RURAL WOMEN: THEIR PARTICIPATION AND EFFORTS IN AGRICULTURE

Whenever we talk about the participation and efforts of village women in agriculture we cannot deny the fact based on anthropological studies that women were the first to plant gardens of Cereals. In ancient societies the task of planting and farming was the job of women whereas men were involved in hunting animals. So, in other words women are the real founders of agriculture. Even today women are the main producers and the main source of total agriculture in the world.

In Pakistan women are estimated to constitute 42% of the total family labor. In other countries like Egypt, Turkey, Sudan, Morocco and Lebanon women comprised 50.7%, 55.3%, 34.7%, 53.2% and 40.7% of total paid and unpaid agriculture labor respectively. In developing countries, two-third of the women labor force is engaged in agricultural labor e.g. in countries like Zimbabwe, Congo, Afghanistan and Kenya women provide 40-80% of the labor. If we see the percentage of active females working in agriculture globally, the ratio of women working globally in agriculture is 50% it exceeds to 61% in low income deficit countries and touches 79% in least developed countries. In-short, rural women are playing a vital role in agriculture production sector all over the world.

Females all over the world are not only involved in field works like sowing , rearing, transplanting and production but they are perform activities which supplements agriculture productivity e.g. food storage, threshing, grain cleaning, cottage industry and livestock etc. They are also engaged in providing cattle for plugging and poultry farm activities. Women are an equally important part of society as males. As a part of society women are playing part in reproductive, productive and community management activities.

Females all over the world are facing serious constraints in agriculture but Pakistani women have to face more difficult circumstances because of strict social, cultural, financial, legal and political factors applied to the gender discrimination. Women are facing preferential treatment inside and outside the boundary wall. As the women are involved in every corner of household work and they are also easing their partners by equally participating in their field works, this overloading of work adversely affects the women health and also affects the health of infants and young children. Almost all the rural women are illiterate because of conservative cultural codes and are unaware of agricultural techniques. All the agencies access only men to provide them knowledge related to farming, latest techniques and productivity enhancement resultantly women only get secondary knowledge. In underdeveloped countries women are deprived of the right of land ownership. Emerging trend of male migration to urban areas in search of jobs increased the responsibilities of village women, particularly the farm work. In brief women participation is considered low in country’s development not because of their

minimum participation but because their efforts are not accounted and recognized at national levels.

Particularly in Pakistan, despite of all these efforts and contributions made by women in agricultural productivity they are not even accolade at family level. Instead of crediting their efforts they are disgraced by their men and are made to feel little because of their ignorance and little knowledge. Women are usually censured at minor things and they remain dependent on their males for their whole lives. Men’s ego never accepts a women working better than him.

That’s why he uses his man power for letting her down. In order to increase the agricultural production we have to recognize the efforts of rural women at national levels. We have to give them sufficient rights so that they can work without any hurdles.

Firstly, an integrative system should be designed by Government of Pakistan in order to ease women in all agricultural sectors e.g. tax reforms, financial services , land reforms etc.

Secondly, gender-segregated data should be collected and considered by policy makers. In addition to this, women should be taught about the use of latest agricultural tools and techniques. Moreover, women should be made familiar with the new methods of food preservation and processing.

Anyhow, we should celebrate the International Day of Rural Women on national levels and acclaim and appreciate the rural women efforts publically. We should stand for their rights and take steps to make their lives unruffled.

The perfect women, you can see is the working women, one who uses her hands, and her head and her heart for the good of others. (Thomas Hardy)

Food security and threats

Ever growing population and faltering economy, along with, the disastrous changes being witnessed in the climate of the country has severely threatened the food security of the state. Pakistan, being the agricultural country, has highly depended on the wheat, rice and other food articles. Despite the high growth rate in these areas, unfair distribution and hoarding of the grain as well as unpredictable high prices make it hard for the poor and unemployed people to buy for diet. Concurrently, for the food security, economic and social strength is essential to maintain sufficient food availability because lower economic growth results in the failure of buying power of the people. Scary Statistics are shown by the Global Report on the Food Crises 2017 in which Pakistan is among those top three south Asian countries who are most poverty stricken in the world i.e. Bangladesh and India. It shows that 5o million child’s, under age 5 have not weight enough to meet height. Agricultures sector that was most progressing in the 2000s had plummeted to negative growth last year and this year, it has growth rate of 2.01%. with this growth rate and declining the stock exchange reserves, poverty would rise to unprecedented scale and would further deteriorate the food situation.

