Gender Equity and its Impact on Sustainability in Cotton Farming in India

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AUTHORS Shruti Singh Suki Dusanj-Lenz

RESEARCHERS Rini Bankhwal Darshana Gajare Thasneem Masood Pooja Gupta

STRATEGIC ADVISORS Karan Kumar Somatish Banerji

ADVISERS Gijs Spoor Raj Janagam, Co-founder and CEO, Surge Impact Foundation Abhishek Jani, CEO, Fairtrade India Devina Singh, Communications Director Fairtrade India Amit Shah, CEO, Spectrum International

PUBLISHED BY Fashion Revolution India August 2019





1. INTRODUCTION 1.1 Background 1.2 Objective of Study 1.3 Scope and Limitations 1.4 Research Methodology

9 9 10 10 10

2. BASELINE: COTTON FARMING IN INDIA 2.1 Cotton Value Chain 2.2 Stakeholders 2.3 Cotton sustainability 2.4 Role and responsibilities of women in Cotton Cultivation

11 11 12 13 13

3. CURRENT CHALLENGES FACED BY WOMEN AND THEIR IMPACT ON COTTON SUSTAINABILITY 3.1 Economic 3.2 Social 3.3 Health and Safety 3.4 Environmental 3.5 Political


4. Regulatory environment 4.1 Government Policies and initiatives 4.2 Gaps in Current Interventions

24 24 27

5. Policy Recommendations


6. Conclusion


16 18 21 22 23


39 40

LIST OF FIGURES FIGURE 1: Farm to Retail value chain


FIGURE 2: Stakeholders in Cotton value chain


FIGURE 3: UN SDGs and Cotton sustainability


15 FIGURE 4: Women cotton farmers’ problem tree (Indian context)

FOREWORD Fashion Revolution has mobilised hundreds of thousands of people around the world to demand greater transparency, better working conditions and environmental sustainability within the global fashion industry since 2013. The movement was formed as a result of the Rana Plaza factory collapse in Bangladesh on 24th April 2013, in which more than 1,100 garment workers were killed. The victims were making clothes for major multinational fashion brands and retailers. Many of these companies didn’t know their clothes were being produced there. We saw this lack of transparency as a fatal flaw of the industry and knew that it needed urgent change. We wanted brands and retailers to be more transparent about where they were sourcing, who was working in their supply chains and under what conditions. Since then we have seen dozens of major brands trace their supply chains and disclose where their products are made. We have seen governments pass laws that require companies to disclose critical human rights and environmental management information. And, we have seen the concept of transparency become a common part of mainstream conversation amongst the public and the fashion industry around the world. However, transparency doesn’t stop on the factory floor. There are still many hidden parts of the fashion value chain that rarely receive the spotlight. Cotton production is one part of the supply chain that remains in the shadows, even though the sector employs millions of people across the planet. For consumers, it’s almost impossible to understand where the cotton they wear comes from, who grew it, under what conditions and at what environmental cost. Fashion Revolution hopes to change that. We do this by advocating for positive, systemic change of the global fashion industry at three interrelated levels: industry, culture and policy. Thus far, our policy change efforts have focused predominantly on countries in Europe, and as a result, we have helped make some significant impacts. We have seen the UK Modern Slavery Act pass into law in 2015, which means that companies with operations in the UK over £36 million turnover must publicly report on what they’re doing to root out forced labour in their supply chains. Similar legislation was subsequently passed in Australia and the Netherlands. In 2015, the European Union launched the flagship initiative on responsibility in the garment sector, in which we have been a key voice for change. We gave evidence to the European Parliament in April 2017, the day before the European Parliament took a key vote to pass a resolution that committed the Commission to exploring a number of legislative interventions and tools. In 2018, the powerful UK Environmental Audit Committee launched an inquiry into the social and environmental impacts of the fashion industry, which they told us was inspired by Fashion Revolution’s campaigning. We testified in front of the Committee in the Houses of Parliament and give evidence on the findings of our transparency research. Although the government rejected the report, we continue to push for legislative action. In 2020, when Germany takes up the EU presidency for the year, European leaders plan to make responsibility and sustainability in the global garment sector one of their three core topics. And now, we seek to explore what positive and constructive policy change might look in other countries where Fashion Revolution teams are already mobilising the public and helping to lead cultural change in their communities. This was the ambition of the partnership between the British Council and Fashion Revolution through the Policy Dialogue project. The research conducted by Fashion Revolution India into the gender dimensions of cotton farming in India will feed into Fashion Revolution’s wider global policy advocacy strategy going forward. Gender inequality and discrimination is an issue affecting countries, communities and workplaces all over the world in varied, complex and deeply important ways, and we are grateful that our team in India has embarked on this fascinating journey to understand more about how it affects women cotton farmers. As this paper will explain, women are rarely viewed as cotton farmers in India. However, nearly half those cultivating cotton in India are women. As a result, issues facing them are rarely discussed. We hope that these insights and recommendations prove useful not just to the Fashion Revolution global community and British Council but also to the wider Indian and global fashion and textiles industry. Sarah Ditty Policy Director, Fashion Revolution, Global Coordination Team





