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Gender Issues in the Introduction of Mechanical Weeding 
with the System of Rice Intensification (SRI): 
Insights from Village Studies in Odisha, India 
(P525) 
Do gender and labouring bodies matter? 
'Rice grows on women's backs' as women contribute 30 to 80% of the labour to grow rice. Women perform two crucial on-field tasks like transplanting and 
weeding in wet conditions for long hours in bending positions besides non-negotiable household and other responsibilities. Despite crucial contribution of 
women, discussions on labour in rice-growing have largely bypassed issues like gender and the impact of technologies on labouring bodies. We are drawing 
attention to these important dimensions taking the case of weeding in SRI. 
As an agro-ecological innovation, SRI recommends planting of young and single seedling, widely spaced, in non-inundated field condition. Besides aeration and 
incorporation of weeds in soil, frequent mechanical weeding to control potentially increased weed infestation impacts labouring bodies and leads to diverse 
gender ramifications. 
We explored 
- How introduction of weeders and weeding schedules with SRI practice affect gender-wise work participation and labourer's bodies across geographies? 
- How bodily experiences shape weeding tools and schedules? 
How we learnt 
Three villages were selected for study (in 2011-12 wet season) in costal Ganjam, hilly Kandhamal and 
mountainous Koraput districts in Odisha, India with diverse social and agro-ecological characteristics, rice-growing 
practices, and SRI histories. Twenty farm households practicing SRI were randomly selected from 
Odisha 
India 
each village for intensive study (n=60, cultivated rice in 545 plots). Tools like Focus Group Discussions, 
individual interviews, story-telling, participant observation, Rapid Comparative Pain Assessment, some 
ergonomic measurements and other work-related measurements were employed for data collection. 
What we found 
- Both men and women were found participating in mechanical weeding though manual weeding continued to be women's job as before. 
120 
100 
80 
60 
40 
20 
0 
Figure 1: Percent of men and women engaged 
in all weedings across villages 
Men Women Men Women Men Women 
s 
e r 
labo u r 
o f 
cen t 
P e r 
Gender and village 
Mechnical 
Manual 
n= 645 labourers engaged in weeding 
Source: Field observation and individual interviews, 2012 
SUNDARGARH 
DEOGARH 
ANGUL 
BALASORE 
MAYURBHANJ 
KEONJHAR 
BHADRAK 
KENDRAPARA 
DHENKANAL 
JHARSUGUDA 
SAMBALPUR 
BARGARH 
SONEPUR 
BOLANGIR 
NUAPARA 
KALAHANDI 
NABARANGPUR 
MALKANGIRI 
RAYAGADA 
BOUDH 
KANDHAMAL 
GAJAPATI 
GANJAM 
NAYAGARH 
CUTTACK 
KHURDHA 
PURI 
JAJPUR 
JAGATSINGHPUR 
KORAPUT 
Research Sites 
Odisha 
- Degree of participation of men and women in mechanical weeding and pursuit of weeding schedules are dynamic and found to be different in 2011 and 12. 
Following factors shape gender-wise participation in mechanical weeding. 
· Environmental dynamics: Weed type and growth, water regime, soil type 
· Household and social dynamics: Negotiation among household members, customary gender roles in weeding, institutional membership, livelihood 
strategy of men and women 
· Extension dynamics: Availability, adequacy, accessibility, ownership and management of weeders, clientele of trainings, clientele of incentives 
· Engineering dynamics: Design of weeders and ergonomics 
- Changing gender roles however, could not : 
· Influence deep-rooted gender-specific wage asymmetries although both do equal work and 
· Ensure men's participation in manual weeding during transitional period. 
- Not only users, women's groups emerged as managers of common resources like weeders where they are involved in decision making, training, 
management of weeders. 
- Reduction in work time, change in posture and participation of men reduced drudgery of women, but increased men's drudgery. 
Physical Experiences (Energy Use) of Women Using 
Mechanical Weeders 
Variables 
• Manual handling of materials differ and is less – 
handling weeder, not grasses in mechanical weeding, no 
change in manual weeding 
• Work time per unit of land is less, speed is more 
(16-25 hrs / ac), (30-50 mtrs x 18-20 cms/ minute) - in SRI 
at one time 
(Up to 150 hrs / ac), (1 sq mtr max / minute)- in conv. 
