Role of farm women in mixed farming systems : a case study of Karnal (Haryana) in India.

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Role of farm women in mixed farming systems : a case study of Karnal (Haryana) in India.
Singh, C. B.
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Gainesville, Fla.
Farming Systems Research and Extension, Department of Food and Resource Economics, University of Florida
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Spatial Coverage:
Asia -- India -- Haryana -- Karnal

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Full Text
APRIL 6, 1992

In recent years, various beliefs and assumptions about rural households have changed due to growing body of evidence on women's role in agriculture. There is now greater awareness and recognition of their role in various economic activities. However, it is disquieting to note that the work done by farm women, though vital to the task of meeting daily needs of the family, goes I unrecorded, unsupported and unrewarded. Various development programs have failed to bring about desirable improvement in their socioeconomic conditions because they are not included and involved in the projects. They are also excluded from official labor force statistics due to lack of adequate information about their role in various agricultural activities with the policy makers and planners. Now it is felt that incorporation of gender as an analytical variable in the agricultural development equation has become a necessity (Feldstein and Poats, 1989). Therefore, there is a need to explore and assess women's contribution in the farm and home sector in different areas of the country so that the development projects could 'involve them and utilize their labor force for increased productivity of farming systems and prosperity of the society. In order to fill the information gap about the women's role in various agricultural activities and decision making, the present study was undertaken with the following objectives:
- to assess female labor utilization and their contribution to dairy and crop farming
- to ascertain the extent of time spent by females in various domestic activities,
- to examine the magnitude of women's participation in decision making in dairy
and crop farming systems and domestic activities.
The present study was conducted in Karnal district of the Haryana State. Multi stage random sampling technique was followed to select the households. Amongst 10 development blocks of Karnal district, two blocks were randomly selected and from each block, one village was randomly chosen. A list of milk producer households was then prepared for each selected village according to the land owning status, viz; landless laborers, marginal farmers (up to 1 hectare), small farmers (1.01 to 2 ha), medium farmers (2.01 to 4.00 ha) and large farmers (above 4 ha.). A sample of 100 households was randomly selected on the basis of probability proportion to the number of households in different farm size groups. Thus, 46 landless, 20 marginal, 9 small, 13 medium and 12 large farmers -were selected for the study. An active woman from each household was interviewed by the female, investigators. Data pertaining to agricultural year 1989-90 were collected in the well structured schedule by survey method. To estimate man equivalent day of 8 hours, a female labor day and child labor day have been considered equivalent to 0.75 and 0.5 man day, respectively.

Socio-economic Characteristics:
In order to study the socio-economic status of different categories of households, data .on the selected characteristics are presented in Table 1. A close perusal of the table reveals that size of family and cattle holding (number of mich animals) had a positive association with size of land holding. Interestingly, it refuted the old held belief that smaller holdings have larger families. It was observed that -there were 863 females per 1000 males, in the study area as against 933 in the country which showed that sex ratio continued to favor men. However, sex ratio favored females on small farms which could be partly attributed to relatively higher literacy. status of females leading to reduced mortality Iof female child. The average literacy status of females was about 39 percent as against 53 percent for all the members in the households in the study area. The landless laborers recorded the lowest literacy status of both males and females among all the categories.
The social stratification of the sample households showed the dominance of backward classes and scheduled caste families on the landless and marginal farm households. Backward classes and scheduled caste families together accounted for 65 percent of the total households in the study area which have political implications.
Female Labor in Dairy System:
It may be observed from Table 2 that on an average, 242 person days were used in dairy farming system, of which about 81 days of labor were contributed by the females on the sample households. The practice of hiring female labor was mainly found on large and medium farms while it was negligible on rjarginal and small farms. The contribution of female labor to total labor use was the highest on the landless labor households where no male or female labor was hired. The average contribution of female labor on the sample households was about 33 percent.
Table 3 shows the operation-wise contribution of female labor in dairy farming
system. The dairy farming operation of bringing fodder/grasses from the fields- registered the highest human labor use followed by giving water and chaffing accounting for about 32, 12 and 10 percent of the total human labor use. The contribution of females was 100 percent in preparation of milk products followed by cleaning of cattleshed, bringing fodder/grasses from the fields, feeding and chaffing operations. However, contribution of female labor on small holdings was reported to be higher than the males, in almost all the dairy farming operations, except that in bringing fodder grasses from the fields (Rani and Singh, 1982). Sangwan et al (1986) and Kaur and Punia. (1988) have also reported significant role of women in dairy farming.

