Rural distress on women farmer: an impact study

In January 2017, members of the Tamil Nadu Federation of Women Farmers’ Rights, a unit of Mahila Kisan Adhikar Manch (MAKAAM), conducted a field study to document the impact of the drought-induced rural distress on woman farmers. The report describes the situation in Tamil Nadu as a “famine”. Some contributing factors are concentration of ownership of arable land among fewer landlords, and destruction of water resources through sand mining and activities of breweries. Within this dire situation the report discusses the additional problems faced by women farmers arising out of lack of land ownership. According to the report, the Federation is “an Alliance of networks, campaigns, movements, organisations, people’s collectives and individuals who advocate, for the Right to Livelihood of women farmers , particularly the dalits, adivasis, single women, differently abled and displaced.” The role of women farmers in usually ignored when discussing the agrarian economy. This is partly because the identity of farmer is linked to land ownership. But according to report, despite 74% of the rural women workforce being engaged in agriculture (as against 59% of the male workforce) only 12.69% are legally recognized as farmers. This makes most statistics about the agrarian sector problematic. In the case of farmer suicides, women farmers are not included in the tally – but they might be classified as ‘housewife’.