Virtual Congress of women farmers at ISC meet
Visakhapatnam (PTI): For the first time in the history of Indian Science Congress, a Virtual Congress of women farmers, who constitute a major chunk of the country's agricultural workforce, was held on Saturday as part of the annual science meet currently underway in this port city.
The Virtual Congress was jointly organized by Chennai-based M S Swaminathan Research Foundation and Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) in which women members of six Village Resource Centres (VRC) spread across the country participated through a technical know-how provided by the space agency.
The satellite-based Village Resource Centre (VRC) project was jointly established by ISRO and M S Swaminathan Research Foundation in 2004 with the objective of providing digital connectivity to remote village for providing multiple services like telemedicine, tele-education and remote sensing applications through a single window.
There are about 300 VRCs functioning in the country at present.
The Virtual Congress for Mahila Kisan was necessary as women constitute about 70 per cent of agricultural workforce and they faced problems specific to them, eminent agriculture scientist M S Swaminathan said.
Aimed at addressing the specific problems of women farmers, the Virtual Congress came out with a nine-point charter that demands giving title to land and providing the right to credit to the women agriculturists.
Union Minister of State for Women and Child Welfare Renuka Chowdhary, who inaugurated the meet, said the Virtual Congress is "a right harmony of technology and traditional methods"
"This is a bridge between rural and urban divide. This is a platform, I, as minister for women and child welfare, will be using extensively," she said.
The women farmers from Village Resource Centres in Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Orissa and Vidarbha region of Maharashtra, where the highest number of farmers suicides in the country were reported, and Pokhran in Rajasthan, raised issues like institutional credit, land rights, health insurance, erratic power supply and other occupational hazards.
Responding to their problems, Chowdhary said the government is trying to address the issues.
She said she will call a meeting of shoe-makers to supply gum-boots to the women as they have to stand in slushy fields for longer hours.
Later, Swaminathan released a nine-point charter for Mahila Kisans.
The document calls for providing joint pattas (title) as it is essential for women farmers to get access to Kisan Credit Cards and institutional credit.
The women, both individual and self-help groups, should have the right to credit and to insurance. New insurance schemes should be started for Mahila Kisans to cover them from occupational hazards, like leptosporosis infection in paddy fields, it said.
Sci. & Tech.