• Work environment is better and time remaining in that 
environment is less 
• Some men participate in weeding 
• Posture changes with use of weeder (model -specific) 
Gender-wise Cross-technology Pain Experience of 
Particulars Gender, 
Sample size , gender 15 , Women 
Method of sample selection Random 
Period of test August 2013 
Range of age 18-40 
Range of weight 38-72 
Range of height 4.8 -5.5 
Type of tool Mandva weeder 
Type of measuring instrument 
Oxymeter 
used 
No. of reading taken (per person 
at a gap of 3 mnts) 
4 
Findings Manual 
weeding 
Mechanical weeding 
Range of SpO2 (Oxygen Saturation Level) 93 - 99 92-100 
Average SpO2 96 96 
Range of Prbpm (Pulse rate per minute ) 75-160 76-184 
Average PRbpm 117.5 130 
Method of 
cultivation 
Labourers Engaged in Weeding 
Conventional SRI 
Men 
Manual No participation- no 
pain 
Normally No participation- No 
pain, Sometimes when 
participate get pain in back, legs, 
knees 
Use of 
weeder 
Not used - no pain Back, Shoulders, Hand, Palm 
New – injury by weeders 
Women 
Manual Knee, Thighs, Back 
Shoulder , 
Feet, Area under 
bangles, Area between 
fingers of hands and 
legs, Abrasion in skin 
- Severe 
Knee, Thighs, Back, Shoulder, 
Feet, Abrasion in skin - Less 
(Weeder use reduced amount of 
work) 
Use of 
weeder 
Not used - no pain Shoulder, Chest, Hands, Legs, 
Back 
New – injury by weeders 
BUT 
Recommendations could not be followed by all farmers 
due to various reasons 
Hence gender-wise bodily (physical) experiences vary 
4 
- However, Work –rest rhythms, postures, work environment, span of work time differ which have synergetic impact on body than short period energy use 
expressed in SpO2 and PRbpm . 
- Introduction of specific models of weeders (like Mandva model that solves the purpose and cause less pain to users) enabled both genders to undertake 
mechanical weeding, mainly in family farms. 
DIFFERENT WEEDER MODELS FOUND IN VILLAGES MANDVA WEEDER CONO WEEDER 
- Bodily experiences play a determining role in use/rejection/acceptance of models of weeders. (Cono model rejected causing more pain to users' bodies, 
but Mandva model was accepted) 
To wrap up 
Gender-wise work participation and bodies are affected differently by agricultural technologies in their social-material context which affect technologies in turn. 
The study suggests for: 
- integrating gender and physical issues with interdisciplinary approach in agricultural technology evaluation, 
- involving men and women in choice, design/ development and application of gender-sensitive technologies, 
- steering innovative extension and scaling-up strategies, incentive structures for better organisation of labour to use the benefits of technology like SRI. 
Acknowledgement: 
We are thankful to Dutch Organisation for Global Development Programme (NWO -WOTRO), Netherlands for financial support for the study (Grant no. W 
01.65.328.00, 2010-2014) and all others who supported our effort during the journey. 
Please visit our team’s work: 
Oral Presentation:(IRC14-0694, C03-2, Wednesday 14:30, Room GH 203), Oral Presentation: (IRC14-0668 C06-1, Friday 11:10, Room MR 222) 
Posters: P582/ IRC14-0614, P564/ IRC14-1041 
1.Sabarmatee, PhD student, Knowledge, Technology and Innovation Group, Wageningen University, The Netherlands; E Mail: sabarmatee@gmail.com 
C. Shambu Prasad, Professor, Rural Management and Development, Xavier Institute of Management, Bhubaneswar -751013, Odisha, India; E Mail: shambu@ximb.ac.in

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1439 - Gender Issues in Mechancial Weeding with SRI: Insights from Odisha, India

  • 1. Gender Issues in the Introduction of Mechanical Weeding with the System of Rice Intensification (SRI): Insights from Village Studies in Odisha, India (P525) Do gender and labouring bodies matter? 'Rice grows on women's backs' as women contribute 30 to 80% of the labour to grow rice. Women perform two crucial on-field tasks like transplanting and weeding in wet conditions for long hours in bending positions besides non-negotiable household and other responsibilities. Despite crucial contribution of women, discussions on labour in rice-growing have largely bypassed issues like gender and the impact of technologies on labouring bodies. We are drawing attention to these important dimensions taking the case of weeding in SRI. As an agro-ecological innovation, SRI recommends planting of young and single seedling, widely spaced, in non-inundated field condition. Besides aeration and incorporation of weeds in soil, frequent mechanical weeding to control potentially increased weed infestation impacts labouring bodies and leads to diverse gender ramifications. We explored - How introduction of weeders and weeding schedules with SRI practice affect gender-wise work participation and labourer's bodies across geographies? - How bodily experiences shape weeding tools and schedules? How we learnt Three villages were selected for study (in 2011-12 wet season) in costal Ganjam, hilly Kandhamal and mountainous Koraput districts in Odisha, India with diverse social and agro-ecological characteristics, rice-growing practices, and SRI histories. Twenty farm households practicing SRI were randomly selected from Odisha India each village for intensive study (n=60, cultivated rice in 545 plots). Tools like Focus Group Discussions, individual interviews, story-telling, participant observation, Rapid Comparative Pain Assessment, some ergonomic measurements and other work-related measurements were employed for data collection. What we found - Both men and women were found participating in mechanical weeding though manual weeding continued to be women's job as before. 