Horrible situation came to front in the supreme court hearing in which the plight of the children of the Thar was noticed. Unavailability of the food caused death of hundreds of the children, at the same, no long-term initiative has been taken to ensure the food security there that is the fundamental right as per law. Concurrently, where global population is expected to be doubled till 2050, situation is far worse for the countries like us with high population growth rate.  Provision of the safe food to millions of people in the face of impending threats of global warming, melting of glaciers, shrinking agricultural lands and declining exports pose high risk to the massive population. According to the recent estimates, cultivated agriculture land has declined from 0.45% in 1996 to 0.15% in 2018. Deficiency of the food is also due to the energy crises that posed multidimensional problems i.e. unemployment, shut down of the business, cut down in exports, decrease foreign reserves and slow agricultural growth. With these multifaceted issues, food threats become more illuminant and hazardous.

Globally, incentives are taken to use more technology and manpower to raise up growth of the food items in proportion with the rising population. Even in the country like us, lavish use of the meat, milk, butter and other articles of food linked with rural life have reduced due to massive urbanization and lack of incentive on the part of the government. This has generated need of the artificial industry to meet the demand of the meat, milk, butter and fast food. Unplanned urbanization has resulted in the reduction of the cultivated lands, cities have absorbed massive chunks of the land leaving huge unemployment.  In the same way, unemployment is linked with the domestic agricultural and industrial growth that is sluggish in our country. If any country has robust growing economy, their population always have had enough earnings to buy food, but, if economy is already faltering, lack of resources on the part of people would make their survival difficult.

The government should boost economic growth by taking much needed steps of giving incentives to the industrial and agricultural sector that would in return, create jobs for the people. With the rewarding jobs, threats of the food security can be tackled. Moreover, climate change is endangering the existence of the agricultural sector in our country. Immediate measures are required to be implemented in controlling the climate change in collaboration with other neighboring countries in order to maintain reasonable temperature to avert the threats of ice melting. Thus, food security and economic growth interact with each other and go hand in hand.

Impact of Climate Change on Agriculture and Mitigation Strategies

Climate change is manifested in a range of short-term weather events and long-term climatic trends that are deeply affecting agricultural systems, especially the rain-fed and subsistence ones. The most common changes being witnessed are unreliable rainfall periods (delayed commencement or early cessation of rains), erratic rains, leading to extended dry spells punctuated by intermittent rainfall events,  heavier-than-usual rainfall events and above-average air and soil temperatures.

Crops are dependent on temperature, light, moisture and COto produce grains and other crop products to satisfy the basic human needs. Climate change is very likely to affect food security at the global, regional, and local level. Climate change can disrupt food availability, reduce access to food, and affect food quality. Increases in temperature, changes in precipitation patterns, changes in extreme weather events, and reductions in water availability may all result in reduced agricultural productivity.

Higher CO2 levels can affect crop yields. Some laboratory experiments suggest that elevated CO2 levels can increase plant growth.  Though rising CO2 can stimulate plant growth, it also reduces the nutritional value of most food crops. More temperature both high and low and precipitation can prevent crops from growing. Extreme events, especially floods and droughts, can harm crops and reduce yields. These are a source of rising concentration of greenhouse gases which in turn are the major reasons of global warming and other changes in climate The climate change is characterized by rising temperature, erratic and lower rainfall declined  frequency  but  with  greater intensity,  changing  seasons,  and  occurrence of  extreme  events floods  and  droughts.

Resource poor farmers are greatly affected by these changes that result in lower or failed agricultural production, higher incidence of pests and diseases, and an overall reduction in the efficiency and productivity of farming systems. There is an urgent need to adapt traditional agricultural systems to these changes in order to make them more resilient to climatic shocks and stresses. Broader actions are also needed to mitigate climate change itself in other words to actually reduce the magnitude or rate of climate change.

