Women’s groups lead agricultural innovations in Odisha

Post date: Aug 2, 2018 6:50:07 AM

by Deepti Saksena and Manzoor Dar

Photo by IRRI-India

Odisha, India—Women Self-Help Groups (SHGs) in Odisha are being tapped to lead agricultural innovations, including varietal selection and the adoption of climate-smart rice.

Women farmers are often less productive than men because they have limited access to technology and information. However, they have an enormous potential to make significant contributions to improving agricultural productivity and reducing hunger and malnutrition with proper training. In fact, SHGs can be change agents by creating awareness, disseminating knowledge and seeds of new varieties, and by participating in the decision making on technology use.

Through the Evidence Hubs, the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) is utilizing women SHGs to empower their members through the provision of knowledge, skills and capacity building, self-motivation, and learning that can lead to achieving desirable adoption levels of climate-resilient rice varieties. Evidence Hubs facilitate the process of varietal selection of preferred rice varieties in the region by engaging the different stakeholders of the seed value chain in evaluating available as well as unreleased rice varieties.

In 2017, 894 women farmers participated in IRRI’s evaluation of new and old rice varieties under an Odisha project. These participatory trials are proving to be important in the adoption of new varieties among women groups. In addition, 1,166 women farmers are planting the new varieties in demonstration plots to accelerate varietal adoption and replacement.

In Gananathpur Village in Kalahandi District, the Maa Thakurani SHG, 17 members of the SHG evaluated 19 rice varieties on a demonstration field monitored by IRRI and the State Department of Agriculture. The group selected the best varieties and exhibited their potential to become viable enterprises. The Swarna Laxmi SHG in Deogarh District has taken 0.2 hectares as a demonstration site of for 16 new rice varieties.

IRRI also provide training for building the capacity of SHGs on quality seed production and storage practices. The production of quality rice seeds will help increase their annual income as these command higher prices than grains. (Click here for full story)