Table 1
Socio-Economic Characteristics of the Sample Households
Category of Households
Particulars Landless Marginal Small Medium Large Overall
Labor Farmer Farmer Farmer Farmer
Size of family 5.65 6.05 6.55 7.38 8.42 6.37
Sex ratio 883 779 1034 809 871 863
Size of land holding (ha) 0.66 1.64 3.27 7.15 2.90
Size of cattle holding
(No. of milch animals) 1.72 2.55 3.78 4.92 6.00 3.00
Literacy Status (%)
a) All members 37.93 55.21 75.47 67.91 82.02 52.94
b) Females 22.58 35.56 67.78 60.00 73.17 38.79
Social Stratification (%)
Scheduled castes 32.61 5.00 16.00
Backward classes 60.87 80.00 33.33 15.38 49.00
Other castes 6.52 15.00 66.67 84.62 100.00 35.00
Table 2
Female Labor Utilization in Dairy Farming System
(Man Equiv. Days/Household/Annum)
Category of Total Female Labor Use Contribution of Females
Households Human to Total Labor Use
Labor Use Family Hired Total (%)
Landless 151.62 70.38 70.38 46.42
Marginal 217.91 55.85 0.73 56.58 25.97
Small 276.99 73.41 6.89 80.30 28.99
Medium 377.07 79.45 39.59 119.04 31.57
Large 458.98 59.00 59.92 118.92 25.91
Overall 242.35 67.56 13.10 80.66 33.29
(83.76) (16.24) (100.00)

Table 3
Operation-wise Contribution of Females in Dairy Farming Systems
(Man Equiv. Days/Household/Annum)
Operation Human Labor Percentage Contribution
Use of Total of Females
Bringing fodder/grasses 77.78 32.09 32.33
Chaffing 24.42 10.08 24.66
Feeding 20.00 3.25 25.36
Grazing 10.58 4.36 2.07
Giving water 29.97 12.28 16.87
Handling of animals 18.03 7.44 21.86
Cleaning of sheds 21.46 8.6 80.44
Health care 8.47 3.49 18.10
Milking 12.30 5.08 19.88
Preparation of milk products 13.43 5.54 100.00
Marketing of milk/products 6.13 2.53 21.43
Total/overall 242.35 100.00 33.29
Female Labor in crop Fanning System:
Table 4 shows the female labor use and its contribution in crop farming system. As usual the total female labor as well as total human labor use increased with an increase in farm size. The average female labor utilization was about 78 days on the sample farms and thus females contributed about 24 percent to the total human labor use in crop fanning which was recorded to be the highest on small farms. Planting and threshing operations were reported to be mainly done by females while land preparation, fertilizer application, use of plant protection chemicals and irrigation were mostly done by males. The remaining farm operations were jointly performed by men and women.
Role of Females in Domestic Activities:
The magnitude of women contribution in various domestics activities is shown in Table 5. The average time spent by all females in the households in performing various domestic chores was 7.50 hours per day on the sample households as against about 4 hours per day by an adult female. The activity of cooking consumed the highest time followed by cleaning kitchen and utensils accounting together for about 41 % of the total time spent in all the domestic activities. Considering all the farm and home activities together, the average work burden on an adult female was estimated at 2643 hours per year as against the norm of