Sustainability is fundamentally about maintaining life on earth and the ecosystems required to support it. In simplest terms, sustainability is about our children and our 1 grandchildren, and the world we will leave them


Agriculture producer / cultivator who owns the land


Cultivators do not own land however can be the lessee, share cropper, tenant, etc


Agricultural productivity is the term given to the output of agriculture in terms of the inputs such as the capital and labour

GM Cotton

Genetically Modified Cotton. Bt (Bacillus thuringiensis) cotton is the only GM crop allowed in India currently

Climate Change

Climate change is any significant long-term change in the expected patterns of average weather of a region (or the whole Earth) over a significant period

Financial Inclusion

Financial Inclusion signifies that even the most vulnerable and marginalized groups of people have access to Institutional financial products and services at an affordable and reasonable cost in a fair and transparent manner

Below Poverty Line

Below Poverty Line is an economic benchmark used by the government to specify what constitutes as economic disadvantage and help them distinguish persons and households that need government aid and assistance

Small Holding

An agricultural holding smaller than a farm


A means of securing the necessities of life

Self Help Groups

Self-Help Group (SHG) is a group of people who are arranged in a voluntary association for solving common problems through mutual help.






Scheme or Aim








ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS Thank you to each and every person that has contributed time and effort into adding value to our cotton policy dialogue. We have evolved the dialogue vastly as we dug deeper into the subject to carve our particular area of focus. We hope that our subject will further spotlight gender dimensions in cotton farming and be part of wider national and global policy dialogues. As much as we hope that we have included you all, there wouldn’t be enough pages to list the vast amounts of people that we spoke to as we started our work. A collective thank you to those not mentioned. This is for the farmers and our environment, our people and our planet. We are by no means experts on the subject but we are certainly esteemed collaborators and story tellers that generate an apt dialogue. We hope that our contribution to the subject of cotton policy dialogue makes some positive change somewhere and we thank the experts we worked with. Fashion Revolution India couldn’t have researched, documented and delivered this project without the support from the British council which has enabled and empowered our process of development. We would like to thank the British Council and in particular Kendall Robbins for her continuous encouragement and belief in our team. Helen Sylvester, Mahesh Jai Singhani, Komal Shah and Rheann D’Souza from British Council India, a huge thank you, it’s always a pleasure to work with you. Ministry of New in Mumbai we thank you and your team for hosting our first event on the subject in your incredible building and for using your facilities. Joss Whipple, Fashion Revolution for her mentorship and deep knowledge about the subject of cotton and farming, her steering us meant that we had a deeper focus in our dialogue - for that we are ever grateful. Shruti Singh for her commitment and deep dive into the subject, steering our policy dialogue and writing our report. Rini Bankhwal for her strength in orchestrating a great event and mobilising key people to be part of our dialogue. Thasneem Masood, Pooja Gupta, Darshana Gajare for their contribution and energy as we embarked on this project. Abhishek Jani and Devina Singh, Fairtrade India for always giving us knowledge and support as and when required. Navdeep Sodhi and of course Vinayak Rao from Gherzi for always providing us with textile knowledge and advise. Collaboration is key to the success of Fashion Revolution and we rely on partnerships and open dialogues to continue to do our work. We are grateful to Gijs Spoor for his time, effort and contribution as we researched the subject. Theresa Grantham for her inputs. Amit Shah from Spectrum for his insight and contribution as we kickstarted our dialogue. Raj Janagam from the Surge Impact foundation for connecting us to projects and persons on ground as well as facts, figures and knowledge that we very much needed. Deepshka Khanna from Good Earth Sustain for her knowledge and contribution. Deepika Prabhu from My Peepul and Sri for their continued support. Karan Kumar and Somatish Banerji from Intellecap for aligning their experts and knowledge with us as key advisers on this project. A huge thank you to all of them. Aliya Curmally for always strategically advising us. Sarah Ditty and Siena Somers - Fashion Revolution for their presence with us in India and walking with us from start to finish. Orsola De Castro and Carrie Somers for being inspiring leaders. Most of all a huge thank you and salute to all the people who work in the cotton industry and root for a systematic positive change. To the academics and campaigners that have dedicated their lives to create more knowledge about the cotton supply chain without whom we wouldn’t have been able to research or develop our dialogue with substance. We hope that we spark an interesting dialogue on cotton farming, cultivation, sustainability and the disparity between men and women in this field. Our dialogue is but a seed in the field of work on cotton that is already generated around the world. We hope that our research weaves inspiration and knowledge for deeper dialogues on the subject and we thank you for the time invested in reading our contribution. Sincerest wishes For and on behalf of all of us at Fashion Revolution India, Suki Dusanj-Lenz Country Head Fashion Revolution (India)


