Spreading the gift of knowledge among women farmers in Bihar, India
Kisan Sakhi, meaning “a woman farmer friend,” is an initiative jointly started by the Cereal Systems Initiative for South Asia (CSISA) and the Bihar Mahila Samakhya (Indian government program on women’s equality) that aims to disseminate new climate-resilient and sustainable farming technologies and practices to help empower women farmers in Bihar. Six areas have been identified – Bochaha, Bandra, Aurai, Gai Ghat, Musahri and Kudhni – in the district Muzaffarpur for the pilot work.
CSISA has introduced new technologies to more than 300 Kisan Sakhi members such as improved weed management, intercropping in maize, intensification of cropping systems with summer green gram, machine transplanting of rice under non-puddled conditions and management of community nurseries. CSISA also aims to support champion women farmer entrepreneurs, who could deliver custom hire services for community nurseries and machine transplanting.
Contrary to a common perception that women in agriculture are not empowered decision-makers, about 15 percent of the group members identified themselves as landowners and said that they are involved in decision making in terms of taking land on rent and carrying out farming operations to sustain their livelihoods.
At a recent visit with visiting teams from the U.S. Agency for International Development, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, representatives of Bihar state and members of the CSISA Bihar Hub, group members had the opportunity to talk about the challenges they faced in agriculture, their enthusiasm for new technologies, and the results they had seen from CSISA training. “Imparting knowledge and skill is more important than providing short-term monetary support from a project,” a group member said.
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