In Odisha and Bihar, CSISA has leveraged the social capital of the many women’s self-help groups that have been formed by the government and other civil society partners. These groups have provided readymade entry points for training and social mobilization, while also providing other antecedents for innovation including access to credit.
On a hot summer day in Muzaffarpur district of Bihar, around 60 women farmers gathered to learn about the handheld mechanical maize sheller that would liberate them from the painful and tedious practice of shelling maize by hand. The women were enthusiastic and spoke confidently. Bholi Devi, one of the group members, said, “Learning new ideas and people approaching us with new knowledge on agriculture has increased our confidence.”
CSISA works to empower women in agriculture by ensuring their access and exposure to modern and improved technological innovations, knowledge and entrepreneurial skills that can help them become informed and recognized decision-makers in agriculture.
In Bihar, CSISA started Kisan Sakhi (roughly translates to farmer friend), jointly with Bihar Mahila Samakhya, an Indian Government program on rural women’s empowerment. Thanks to the Kisan Sakhi initiative, many women farmers like Bholi Devi were introduced to new practices such as improved weed management, maize intercropping, intensification of cropping systems with summer green gram, machine transplanting of rice under non-puddled conditions and nursery management. Notably, CSISA also helped a women’s group in Muzaffarpur become mechanized service providers for rice planting — the first entrepreneurs of their kind in Bihar.
Women from the Santal tribe attend a CSISA training for SHGs in Mayurbhanj, Odisha.
In Odisha, CSISA has engaged with women’s self-help groups (SHGs) and their federations to undertake participatory technology testing and dissemination. As a result of this collaboration, and through Kisan Sakhi in Bihar, more than 1,500 women farmers tried at least one improved technology on their land during 2013-14.