1800 hours (Ahuja 1971). Thus, it may be inferred that women are overburdened with the work in the study area. The findings of this study are in conformity with the observations made by Singh and Rami (1983).
Table 4
Female Labor Utilization in Crop Farming System (Man Equiv. Days/Household/Annum)
Category of Total Human Female Labor Use Contribution of Females
Households Labor Use Family Hired Total To Total Labor Use (%)
Marginal 89.37 21.16 21.16 23.68
Small 210.29 41.32 24.19 65.51 31.15
Medium 403.37 51.19 52.43 103.62 25.69
Large 722.95 37.23 115.67 152.90 21.15
Overall 325.91 35.33 42.37 77.70 23.84
Table 5
Time Spent by Females in Domestic Activities (Minutes/Household/Day)
Activities Time Spent Time Spent Percent of
by Females by an Adult Total
Cooking 118 67 27.57
Cleaning kitchen/utensils 53 33 13.58
Fetching water 24 14 5.77
Serving meals/milk 63 18 7.41
Fetching fuel wood 11 9 3.70
Preparation of dung cake 23 15 6.17
Cleaning of House 30 8 3.29
Cleaning of grains 8 6 2.47
Churning of curd 25 18 7.41
Washing of cloths 27 17 7.00
Care of child 29 10 4.11
Sewing/knitting 14 10 4.11
Repair of house 12 8 3.29
Handicrafts 5 5 2.06
Kitchen gardening 6 5 2.06
Total 448 243 100.00

Women's Participation in Decision Making:
Modem agricultural technology has brought about a change in the outlook and attitude of rural people including that of women. However,,it is not well known as to what extent they are involved in the decision making process in various farm and domestic activities. There are decisions which are exclusively taken either by women or men. While some others are taken jointly by men and women or by all the family members which has been assessed and discussed in thesections that follow.
Dairy Farming Systems:
It was noted that only 21 percent of the decisions, pertaining to different activities of dairy farming, were taken by women only, 34 percent by men only and 34 percent by both men and women on the sample households (Table 6). Women's participation in decision making was higher than that of men in case of activities like utilization of milk and. milk products, selling of milk and milk products and care and management of calves which accounted for 70, 64 and 30 percent of the decisions by all categories. In case of feeding of concentrates to the animals, women had equal participation with men. The table further revealed that a large proportion of decisions were jointly taken by both men and women. The men had greater participation than women in case of purchase of draught animals, borrowing of loan, artificial insemination, vaccination and insurance of animals. Thus, it may be concluded that women played a dominant role in some decisions and a supportive role in others. Similar findings were reported by Dubey et al (1978) and Dak et al (1986).
Crop Farming Systems:
Women's participation in decision. making process of crop farming system is shown in Table 7. It is evident from the table that women had a negligible involvement in decision making in crop farming activities. The average participation rate of women was only 6 percent as against 55 percent of men. However, 31 percent of the decisions in crop activities were taken jointly by men and women. There was only one activity of storage of main crop products where women had a greater say. Weeding, use of plant protection chemicals and sale of products were the other crop farming activities where women had some involvement in decision making. Thus, it may be concluded that participation of women in decision making was not as significant as their contribution to total human labor use.
Domestic Activities:
A close perusal of Table 8 reveals that a large majority of decisions about various
domestic activities were taken by wom,-in only. It was only in case of kitchen, gardening and fetching fuel wood where men had greater participation than women. The average participation rate of women in decision making in domestic activities was 72 percent as against 4 percent for men. Thus, it can be concluded that by and large, domestic activities are not only performed by women but most of the related decisions are also taken by them.

Table 6
Women's Participation in Decision Making in Dairy Farming
(In Percent)
Activities Women Men Both All Members
Only Only Men and Women
Choice of animal 9 25 48 18
Cattleshed construction 7 23 53 17
Purchase of milch- stock 17 19 52 12
animals 22 31 39 8
AI in animals -31 62 17
Treatment of diseases 18 34 35 13
Vaccinations 3 50. 39 8
Feeding of concentrates 27 27 30 16
Care of calves 30 18 36 16
Selling of animals 27 29 33 11
Utilization of milk 70 15 11 4
Selling of milk 64 15 17 4
Purchase of draught animal 1 70 15 14
Borrowing of loan 11 63 20 6
Purchase of dairy equipment 16 45 32 7
Insurance of animals 19 53 17 11
Overall 21 34 34 11