EXECUTIVE SUMMARY Women makeup majority of the cotton farming workforce in India. While their contribution to the cotton cultivation process is integral to the cotton value chain, their importance as stakeholders is undervalued. It is believed that unlocking the potential of women farmers and supporting them with requisite knowledge, skills and targeted farm related interventions will help optimize value of yield, promote cotton sustainability and minimize economic risks for various stakeholders that depend on cotton cultivation. Any positive impact on women’s lives has a ripple effect on their households and communities. This study and policy dialogue with stakeholders explored the roles, challenges and opportunities for women farmers to understand whether gender equality and equity can be a key component in making cotton farming process more sustainable economically, socially and environmentally. The gendered analysis of cotton farmers has shed light on several important issues and highlight why it is important to actively engage with women farmers to solve the sustainability crisis in cotton farming. Key insights from the study A. Women farmers play a key role in the cotton farming but do not have land rights and their labor is not recognized formally. This prevents them from accessing benefits and aids Government has allocated for farmers. B. Although women put in the same number of hours on the field and spend more number of days than men on cotton cultivation, they are perceived to be doing ‘lighter’ work and are not considered as important stakeholders. They are additionally also primarily responsible for household chores and family care. C. Women farmers lack decision-making power on key decisions regarding the crops. This is due to patriarchal mindsets, lack of education, and absence of exposure to market facing roles. D. The tasks that women are responsible for on the field have direct bearing on the output of the crop in terms of quantity and quality produced. E. Access to financial resources, products and services can enable women to take a greater role in decision-making. F. Women Self Help Groups have great potential of being leveraged to deliver trainings, share information on sustainable practices and government schemes, and to access financial support. G. A strong case can be made that improving women farmers conditions would lead to holistic positive outcomes on economic, social and environmental fronts. H. To solve the challenges faced by women farmers, government needs to take a tailored approach and understand the underlying issues. Considering the challenges women face and their potential to contribute to economic, social and environmental sustainability of the cotton crop production, the following broad areas of policy interventions were identified during the policy dialogue. These were further developed into actionable policy recommendations. × Women farmer recognition and inclusivity in Policies and decision-making forums × Improve women farmers access to financial institutions and financial literacy × Capacity building and training of women farmers × Develop alternate livelihoods and income opportunities for women farmers × Build sustainable partnerships to achieve gender-equity in cotton farming




Image Credit: Feminism in India, 15th March 2018

On 30th November 2018, more than 1,00,000 farmers, men and women, marched to the Parliament from all over the country to demand policy-makers to focus on the agrarian crisis.2 3

The agriculture sector accounts for 15.87% of Indian GDP and employs 50% of India’s total workforce.4 67% of the population relies on agriculture field for their livelihoods.5 Yet this sector faces several issues that seek immediate focus to stop this sector from spiraling into an ending crisis. Lack of economic stability, inconsistent rainfall, bleak outlook for future and support social issues is deepening the crisis farmers are facing today and are tying them in a cycle of poverty. 76% farmers are keen on leaving farming as it does not provide a sustainable source of income for the farming families.6 45 farmers commit suicide every day in India due to financial stress and indebtedness. 87.5% of farmer suicides are reported from cotton-growing states.7 Around 15% of this number includes women farmers.8


“The sad part is that women farmer suicides are under-represented in the Government statistics as women are not recognized as farmers because land is owned by or leased to men. It is high time that women who put in so much work in farm are recognized as farmers and as an important stakeholder” - Gender equality activist (Interview) The present Government policies in India are built around land-owning farmers and do not recognize women as farmers. Women are considered as women cultivators working on farms as laborers. Deep-rooted gender discrimination within the Indian agriculture system prevents women from owning the land that they work on. Patriarchal systems do not allow women to inherit the land after their husbands’ deaths because land passed onto the male members of the family alone. Less than 8% of women farmers have 11 land owned in their names. This means that women cannot avail the benefits or schemes extended to male members of the farming community.

