Strengthening women in wheat farming in India: old challenges, new realities, new opportunities. GENNOVATE resources for scientists and research teams


In parts of rural India, particularly those experiencing male outmigration, norms are shifting to accommodate open recognition of women as farmers and managers of wheat and as adopters of associated technologies including zero tillers, combine harvesters, and improved varieties of wheat. These change processes are uneven. They vary across and within regions, and manifest themselves in different and subtle ways. Caste plays a significant role in the degree to which women and men are targeted, and are able to engage, in new technologies and practices. In some locations, middleincome upper caste, and other backward class (OBC), women and their families are seizing the benefits of new technologies and practices. However, in many locations scheduled castes (SC) and scheduled tribes (ST) women and their families – despite having some land and a strong desire to participate – continue to languish in poverty, ignored by the rural advisory services (RAS) and village heads due to their low caste and socioeconomic status. There are important exceptions. Some communities are overcoming gender and caste barriers, allowing poor men and women to invest in technologies and change their lives. Transformational support factors include progressive village heads, shopkeepers selling inputs, agricultural cooperatives, and sometimes large farmers willing to share their learning. In a few locations, thriving off-farm economic A resource for scientists and research teams opportunities allow middle-income and low-income people to invest in time-saving innovations and have time left over to diversify their incomes and improve their economic status. This resource provides guidance for scientists, researchers, and RAS in wheat-based systems on how to better target women in all communities and how to improve inclusion for everyone. To do this it builds on 12 case studies conducted across India’s wheat belt under the CGIAR Research Program on WHEAT as part of GENNOVATE, a large-scale collaborative research initiative focusing on how gender norms influence, and are influenced by, local agricultural innovation processes