Irrigated Area to Gross Cropped Area(%) 77.8 76.6 78.9 84.0
  5. 5. 5 from 11,211 ha in 1980-81 to 17,125 ha to 2003-04 and other fallow land from 352 ha in 1980-81 to 2360 ha in 2003-04. Area under permanent pastures and grazing land and miscellaneous trees and groves has come down during the last 20 years. It indirectly indicates the reduction in the common property resources. But area under cultivable waste increased from 1418 ha in 1980-81 to 3996 ha in 2003-04 and started to decline during the last three years. The net area sown had also decreased from 29,908 ha in 1980- 81 to 20,647 ha in 2003-04. Area sown more than once had also decreased from 24,073 ha to 16,736 ha during the corresponding period. Similarly gross cropped area and area under irrigation also showed a decreasing trend. It was 53,981 ha in 1980-81 and 37,383 ha in 2003- 2004. Cropping intensity was fluctuating around 160-180 per cent. However percentage of gross area irrigated to the gross cultivated area increased from 77.8 to 84, which indicates the intensive use of groundwater for cultivation. Challenges faced by the women labourers Agriculture in India is not merely an independent economic activity; it is rather intertwined with social and cultural activities. It remains an important sphere of Indian society and is often perceived as ―a way of life‖. The late Prime Minister of India, Shri Lal Bahadur Shastri, coined the famous slogan ―Jai Jawan, Jai Kisan‖. Through this he recognized the importance of agriculture in general and farmers in particular in the process of nation-building. In this era of globalization, the face of Indian agriculture had undergone a sea change. The farmers are now confronting the challenges of the changing times and provided opportunities they are ready to move away from agriculture. The National Agricultural Policy of the Ministry of Agricultural, Government of India (2000) says, Agriculture has become a relatively unrewarding profession due to a generally unfavorable price regime and low value addition, causing abandoning of farming and increasing migration from rural areas. The situation is likely to be exacerbated further in the wake of integration of agricultural trade in the global system, unless immediate corrective measures are taken.
  6. 6. 6  Women Labourers commit suicide Repeated crop failures, seem to create a situation that forces women to commit suicide. The main source of data on farmers‘ suicides is the annual reports on accidental and suicidal deaths published by National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) of the Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India. The reports consist of a range of tables; one of them is on the distribution of suicides by profession that includes a category for self- employed persons in farming/agriculture. An all India-wise consistent and complete data on farmers‘ suicide or suicide by persons employed in farming/agriculture is available for ten years from 1997 to 2006.  Irrigation failure Irrigation, a critical infrastructure for agriculture in the state, had also suffered. A decline in public surface irrigation (canal and tanks) resulted in the emergence of private groundwater as the single largest source with all the attendant ecological problems. Delayed rainfall, prolonged dry spells, subsequent crop failures have forced many farmers to kill themselves.  Farm indebtedness The average farm debt, now exceeds a lakh of rupess to a farmer, out of which more than 40% is provided by non-institutional sources at an interest of nearly 24% per annum. They had to sell away their produce and even the lands to the money lenders at low prices and had to purchase nearly all their requirements at the same man‘s shop at higher prices. Although the money might have been borrowed only a few months before the settlements of the annual accounts, a full year‘s interest was charged on a loan. Women labourers find it very difficult to feed the hungry mouths at home.
