How Education Leads to Farmer Empowerment
Supporting Small Farmers & Women in India
How do we empower farmers? The state of Andhra Pradesh is discovering some fascinating answers.
At RySS (Rythu Sadhikara Samstha) in Andhra Pradesh, India, they believe that natural farming is the solution to farmer empowerment. The Zero-Budget Natural Farming program enhances the welfare of small and marginalized farmers. The project educates and trains farmers on climate-change resilient, low-cost farming practices.
By giving farmers the tools they need to become truly self-reliant, initiatives like this create lasting, meaningful impact. The global crises of climate change, hunger, and poverty will not be solved by policy alone. Billions of farmers around the world must be part of the solution.
Farmer Empowerment Happens with Peer Support
The key method in this farmer empowerment work is their farmer-to-farmer knowledge dissemination and training strategy. This approach relies on the leadership of farmers who have experienced the benefits of ZBNF in their own fields. These farmers now work to encourage and train more farmers to adopt these practices. The program continues to grow as it works intensively with women’s empowerment groups.
And how does it empower women specifically?
According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, women make up 43% of the global agricultural labor force.
However, legal and cultural constraints in developing countries mean less access for women to resources such as education, credit loans, and commodities like fertilizer. As such, there is a 20-30% yield gap between male and female farmers. Additionally, women are less likely to own land or livestock.
“If women farmers had the same equal access to resources as men, the number of hungry people could fall by 150 million.”
In many places around the world, women take on the bulk of the responsibility of care-taking for children and the elderly. This outdated expectation bars them from opportunity, and the world from progress, equally. Women are vital to rural economies as they provide 60-80% of food production in developing countries. Upholding the dignity of their rights is more than just a goal. It is also the most sustainable way of fighting poverty and hunger around the world.
Anna Fälth, program manager and policy advisor at UN Women, added a key observation to the discourse: “Empowered women have healthier and better-educated children.” Women who are given the chance to take part in decision making benefit their communities, and the world at large.
From the Indian countryside all the way to the food on your plate, every step along the agricultural value chain matters. Farmer empowerment at the grassroots level means you can enjoy your food knowing that it was grown using healthy, natural, and sustainable practices.