Cotton is one of the most important and commercial cash crops grown in India and accounts for 59% of raw material used in the textile industry. It supports livelihoods of 5.8 million cotton farmers and approximately 50 million workers in allied fields.9 Women significantly contribute to cotton farming and their roles have an impact on sustainability of cotton. However, women’s role as a farmer is often unacknowledged in many farming communities and they have less access to resources as compared to male farmers. According to UN's Food and Agriculture Organization, it is estimated that women having the same access to resources as With their labor not being formally recognized, glaring wage gap 10 men in the farming community can improve yields by 20-30%.


“It is important to recognize the 1.4 RESEARCH METHODOLOGY dignity of life and labour of women The study was conducted through the following primary secondary research methodologies: making fashion for you” – A Retailer (policy dialogue participant) between men and women, lack of land rights, education and training and sub-optimal working conditions, women face several challenges in the cotton farming sector in India. The problems faced by women have an impact on the overall performance of the crop (i.e. consistency of produce, quality of cotton, sustainability, environmental impact, water footprint of cotton among others) and on the entire cotton supply chain. Several participants of the policy dialogue believe that mainstreaming women in the cotton sector will play an important role in ensuring cotton production is economically, socially and environmentally more sustainable. This paper puts a deeper lens on role, challenges and opportunities of gender in bringing sustainability to cotton farming in India.

1.2 OBJECTIVES OF STUDY Through this research paper, we aim to


A. Review of literature and news related to gender, sustainability and cotton industry B. Personal interviews were conducted with stakeholders throughout the cotton supply chain. Stakeholders included cotton farmers, Agricultural research institutes and think tanks, government officials, textile mill owners, ginners, designers and brands, academics, and sustainability advocates. C. A Cotton Policy Dialogue discussion was organized on 21st February 2019 at Mumbai. 23 stakeholders engaged in a structured discussion on cotton issues and recommendations to alleviate the problems. Spot survey was conducted through live polling using the Mentimeter software. The participants included representatives from Fairtrade India, British Council, Surge Impact Foundation, Intellecap, IDH the Sustainable trade Initiative, brands working on cotton and sustainability, and students from several universities. Chatham house rules were applied to during the policy dialogue, which means that the information collected has been shared as quotes in the study, however their source has not been disclosed.

A. Understand the role of women in cotton farming and the challenges faced by them in achieving cotton farming sustainability B. Assess the impact of current farming practices on cotton sustainability C. Offer recommendations to address the problems and to leverage women’s role in optimizing value, promoting cotton sustainability and minimizing economic risks for various stakeholders that depend on cotton cultivation such as brands, designers, ginners, spinners, mills, traders etc.

1.3 SCOPE AND LIMITATIONS Government data is not segregated gender wise therefore there is lack of gender-based data on cotton cultivators at a pan India level. Additionally, the problems faced by women farmers are not specific to a single crop like cotton and not all data is segregated crop wise. Hence, data may contain the plight of all women farmers irrespective of the crop they produce. For the purpose of this report the data has been collated from various regional data, news reports and independent research studies.


2. BASELINE: COTTON FARMING IN INDIA Cotton accounts for nearly quarter of the world’s total fibre production 12 . India contributes 22% of the total global cotton production and has the largest cotton cultivation area (30% of 13 global cotton cultivation area). Cotton comprises of 59% of the raw 14 materials used in the Indian textile industry. Lately, cotton farming is becoming less profitable due to increasing cost of production as copared to the yield and decreasing price of 15 cotton. Cotton cultivation also has a very high environmental cost. 16 Nearly 20,000 litres of water is consumed in producing 1 kg of cotton and 2,720 litres to produce one cotton t-shirt.17 The economic, social and environmental unsustainability of cotton production has a ripple effect on the entire value chain.