  7. 7. 7  Conversion of land as residential plots After 2000, the land area in Puducherry been converted to residential plots for the inhabitants are more interested to sell their lands to migrates from Chennai and Neyveli to construct skyscraper and to bring in pucca roads to their village. Nearly 18% of land are converted to residential plots and new agents have crept in for the sale of land in sq. feets like 1200 sq. ft, 2400 sq. ft a plot at a huge price. This is an aggressive problem faced by the labourers at present in the agricultural scenario of Puducherry.  No legal right to property Ownership of property facilitates raising of resources including for undertaking economic activities and employment. Women should, therefore, be given rights equal with men in inheritance of property. Puducherry women have no rights to acquire ancestral property for the tradition acts as hindrances and the parents insist on recognizing the men as the heir for their property. These cause the women to be a bonded human as the male dominate the society.  Women in old age Women in old age, are not given employment as labourers or social security, do not most often have any other resources of their own. Negligence of senior citizens is particularly harsh on women. Monetary assistance are not there and nobody employs them for their agricultural needs.  Societal problems and atrocities against women labourers There is high level of alcoholism in the Union Territory. This also has implications for violence against women. Men given to alcoholism tend to get violent against their spouses and also tend to become lax in morals. This leads to disruption of
  8. 8. 8 families. This kind of experience is rampant, especially in low-income families. Even women have the tendency to consume alcohol due to burdensome of the work. Excessive work time paves the way for youth to indulge in atrocities against the women labourers. Women farmers and labour particularly need to be assisted with implements and equipments which will help to reduce drudgery and the numbers of hours of work , while adding economic value to each hours of work. Women also suffer from a multiple burden on their time due to homemaking and keeping, child rearing and income earning responsibilities. They need adequate nutrition and energy to work long in the fields. The feminization of agriculture, due to male out-migration, needs attention with reference to gender – sensitive farm and credit policies. Good quality seeds at affordable prices are in short supply and spurious pesticides and biofertilisers are being sold in the absence of effective quality control systems for which the women farmers find difficult in farming as well as micronutrient deficiencies in the soil as well as problems relation to soil physics are becoming burdensome to the women labourers and make them to find their employment in land much difficult which results in poverty. The poverty head count in the Union Territory of Puducherry is less than the national figure. With 21.67% of the population living below poverty line, the State is close to Tamil Nadu. However, the poverty ratio of the UT is far higher than of Andhra Pradesh and Kerala. In all the States under comparison, urban poverty is higher than rural poverty. There has been a drastic reduction in rural and urban poverty in Puducherry during the 25-year period from 1973-74 to 1999-2000 as in the rest of India.  High rates of Child labour: High rates of child labour in agriculture are attributed to high rates of poverty, seasonality of agricultural production with sharp peaks in labour demand, lack of schools, prevalence of piece-rate payments, and weak labour laws. These conditions encourage the use of child labour to meet the household‘s basic needs. Some types of work can
  9. 9. 9 hinder children‘s well-being, development and their future livelihoods. Child labour often undermines the bargaining power of women for higher wages.  Exclusion Agricultural women workers are often excluded from decision-making processes as they are not always recognized as a distinct group with specific needs and interests, and they are not organized. Agricultural women workers must participate in the decision- making processes that affect their lives to achieve positive outcomes for their well-being and maximize their potential to contribute to Union Territory Economy.  Denial of basic human rights Political opposition, the dispersion of the work force and high rates of informal and casual/temporary employment all limit the organization of agricultural women labourers in trade unions. Agricultural labourers are thus often denied the basic human right to freedom of association, i.e. workers‘ rights to organize themselves and collectively bargain with employers. The restrictions on trade unions within agriculture also limit the contribution that these organizations can make to sustainable development through industrial change processes, educating and training workers and protecting working environments.  Poor health, safety and environmental conditions Puducherry economy faces a fatal problem because of women agricultural workers suffer high rates of death, injury and illness. This is due to high levels of workplace risk (e.g. machinery and pesticide use); long working hours; limited safety measures, poor public health services and limited health and safety training in rural areas; high rates of HIV/AIDS; and poor living conditions. Fatalities, injuries and disease all diminish the well-being, assets (labour) and household livelihood security of agricultural workers and overall agricultural productivity.
