By Avantika Upadhyaya Assistant Manager, Communications, TechnoServe*
When the COVID-19 pandemic began, Sunita Devi was forced to leave her job as a day laborer in Chandigarh, India, and return to her village in Hardoi, Uttar Pradesh, with her husband and adult son, Chinese. That’s where she joined TechnoServe’s local “Improving Livelihoods for Smallholder Farming Households” program, where for the last year she’s leased land and learned to grow wheat on her own. Sunita and Chinese harvested their wheat together and yielded a significant profit, thanks in part to training, crop advisory services and soil health testing. As the pandemic subsides and migrant workers return to the city for work, Sunita has decided to stay in her village and continue building a sustainable livelihood in agriculture, for herself and her family.
Sunita’s story demonstrates the power and resilience of women in agriculture. Women comprise a majority of the agricultural workforce in Uttar Pradesh and at least 37% of rural agriculture across the globe. However, women’s participation in agriculture is often informal, unacknowledged, and underpaid. Women farmers are often restricted to labor-intensive activities with minimal economic return. They have limited access to information, technology, and market networks – which can all improve their livelihoods but are monopolized by men, because women are often relegated to “domestic” responsibilities with their homes and families. Kellogg and TechnoServe are working to change that.
In 2020, Kellogg and TechnoServe launched the “Improving Livelihoods for Smallholder Farming Households” program to empower smallholder wheat farmers in five districts across Uttar Pradesh. The program’s approach to making agriculture more sustainable and profitable – especially as COVID-19 severely impacted smallholder farmer economics in the region – includes enrolling women in local Farmer Interest Groups (FIGs) and Farmer Field Schools (FFSs) to provide training in Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) and promote their participation in agriculture. As Kellogg celebrates International Women’s Day (IWD), which recognizes the achievements of women, we’re proud to share the news that this program successfully trained 2,719 farmers in 2020, 88% of whom are women.
The program expanded TechnoServe and Kellogg’s partnership in India, which started in 2015 with an award-winning program to train more than 12,000 smallholder farmers in Madhya Pradesh in climate-smart practices. Our longstanding collaboration is also one of more than 40 Kellogg’s Origins programs under the company’s global Better Days platform. Today – International Women’s Day – and every day, we are proud to partner with Kellogg in our shared objective to empower more women farmers such as Sunita to build happy, profitable lives.
*TechnoServe is a leading nonprofit organization operating in nearly 30 countries, working with women and men in the developing world to build competitive farms, businesses, and industries. As of the end of 2019, Kellogg programs have supported more than 433,000 farmers across the globe, including more than 13,000 women.