2.1 COTTON VALUE CHAIN The cotton value chain starts from cotton farms and ends as fabric and garment products; from small scale farmers to mills to production houses to retail and finally to the consumer. When the product passes through various stakeholders in the supply chain, there is some value addition to the physical attribute of the product. The figure below illustrates the journey of cotton from Farm to Retail. SUPPLY CHAIN







Weavers and knitters In small scale units and large scale composite mills

Manufacturers, Export houses, Designers

Retailers, Brands, Consumers





Aggregators and Traders

Ginners and Ginning mills

Spinners and Spinning mills







Sowing, growing, irrigating, and picking cotton

Collect produce from small holding farmers and transport to Ginning mills

Cleaning and separating cotton from seeds


Seed cotton

Seed cotton

Raw cotton


Less than USD 0.32

USD 0.32





Knitting/ Weaving yarn into cotton fabric

Produce garments from cotton fabric (Fabric maybe dyed or printed)





USD 0.76

USD 1.32

USD 3.80

USD 25.00







Spinning raw cotton into yarn

Selling to consumer

Figure 1: Farm to Retail value chain18


2.2 STAKEHOLDERS Farmers to ginners, spinners, oil mills, weavers, knitters, fabric manufacturers, traders, designers, retailers, consumers, Cotton seed suppliers, agricultural tools manufacturers, pesticide and fertilizer manufacturing companies are also important stakeholders dependent on cotton supply chain. Both public and private players play an integral role in marketing, research and development, cotton certification, community development and

other support functions for the cotton farming community. Important government departments include Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers’ Welfare, Ministry of Textiles, Department of Agricultural Research and Education (DARE), Department of Agriculture, Cooperation & Farmers’ Welfare (DACF), National Cooperative Development Corporation (NCDC), Cotton Corporation of India (CCI), Agriculture Produce Marketing Committee (APMC), state marketing federations, among others.



• UN Bodies • Brands and retailers • Developement NGOs • Farming organizations • Advocates aon gender equality, labour

• Ministry of Agriculture and Farmer’s Welfare

• Ministry of Textiles • Ministry of Labour • State Government • Agriculture Prodcue and Marketing

rights, farmenr welfare.


• Think tanks & reserach institutes • Financial Insitutions • Certification agencies • Dondors and Investors • Social Entrepreneurs

• Department of Agricultural reserach and Education

• Department of Agriculture,Cooperation & Farmer’s welfare

ALLIED INDUSTRIES • Seed Suppliers • Seed Companies • Pesticide comapnies • Fertilizer Companies • Agriculture tools and machinery manufactures

• Oil Mills • Transportation Firms

CORE STAKEHOLDERS IN COTTON SUPPLY CHAIN • COTTON FARMERS AND CULTIVATORS • GINNERS/MILLS • SPINNERS/MILLS INDUSTRY ASSOCIATIONS • WEAVERS/KNITERS • Cotton Corporation of India (CCI) • TRADERS • State Marketing Federations • FABRIC PROCESSORS • Genetic Engineering and approval • RETAILERS committee (GEAC) • BRANDS/DESIGNERS • Central Institute of Cotton Research • ENTREPRENEURS (CICR) • CONSUMERS REGIONAL & LOCAL STAKEHOLERS • Panchayat (Local government) • Community leaders • WSHGs • Farming community groups • Grassroots NGOs • Cotton workers family members • Small businesses

Figure 2: Stakeholders in Cotton value chain in India


2.3 COTTON SUSTAINABILITY When we speak of sustainability, it is important to understand that it doesn’t refer to the environmental impact of cotton alone but on the overall sustainability of the value chain. During several discussions, one of the main frameworks for sustainability that was referred to was the UN Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs). UN SDGs were formulated at the United Nations Sustainable Development Summit on 25 September 2015. The world leaders adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which includes a set of 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). India has committed to work towards UN SDGs.

SDG 5: High number of women in cotton farming workforce need right to property, labour and decision-making for gender equity and equality

This paper explores cotton sustainability in farming through the UN SDG lens to understand the globally ideal standards of sustainability that should be a goal for cotton agricultural sector. Working with the vision of sustainable cotton in accordance with the UN SDGs, Cotton Policy Dialogue focused on understanding the bottlenecks in cotton sustainability in farming, their interlinks with gender and bringing out recommendations that help achieve economic, environmental and social sustainability in cotton value chain.