  10. 10. 10 Conclusion The Union Territory of Puducherry has constituted a women‘s commission to address some of the social evils that prevail due to the gendered hierarchical social system. The Commission conducts awareness campaigns on women‘s rights and against domestic violence. It also conducts meetings and interactive sessions with women in rural and urban areas on AIDS control, reproductive health, dowry, women illiteracy and female child abuse etc. The Commission also organises counselling programmes for the victims and extends legal support to overcome the problem. Corrective steps need to be taken to improve the women labourers to receive credit –deposit ratio significantly, in consultation with all stakeholders—industry, agriculture, service sector and scheduled banks. Active joint campaign and support by the government and scheduled banks for setting up of SMEs and SSSBEs would not only improve credit-deposit ratio but also provide significant employment opportunities to women. With dwindling agriculture sector base, all out emphasis on tiny sector and microfinance/SHGs would boost the rural economy. Government of Puducherry is implementing a centrally sponsored programme for ‗Children in need of Care and Protection‘ for the children in distress through voluntary organisations to address the issues related to the disabled and the most vulnerable persons where there is no job for the women to take care of their children. This programme aims to take care of the destitute, neglected, abandoned, and vulnerable children who are exposed to various kinds of abuse and exploitation. Around 20 homes/orphanages are functioning in the state and are getting the financial support of Rs.250 per month per child. The fund is disbursed to the concerned organisations in two equal installments. The total grant released per year is Rs.27.17 lakh. Government of Puducherry has introduced a number of schemes aimed at poverty alleviation and to provide employment opportunities to the rural people, especially
  11. 11. 11 agricultural labourers in the lean season. Some of the major programmes with credit linkage being implemented in the Union Territory of Puducherry are: • Swarnajayanti Gram Swarozgar Yojana (SGSY) • Prime Minister Rozgar Yojana (PMRY) • Swarna Jayanti Shaharia Rozgar Yojana (SJSRY) • Puducherry Adi-Dravidar Development Corporation for SC/ST (PADCO) • Fish Farmers‘ Development Programme (FFDP) • Women Development Programme • KVIC-Margin Money scheme, etc. Agricultural Extension Department is functioning with the aim of making available all the agricultural inputs, and high efficiency technologies required for scientific farming. It aims to provide all the technical needs to protect soil and crop health in order to increase the productivity. Apart from the traditional extension system, the state has taken efforts to use the developments in modern ICT sector for better delivery and provide need-based contents through Uzhavar Udaviyagam (Farmers‘ help centre). The wage rate has increased steadily over the years. The increase is higher for ploughmen as compared to all other workers. Number of manually operated seed cum fertilizer drills, sprayers and dusters had increased over the period of time. Manual drawn levelers increased from 77 to 1203. The implements that give employment opportunities like wooden plough, wetland puddler and animal cart have decreased. This indicates that reduced manpower involvement in production, especially in rural areas, where majority of the population depends on agriculture for their livelihood. Power operated sprayers increased over the years which indicate the wide use of pesticides. Moreover, all power operated implements like power tillers, agricultural tractors, mould board ploughs, disc harrows, levelers, trailers and power-operated thresher increased. Increase in number of implements showed the degree of mechanisation. On an average there was one tractor
  12. 12. 12 for every 70 ha of gross cultivated area, which is higher than the all India average of 66 ha. Considering the decrease in the labour force, it is essential to improve the appropriate farm tools and machineries. Care should be taken to ensure that the proposed interventions address the need of small and marginal farmer, without eliminating the opportunities available for the agricultural labour force. The role and the involvement of women in agriculture are increasing. Hence it is essential to give special focus to women. Similar to the project on Tamil Nadu Women in Agriculture (TANWA) it is essential to give special emphasis to mobilise women and make them technically empowered. Given the predominant mono-cropping situation, it is necessary to promote crop diversification to conserve water and maintain soil fertility. Considering the geographic location horticultural crops, especially vegetable and flower cultivation could be promoted. Area under wasteland is expanding every year and so wasteland development programme could be introduced for the benefit of the rural poor. Inland crab and aquaculture rice-fish farming can be promoted to give additional income to the farmers. There is scope for production in this area as the Union Territory is endowed with good water resources. Uzavar Sandhai is an upcoming marketing strategy for the benefit of small and marginal farmers. In order to strengthen it, it is necessary to improve infrastructure facilities to enable the farmers to reach the market. Even though the number of transport vehicles for agriculture has increased, farmers are forced to pay more to transport their produce to the market. For each commune/village, separate vehicle facilities should be provided to collect the produce from the fields and transport to the market at affordable cost. Apart from providing market facilities it is essential to fix and implement the Minimum Support Price for all the products throughout the year. Considering the greater percentage of small and marginal farmers, new approaches like group farming could be promoted with appropriate backward and forward linkages. Finally it is essential to create awareness on the agricultural issues related to WTO and globalisation such as quality literacy and trade literacy to the existing state extension systems.