Table 7
Women's Participation in Decision Making in Crop Farming
(In Percent)
Activities Women Men Both All Members
Only Only Men and Women
Selection of crops 35 46 19
Allocation of land 43 44 13
Selection of seed/variety 59 33 8
Preparatory tillage 92 4 4
Raising of seedlings 91 5 4
Time of sowing 80 17 3
Fertilizer application 92 4 4
Irrigation 92 4 4
Weeding 20 57 18 5
Use of plant protection'
Chemicals 20 57 18 5
Harvesting 78 18 4
Threshing & winnowing 65 20 15
Retaining produce 2 17 o 54 27
Sale of produce 13 27 56 4
Storage of main products 37 24 35 4
Storage of byproducts 2 50 44 4
Land development 57 39 4
Leasing of land 44 43 13
Purchase of equipment 63 24 13
Installation of tubewell 78 9 13
Hiring of labor 59 35 6
Borrowing 2 57 39 2
Overall 6 55 31 8

Table 8
Women's Participation in Decision Making in Domestic Activities
(In Percent)
Activities Women Men Both All Members
Only Only Men and Women
Cooking 53 23 24
Cleaning kitchen 100
Fetching water 70 10 20
Serving meals 90 10
Serving milk/tea 81 3 8 8
Fetching fuel wood 9 11 40 40
Making dung cake 100
Cleaning/dusting house 100
Cleaning grains 95 5
Grinding of wheat 100
Churning of curd 100
Washing of clothes 100
Child care 67 6 27
Sewing and knitting 100
House repair 70 1 8 21
Handicrafts 80 3 10 7
Kitchen gardening 27 39 20 14
Overall 72 4 11 13

Major Conclusions and Suggestions:
Based on the above discussion of the results, following major conclusions can be drawn and suggestions made for increasing the productivity of mixed farming systems and welfare of the rural society in the study area:
The weaker sections, especially the landless laborers and marginal farmers have
much lower socio-economic status compared to other categories of households.
Therefore, more intensive efforts should be made by the scientists and extension
personnel for their development
Farm women play an important role in dairy and crop farming systems in
general and a dominant role in certain activities of these systems in particular.
Therefore, they should be involved in the formulation and implementation of
various research and development projects. Besides, concerted efforts should be
made to develop and introduce appropriate technologies for increasing their
efficiency and reducing their work burden.
Farm women actively participate in decision making especially in dairy farming
and domestic activities. Therefore, suitable training programs should be
designed and organized with special reference to certain activities by the research
and extension/development agencies at the block, district and state levels.

Ahuja, K. 1971. Poverty and availability for work criteria. Idle labor in village, India. Vikas publications, New Delhi.
Dak, T.M., M.L. Sharma and R. Jain. 1986. Role of women in agriculture: An investigation into socio-economic correlates affecting change in the work participation. Paper presented at seminar on "Role of development programmes on socio-economic status of women", March 21-22, 1986. H.A.U. Hisar, India.
Dubey, V.K., S. Singh and J.K Khera. 1978. Role of rural women in farm decision making, NDRI Annual report, Karnal.
Feldtein, H. S, and S.V. Poats. 1989. Working together gender analysis in agriculture. Volume I. Case studies, Kumarian Press.
Kaur, S. and R.K. Punia. 1988. Work participation of women in rural households: An empirical study, Guru Nanak journal of sociology, 9(2): 51-57
Sangwan, V., I. Grover and S. Munjal. 1986. Participation of rural women of Haryana in home, farm and dairy sector. Paper presented at seminar on role of development programmes on socio-economic status of woman, March 21-22, 1986. H.A.U. Hisar, India.
Singh, C.B. and U. Rami. 1983. Work burden of farm women a case study, Kurukshetra, 31(16):10-12.
Rani, U. and C.B. Sing. 1982. Economic performance of farm women of weaker sections in dairy enterprise, Asian journal of dairy research, 1(3), 206-212.