Empowering women farmers in Haryana to combat climate change

Photo: N. Palmer (CIAT)

Although most women in rural India are directly or indirectly involved in agriculture, cultural barriers traditionally exclude them from adopting new technologies and receiving weather agro-advisories.

A project in Haryana State, northern India, set out to rectify this. It was a challenge to get women involved in the pilot study but the team from the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) interacted with women farmers, elected heads of villages (women in some cases) and educated women in male-headed households. Eventually more than 1200 female and male farmers in eight villages became involved.

Each male and female farmer in the project receives two voice messages under the CCAFS banner every day on their mobile phones, along with detailed text messages when required. These messages provide weather forecasts, information about pests and pest control methods, details of climate-smart technologies, and general information about climate change and solutions for climate change.

… the information they heard on their mobile phones has helped improve their knowledge of climate-smart technologies, and enabled them to contribute more to household decision-making
“The information on insecticides and pesticides has been very useful. I have got recommendations on how to prevent certain diseases on paddy crop. The messages on crop residue management are informative too.” Satish Singh, a farmer in Haryana

On average, women spend more time listening to voice messages than men. Feedback from women farmers often shows that the information they receive on their mobile phones has helped improve their knowledge of climate-smart technologies, and enabled them to contribute more to household decision-making.

The most encouraging feedback was an email from a woman farmer in Anjanthali village, who credited the project with raising her awareness of modern agricultural practices and how she might help her family do better in agriculture and reduce the risks of climate variability. She has also started encouraging other women in the village and creating awareness of the mobile phone service.

Most of the women participants in the CCAFS pilot study now feel they are able to discuss new approaches to agriculture with male members of the family – something they did not feel sufficiently confident to do in the past.