Climate Smart Agriculture may be a viable mitigation tool that includes both new and old agricultural practices that are considered effective in helping farmers adapt to climate change and among some groups to mitigate climate change.  Apart from this  varieties which  are  tolerant  to  high  temperature  and  drought   should  be developed  so  that  losses  could  be avoided.  The  temperature  component may  shorten  the  growth  periods; therefore  the  cultivating time  should be  adjusted  accordingly.

 

 

South Asia and Climate Change

Climate change is one of the greatest threats the world is facing today. There is a scientific consensus that the earth is warming up and climate change is happening everywhere. Although the issue is a global phenomenon, the impacts of it will not be felt in equal proportion across the world. It is irrefutable that the impacts are likely to differ in both magnitude and rate of changes in different continents, countries, and regions. South Asian countries are facing negative impacts of climate change on their lives and livelihoods. The fourth report of the intergovernmental panel on climate change (IPCC) and first assessment report of Indian network of climate change Assessment (INCCA) confirm that climate change is likely to increase the frequency and intensity of climate-related hazards and also the emergence of new catastrophes that could manifest in the form of sea level rise and new vulnerabilities with various spatial and socio-economic impacts on communities.

In South Asia, glaciers of the Himalayas have the largest storage of ice outside the polar region. Melting of this reserve is the source of some of the world’s biggest rivers. In the rainy seasons, these glacial melts, coupled with heavy rain, may cause flood which hampers the lives and livelihoods of the people of the region.

Even small climate-related hazard can cause irreversible damage to a large number of people. The region also suffers from a large number of natural disasters. Over the past forty years, South Asian countries faced as many as 1,333 disasters that killed 980,000 people, affected 2.4 billion lives and damaged assets worth US$105 billion. From 1990 to 2008, more than 750 million people were affected by natural disasters which caused the death of about 60,000 people and about US$ 45 billion in damages.

BANGLADESH:

The low-lying areas of South Asia or large deltas and coastal areas of the region could be drowned by sea level rise. Climate change has affected the agriculture of Bangladesh that forced people to migrate from rural to urban areas. Cyclone ‘Aila’ hit Bangladesh in 2009 which forced 200,000 people of Southwestern part to migrate from homes and the damage totaled US$269.28 million. Under the current trends of climate change, per capita, water availability in 2025 will become 7,670 cubic meters against 12,162 cubic meters in 1991. Such reduction will affect the huge population of Bangladesh during the dry season while the current availability is already very low in the country.Such complex changes will have adverse impacts on the agricultural system and food production of the country.

  • INDIA:

India is also one of the major victims of climate change. By one estimate, climate change will cause a 30-40 percent drop in India’s agricultural output by 2080.It is projected that under the scenario of 2.5°c to 4.9°c temperature rise, rice yields will drop by 32-40 percent and wheat yields by 41-52 percent and this would cause Gross Domestic Product (GDP) to fall by 1.8-3.4 percent. A World Bank study reveals that about 700 million people of India will be forced to migrate from rural to urban areas due to the adverse impact of climate change on agriculture.Climate change may cause a rise of up to 4°c in surface air temperature by 2100 and a rising number of extreme weather events, such as droughts, floods, and cyclones in India.Furthermore, anomalies in global climate pattern pose a serious threat to the urban water supply of India. According to IPCC, by the year 2030, Himalayan glaciers will shrink from 500,000 km2 to 100,000 km2 affecting north Indian rivers where 50 percent of the water comes from snow melt.

  • PAKISTAN

Pakistan has an area of over 88 million hectares which includes a variety of landscape ranging from high mountain ranges to stark deserts. Climate change could make the country more vulnerable to natural disasters. Climate change in Pakistan is expected to increase glacial melt, sea level rise along its coast and increase periods without precipitation. Due to various climate related disasters in past 40 years, the total death toll exceeds 90,000 and total recorded losses from disaster amounted to US$20 billion, including the US$10 billion losses caused by the 2010 flood.According to a study, by 2020, the temperature in Pakistan is expected to increase by 0.9°c doubling to 1.8°c by 2050. Scenarios for sea level rise include 20 cm by 2020 and 30 cm by 2050. The Indus River and its tributaries dissect the country, providing a source of the world’s largest contiguous irrigation network.In Pakistan, potentially huge and rapid reductions in Indus’ flows, coupled with intensified droughts and sea level rise, will require major livelihood transitions and economic transformation with consequent risks of social upheaval.