  13. 13. 13 References 1. Ravindran.V.Pudhuvaiyin Pazhamai,Chennai,2013,pp.22-30 2. Cyril Antony Francis,(ed.)Gazetteer of India, Union Territory of Pondicherry,Vol-I, Pondicherry,1982. 3. Ravindran.V.op.cit., pp. 251-256. 4. Cyril Antony Francis,op.cit.,pp.164-165 5. Pondicherry Planning Commission Report, Academic Commission, New Delhi,2010,pp-117- 132. ** Table used from the Directorate of Economics and Statistics, Puducherry *** Ibid. 6. Akinumi, Adesima. A and Kouakou, K. Djato(1997)Relative Efficiency of Women as farmer manager, Agricultural Economics,Vol.16.No.1. 7. Ravi Prakash Yadav, Women Workers in India, New Delhi,2012 8. Beteille Andre, Agrarian relations in Tanjore District, South India, Sociological Bulletin 21(2):122-51,1972. 9. Finance Department, Fifth Five Year Plan Approach Paper, Government of Pondicherry,1974. 10. Swaminathan, M.S., From Green to Evergreen Revolution, Agriculture: Performance and Emerging Challengs, New Delhi,2006. 11. Felix Raj, Contemporary Development Economics from Adam Smith to Amartya Sen,Kolkata,2006. 12.Sarala Gopalan, A Situation Analysis of Women and Girls in Pondicherry, National Commission for Women, New Delhi,2005. 13.Ramadoss.M,Economic Development of Pondicherry,Pondicherry,1998. 14.Susheela Subrahmanya, Srinivasa Gowda. M.V., ed., Regional Economic Development in India: Problems, Imbalances & Disparities….,New Delhi,1995. 15. Gupta, A. K. (ed.), Women and Society - The Development Perspective. New Delhi: Criterion Publications, 1993. 16. Jain, D. (ed.), Indian Women. New Delhi: Publication Division, 1975. 17. Singh, S., Contract Farming in India: Impacts on Women and Child Workers, International Institute for Environment and Development, No. 111,London,2003. 18. Government of India. 2006. Employment and Unemployment Situation in India 2004-05, part I and II. Report No. 515 (61/10/01). National Sample Survey Organisation, Ministry of Statistics & Programme Implementation, Government of India. 19. Chakrovarti, Shanti, "Farm Women Labour: Waste and Exploitation." The Journal of Social Change, vol. 5, Nos. 1 and 2, 1975. 20. Raj, K. N., Organisational Issues in Indian Agriculture. New Delhi, 1990. 21. Mitra, Asok et. al., The status of Women, Shifts in Occupational participation, 1961-1971; An ICSSR Study. New Delhi, 1980. 22. Reddy, N. G., "Women's Role in Economy and Society." Mainstream, Vol. 24, Nos. 9 and 10, 1985. 23. Moorthy, M. V., "Problems and Welfare of Our Women Workers." Indian Journal of Social Welfare, Vol. 6, No. 2, 1945.