Disadvantaged farmers, including women (D&W farmers) are key in defining agricultural policy in the Twelfth Fifth Year Plan. Many face insecurity of tenure and the growing threat of land alienation and pressures from urbanization, industrialization, and constraints at all points in the agricultural value chain. These concerns are often compounded for tribal women and farmers, where the author raises the question of whether these constraints can be turned into opportunities.
A working group congregated to address this question using an evidence-based approach and devised four broad categories, land security, inputs and infrastructure access, agri-business and market access, and new institutional and group approaches. Challenges faced by this group were further assessed, in terms of land, credit, inputs, risk, and new innovative marketing strategies for agricultural services.
A number of promising schemes were put forward, followed by detailed recommendations and a summary. A new approach to land access schemes involved facilitating land purchase, for both women and the disadvantaged, following the Andhra Pradesh example. Providing homestead land for shelter and small livelihoods was also deemed a priority, in addition to changing the law to allow for land leasing. Additional suggestions and recommendations include:
introducing a credit access scheme, involving credit cards
group farming D&W farmers and the adoption of a group-oriented approach
restricting the conversion of agricultural lands to non-agricultural use
small-scale irrigation needs to be expanded and low-cost machinery and tools be made more accessible