120 100 80 60 40 20 0 Figure 1: Percent of men and women engaged in all weedings across villages Men Women Men Women Men Women s e r labo u r o f cen t P e r Gender and village Mechnical Manual n= 645 labourers engaged in weeding Source: Field observation and individual interviews, 2012 SUNDARGARH DEOGARH ANGUL BALASORE MAYURBHANJ KEONJHAR BHADRAK KENDRAPARA DHENKANAL JHARSUGUDA SAMBALPUR BARGARH SONEPUR BOLANGIR NUAPARA KALAHANDI NABARANGPUR MALKANGIRI RAYAGADA BOUDH KANDHAMAL GAJAPATI GANJAM NAYAGARH CUTTACK KHURDHA PURI JAJPUR JAGATSINGHPUR KORAPUT Research Sites Odisha - Degree of participation of men and women in mechanical weeding and pursuit of weeding schedules are dynamic and found to be different in 2011 and 12. Following factors shape gender-wise participation in mechanical weeding. · Environmental dynamics: Weed type and growth, water regime, soil type · Household and social dynamics: Negotiation among household members, customary gender roles in weeding, institutional membership, livelihood strategy of men and women · Extension dynamics: Availability, adequacy, accessibility, ownership and management of weeders, clientele of trainings, clientele of incentives · Engineering dynamics: Design of weeders and ergonomics - Changing gender roles however, could not : · Influence deep-rooted gender-specific wage asymmetries although both do equal work and · Ensure men's participation in manual weeding during transitional period. - Not only users, women's groups emerged as managers of common resources like weeders where they are involved in decision making, training, management of weeders. - Reduction in work time, change in posture and participation of men reduced drudgery of women, but increased men's drudgery. Physical Experiences (Energy Use) of Women Using Mechanical Weeders Variables • Manual handling of materials differ and is less – handling weeder, not grasses in mechanical weeding, no change in manual weeding • Work time per unit of land is less, speed is more (16-25 hrs / ac), (30-50 mtrs x 18-20 cms/ minute) - in SRI at one time (Up to 150 hrs / ac), (1 sq mtr max / minute)- in conv. • Work environment is better and time remaining in that environment is less • Some men participate in weeding • Posture changes with use of weeder (model -specific) Gender-wise Cross-technology Pain Experience of Particulars Gender, Sample size , gender 15 , Women Method of sample selection Random Period of test August 2013 Range of age 18-40 Range of weight 38-72 Range of height 4.8 -5.5 Type of tool Mandva weeder Type of measuring instrument Oxymeter used No. of reading taken (per person at a gap of 3 mnts) 4 Findings Manual weeding Mechanical weeding Range of SpO2 (Oxygen Saturation Level) 93 - 99 92-100 Average SpO2 96 96 Range of Prbpm (Pulse rate per minute ) 75-160 76-184 Average PRbpm 117.5 130 Method of cultivation Labourers Engaged in Weeding Conventional SRI Men Manual No participation- no pain Normally No participation- No pain, Sometimes when participate get pain in back, legs, knees Use of weeder Not used - no pain Back, Shoulders, Hand, Palm New – injury by weeders Women Manual Knee, Thighs, Back Shoulder , Feet, Area under bangles, Area between fingers of hands and legs, Abrasion in skin - Severe Knee, Thighs, Back, Shoulder, Feet, Abrasion in skin - Less (Weeder use reduced amount of work) Use of weeder Not used - no pain Shoulder, Chest, Hands, Legs, Back New – injury by weeders BUT Recommendations could not be followed by all farmers due to various reasons Hence gender-wise bodily (physical) experiences vary 4 - However, Work –rest rhythms, postures, work environment, span of work time differ which have synergetic impact on body than short period energy use expressed in SpO2 and PRbpm . - Introduction of specific models of weeders (like Mandva model that solves the purpose and cause less pain to users) enabled both genders to undertake mechanical weeding, mainly in family farms. DIFFERENT WEEDER MODELS FOUND IN VILLAGES MANDVA WEEDER CONO WEEDER - Bodily experiences play a determining role in use/rejection/acceptance of models of weeders. (Cono model rejected causing more pain to users' bodies, but Mandva model was accepted) To wrap up Gender-wise work participation and bodies are affected differently by agricultural technologies in their social-material context which affect technologies in turn. The study suggests for: - integrating gender and physical issues with interdisciplinary approach in agricultural technology evaluation, - involving men and women in choice, design/ development and application of gender-sensitive technologies, - steering innovative extension and scaling-up strategies, incentive structures for better organisation of labour to use the benefits of technology like SRI. Acknowledgement: We are thankful to Dutch Organisation for Global Development Programme (NWO -WOTRO), Netherlands for financial support for the study (Grant no. W 01.65.328.00, 2010-2014) and all others who supported our effort during the journey. Please visit our team’s work: Oral Presentation:(IRC14-0694, C03-2, Wednesday 14:30, Room GH 203), Oral Presentation: (IRC14-0668 C06-1, Friday 11:10, Room MR 222) Posters: P582/ IRC14-0614, P564/ IRC14-1041 1.Sabarmatee, PhD student, Knowledge, Technology and Innovation Group, Wageningen University, The Netherlands; E Mail: sabarmatee@gmail.com C. Shambu Prasad, Professor, Rural Management and Development, Xavier Institute of Management, Bhubaneswar -751013, Odisha, India; E Mail: shambu@ximb.ac.in