It’s transplanting season here in Pursat province, Cambodia and across south and southeast Asia. The air is thick with the mists rising from flooded paddy fields as the extreme heat evaporates yesterday’s rain. Conditions are stifling, yet across vast swathes of countryside, women are bent double, transplanting the rice seedlings that will produce over 700 million tons of the world’s most important food staple.
Kumari Bai and her family hail from Debgaon, a village in Chattisgarh. Two persistent problems that the villagers were facing were lack of sustained year-long food security and low income from agricultural produce.
Kumari Bai was exposed to the benefits of implementing a ‘System of Root Intensification’ (SRI) to all crops, which helped her generate better yields.
This method incorporated traditional methods known to the farmers with modern technologies for better and a more sustained approach.
“More income with less seeds? We’ve been farming for generations. Never have I heard anything so crazy,” her husband mocked. “I convinced him and planted the seeds in five gunthas. Unlike the 100 kg we used to get with the traditional method, I harvested 250 kg, that too at a much lower expense,” she told VillageSquare.in. “Now for anything related to agriculture, he seeks my advice,” she adds with a laugh.
By Chris Hufstader, Oxfam America (See original post)
Khek Koeu must have been having trouble sleeping at night. Underneath her house were stacks of rice in 50-kilogram bags. She and her daughter grew about a third of it, and they bought the rest after the last harvest. They will sell it later, hopefully at a profit. All in all, it’s worth about $18,000—leaving enough money for Koeu to invest in building a metal fence around her house and yard, with a gate she can lock.
Despite her worry about thieves, having enough rice to lock up is a nice problem for Koeu, a 55-year-old widow in Cambodia’s Pursat province. She says she is now making more money, and growing more rice, since she learned to apply what’s known as the System of Rice Intensification (SRI) in 2010. In the past six years, she says, she has finished paying for college for all three of her children, and she bought them all motorbikes. “It’s hard to afford all this,” Koeu says. “In the years before we started SRI we had a lot of difficulties
From India Water Portal: http://www.indiawaterportal.org/articles/those-invisible-farm-hands
Parvati, aged 40, is an agricultural labourer working on the outskirts of Pune. The sole breadwinner of her family, she has not been going for work for three days because of severe pain in the lower back. She asks me for some pills or ointments that could relieve her of her backache. “I go for weeding and need to stay bent through the day. I walk back home after five and then do all the housework. Else, who will do it for me?” she asks.
Agriculture, an increasingly female activity
Agriculture is undergoing a radical change in India with more and more rural men migrating to bigger cities for work, leaving women, children and elderly behind to take care of the land and agriculture. This puts extra burden on women who have their hands full already with household chores. Surveys say that almost 75 percent of women, as compared to 59 percent men, work in the agricultural sector in India  and in many parts of India, women generate their income through agricultural activities .
“We come by the bus provided by the owner. It takes around 2.5 hours for us to reach here. We need to finish all our work at home, and come here at 9am and work till 5pm. It gets almost dark by the time we reach home. It is hard work but how can we complain? We get Rs 150 per day,” says 43-year-old Sangeeta, another agricultural labourer who works on the same farm as Parvati.
From being cultivators earlier, more women farmers are turning labourers indicating the growing distress in Indian agriculture where families are finding it difficult to hold on to their lands . The census classifies an agricultural labourer as “a person who works on another person’s land for wages in money or kind or share. He or she has no right of lease or contract on land on which she/he works”. Sixty three percent of women in India are agricultural labourers, dependent on the farms of others . In the case of women working on their own farms, it is mainly the men of the house who own the land.
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Ms. Nhem Sovannary, a farmer in Po Preah Sang village, Taphem commune, Tramkak district, Takeo province, was awarded first prize in 2013 and third prize in 2014 during the SRI national competitions, organized by CEDAC. She has 1.5 ha of rice fields, 800 m2 homegarden, 8 cattle, 100 chickens and a biogas.
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