Empowering Women Farmers in Bundelkhand, Celebrating Their Entrepreneurship – ActionAid India
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Empowering Women Farmers in Bundelkhand, Celebrating Their Entrepreneurship

Published on: Friday, 9th December 2022

Author: Priyanka Khullar (with inputs from state team)

A semi-arid region, Bundelkhand witnesses extreme climatic events, including recurrent droughts and erratic rains, leading to water scarcity, infertile land, soil erosion and crop failures. As a result, the lives and livelihoods of local communities that depend on agriculture and allied activities take a hit. To enhance livelihood opportunities among vulnerable communities in Bundelkhand, we started a programme in August 2020 with the ”la Caixa” Foundation and Alianza por la Solidaridad. Covering 40 villages from Jhansi, Lalitpur and Mahoba districts in Uttar Pradesh, this initiative works towards empowering women and youth from marginalised communities and creating sustainable livelihoods.
Within two years, the programme has supported more than 3,000 women to develop livelihood enterprises. These include vermicomposting, nutrition garden (poshan vatika), seed production, multi-layer farming, horticulture, poultry farming and goat rearing. As a result, the women have significantly enhanced their income, enabling them and their families to lead healthy and dignified lives. Nearly 2,000 of these women farmers recently organised themselves as Basant Mahila Farmer Producer Organisation (FPO); it aims to empower several more disadvantaged women in the region by advancing their livelihood opportunities and strengthening market linkages. On September 28, 2022, more than 400 women farmer entrepreneurs from the three intervention districts gathered at Pandit Deendayal Upadhyay Auditorium in Jhansi for their annual convention. It was also an opportunity to exhibit their products, including organic vegetables, fertilisers, varieties of foundation seeds and chicken eggs.
Sh. Anurag Sharma, Honourable Member of Parliament, Jhansi-Lalitpur, graced the programme and commended the efforts of all women farmers. He assured them of his support to set up counters at agricultural fairs in Jhansi and Lalitpur free of cost, where they can exhibit and sell their products. The Hon’ble MP also offered his help to link them with Rani Lakshmi Bai Central Agricultural University, Jhansi, for certification of their natural, chemical-free products and regular training. Sh. A. Arunachalam, Director, Central Agroforestry Research Institute (CAFRI), Jhansi, also assured the FPO of his support in providing them space for a stall at CAFRI.
Sandeep Chachra, Executive Director, ActionAid Association, congratulated the women farmer entrepreneurs for breaking the chains of patriarchy and caste discrimination, asserting their rights, earning enhanced incomes through their entrepreneurial spirit and forging a path for others to follow in a climate-stressed region like Bundelkhand. He urged them to strengthen their collective energies further to flourish. Savita, one of the entrepreneurs from Jhansi, narrated how women in her community, who were earlier confined to just managing the household, now have a chance to do something different – to run a business! See a short video here and read more about the advances achieved so far and the plans under the programme in this report.