Empowerment of Women Farmers through Value Addition on Minor Millets Genetic Resources: A Case Study in Karnataka
Finger millet is an important dryland crop valued for food grain and straw. One of the striking features of finger millet is its resilience and ability to adjust to marginal agro-climatic conditions in terms of soil fertility, rainfall and other weather parameters. The grain is nutritious with balanced protein, higher calcium and iron and dietary fibre. This offers ample opportunities for developing and promoting nutritious utility products from finger millet. In view of this, a study was undertaken to enhance the income of finger millet growing farmers by increasing productivity and strengthening the capacity of farming community for value addition and marketing of value added products. The process involved selection of two improved varieties by farmer participatory approach, organizing several field enhancement trials in farmers’ fields for three years, empowering farmers in quality seed production and supply conservation using village seed bank approach and leveraging Self Help Groups (SHGs) of farm women for value addition of grain and its marketing. The crop management, also involving the developmental departments, resulted in 30–35 per cent increase in yield. On-farm intercrop trials of finger millet with field bean or pigeonpea during three years indicated higher monetary returns in comparison with the farmers’ practice.
The rural mobilization under this study focused on SHGs constituted by small and landless farmers of villages in Doddabomanahalli and B.R. Hills of southern Karnataka. The nutritional status of women of these villages revealed 60–70% nutrient adequacy with low Hb levels in 50% of them. The pattern of group savings and lending showed that most of the credit was used for improving the sustainability of their agriculture and subsidiary activities. Empowerment of women was undertaken through trainings based on the need assessment carried out in a participatory mode. The training was imparted for preparation of value added products of finger millet (malt and energy dense mix) quality control, labeling, marketing of the produce with attractive cost benefit ratio. Empowerment of SHG women through training and nutrition education had positive impact on leadership qualities, enhanced self confidence, skills to undertake value added products and their marketing, domestic consumption, income generation and all converging to improved nutrition and economic status.
Women empowerment, Small millets, Genetic resources, Value addition, Self help groups, Nutrient intake, Dietary pattern, Socio-demographic profile.