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Empowering women farmers through agricultural mechanisation

Our collaboration with the UN Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) speaks to the increasing feminisation of farming and the drudgery of agricultural production in the mountains

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As men migrate to seek alternative livelihoods, women have been compelled to take on tasks formerly done by men, such as land preparation, harvest, post-harvest operations and marketing of produce, adding to their burden of household and off-farm work. This increasing feminisation of mountain agriculture has emerged as a pressing issue in recent decades. A range of new and inexpensive agriculture machinery, adapted to local conditions, could potentially enhance labour productivity, reduce drudgery, and enable women to gain new skills and knowledge that can transform rural gender relations and reduce inequalities.

We are committed to scaling out gender responsive and mountain specific resilient solutions and through our Resilient Mountain Solutions (RMS) Initiative and with our partners, we actively promote gender and social inclusion approach. In 2021, we organised a series of webinars on ‘Women farmers and sustainable mechanisation: Improving lives and livelihoods in the Hindu Kush Himalaya’ along with FAO to focus attention on the agricultural mechanisation needs of women farmers in the HKH.

Sustainable agricultural mechanisation in the HKH must be tailored to the diversity of mountain contexts and user needs, especially of women. The webinar series was aimed at generating awareness and action around mechanisation gaps and identifying good practices and solutions for empowering women farmers and promoting women entrepreneurship as mechanisation service providers. Participants in the Nepal episode called for greater investments in research to understand challenges and gaps. As a follow up to the Bhutan episode of the webinar series, we are exploring the possibility of a small pilot with the Agriculture Mechanization Center and Farm Machinery Corporation Limited in Haa district, Bhutan.

A range of new and inexpensive agriculture machinery, adapted to local conditions, could potentially enhance labour productivity, reduce drudgery, and transform rural gender relations

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