  • SRI LANKA:

Sri Lanka is also vulnerable to the effects of global climate change as major parts of the country will be submerged with rise in sea level. Climate change will bring dire consequences for the country for water, agriculture, health and coastal regions. As there are early signs of impacts, there are strong possibilities to reach serious proportions by 2025.Therefore, any adverse changes in already volatile weather patterns are likely to impact on the socio-economic activities of the country.In case of climate change, Sri Lanka might experience widespread effects, including climate variability and sea level rise, directly affecting the overall abundance and security of endemic species within the country.

  • MALDIVES:

Maldives is also at a high stake of global climatic change. The country consists of about 1,200 islands on the Indian Ocean. Asian Development Bank Economic Report for South Asia revealed that if the climate change would not be checked, Maldives would face losses of over 12 percent of its GDP by the end of this century and 1-meter sea level rise would inundate 66 percent of the archipelago’s land area which would affect tourism industry, the lifeline of the country’s economy.The natural beauty and tourism industry of Maldives is mainly centered on its beautiful sea beach, which represents 5 percent of the country’s total land area. It is to be noted that more than 97 percent inhabitants of islands reported beach erosion in 2004, of which 64 percent reported severe erosion and more than 45percent of the tourists have also reported about severe erosion.In the long run, climate change will threaten the entire country’s existence. The highest point of the country is 8 feet above sea level.Therefore; the country will be severely affected by global sea level rise. Along with rising sea levels, increased beach erosion, more powerful storms, higher storm surges and threats to biodiversity are among the major threats to the Maldives due to climate change over the coming decades.

  • NEPAL:

Nepal is a country of diverse climatic conditions, ranging from tropical in the south to alpine in the north. The country is facing problems like drought and flooding and there are possibilities that these will be magnified by climate change in future. In 1999, temperatures were increasing in Nepal and rainfall was becoming more variable. A decade later, in 2009, a modeling exercise conducted by a team of Nepali, American, British, Pakistani and Bangladeshi experts using the emissions scenarios in the IPCC’s special report (2007), found that the temperature would indeed increase in the mid-hills and the region was likely to grow more arid in non-monsoon seasons. It also suggested that precipitation was likely to be more uncertain and that storm intensity would increase.

  • BHUTAN:

Bhutan is part of the Eastern Himalayan region which contains part of three global biodiversity hotspots, 60 ecoregions, 330 bird areas, 53 important plant areas, a large number of wetlands and 29 Ramsar sites. Bhutan is a country of diverse array of flora and fauna including 5,603 species of vascular plants, 400 lichens, 200 mammals and about 700 birds.In future, climate change is likely to affect Bhutan in various ways e.g., changes in hydrological cycles may affect present level of drinking water of the country. As 80 percent of Bhutanese practice subsistence farming, climate change can cause changes in temperature which will increase the vulnerability of a large group of this population.In addition, climate change will affect forests, biodiversity as well as human health badly with increasing number of natural disasters.

  • AFGHANISTAN:

Afghanistan is the last country to join SAARC in 2007. The country is mountainous and very dry which has an arid and semi-arid continental climate with cold winters and hot summers. Due to climate change, Afghanistan is currently suffering from droughts. Available data and trends from neighboring countries indicate that mean annual temperature has increased by 0.6 °c since 1960, at an average rate of around 0.13 °c per year.

According to the IPCC report, people living in developing countries in low altitudes, particularly those along the coast of Asia will suffer the most. Some small island states are expected to face very high impacts. Hence, countries like Bangladesh and Maldives have possibilities to become worst sufferers. The consequences of climate change will be drastic for the region as about 70 percent of South Asians lives in rural areas and account for about 75 percent of the poor, who are the most impacted segments by climate change.