SDG 8: Women have the right to safe working environment, equal pay, job security, health benefits and financial stability and growth

SDG 12: Women farmers role is important for environment friendly farming practices, waste management, water footprint and sustainability. Figure 3: UN SDGs and Cotton sustainability

2.4 ROLE AND RESPONSIBILITIES OF “Women’s role has been shaped by the WOMEN IN COTTON CULTIVATION prevalent societal norms. They work on Women’s contribution to cotton cultivation is indispensable. One of farms and homes, while men are the biggest concerns shared by stakeholders was that while women execute a significant portion of the work in cotton farming, they have responsible for more-market facing a limited role in decision-making of crop and finances. Women farmers have limited access to training and capacity building roles like buying raw-materials, activities that can help optimize their productivity on the fields. Furthermore, they have the twin responsibility of balancing their transportation, and sales.” work on the farm and taking care of household tasks and children. – Agricultural Think Tank According to a report by IDH the Sustainable trade initiative, the tasks executed by women farmers have a direct co-relation with the They work on farms and homes, while men are responsible for 19 more-market facing roles like buying raw-materials, transportation, quantity and quality of cotton production. and sales.”


Women cotton farmers play a multi-dimensional role in their daily lives. They work on the fields discharging their agricultural tasks, take care of household chores, are responsible for childcare and also undertake allied activities such as livestock rearing. On the farm, women work as daily wage laborers and farm managers. Very few women work as cultivators on farms owned in 20 their own name. Women are primarily responsible for stubble picking, sowing, weeding, cotton picking and storage of cotton. Their tasks involve manual labor while the work that requires machinery is performed by male cultivators. While their work is considered to be ‘softer’ owing to lack of use of tools and machinery, it is 21 time-consuming and drudgery-prone. During an interview, a stakeholder from a think tank shared that “Women’s role has been shaped by the prevalent societal norms.

DIVISION OF LABOR Men are majorly involved in soil preparation, irrigation, pesticide application, purchase of raw materials and farm equipment, transportation and sale. Women participation is more in stubble picking, sowing, weeding, fertilizer application and cotton picking. Women spend more time on the fields (80-90% of farming days) as compared to men (10-20%). 22 They also spend equal number of hours per day as compared to men. Additionally, women perform household chores with little or no help from men. Despite these facts, the discrepancy in wage between women and men significant. Women get paid 50-75% of what men make per day. 23 13


3. CURRENT CHALLENGES FACED BY WOMEN AND THEIR IMPACT ON COTTON SUSTAINABILITY This problem tree explores the current challenges for women in cotton production and its impact on cotton farming sustainability. It highlights the connectedness of various issues and their deep-rooted impact of creating inter-generational issues like poverty and gender inequality.



Low Household income

Impact on Family

Unable to work

Low quality of crop

Environmental Impact

No Market facing roles

Health Issues

Low productivity

Unsustainable farming practices

Low Skills & confidence

Exposure to toxicity







Low empowerment in decision making

Do not have land rights

Not eligible for Government Schemes

Contracts biased towards men

Low mobility and time (dual responsibilty)

Wage gap

Women are not recognised as farmers

Drudgery prone tasks

Lack of political resolve

Lack of tools and technology

Low access to farmer organisations Lack of education and training

Lack of formal credit Men migrating to urban areas Lack of financial literacy

Absent labour rights

Gender discrimination and patriarchy

Limited source of income

Figure 4: Women cotton farmers’ problem tree (Indian context)




INR 218 compared to male counterparts who were earning INR 281 which is nearly 22% less. A stakeholder stated here that although the wage gap exists, it is witnessing a decreasing trend thus bringing in more parity.

While 70 percent of Indian farmers are women 24, when it comes to land ownership women own only 13 percent land as compared to An interviewee also shed light on the perceptions regarding nature 25 of work women do on the fields. He/she shared that women’s work men who own 87 percent. is considered to be ‘lighter’ or ‘softer’. Research supports this insight The discrimination against women farmers are supported by and a paper states that women’s contribution on the field is inheritance laws that deny women rights of inheritance of considered as ‘inferior’ as compared to men’s contribution due to 30 agricultural land under the pretext of fragmentation of land parcels. the prevalent notions of women as ‘home-makers’. A stakeholder The Muslim laws completely exonerate women from holding highlighted that it should not be forgotten that women have dual agricultural land. The Hindu personal law, though it allows for roles in most of the Indian households. They are expected to take agricultural land succession, is not followed by many states care of household tasks like cooking, cleaning and taking care of including Uttar Pradesh and women are still denied any agricultural children and elderly before leaving for the fields to work. However, land inheritance. Local traditions and customs among this is not compensated by any monetary benefits and women who communities also restrict women to hold agricultural land even work in their family fields are also not compensated when the law approves it. Hence, it is a huge battle for women to through pay. hold agricultural land and may even be ostracised to hold land 26 against all these restrictions. There are many case studies which quote that women manage the lands owned by their husbands in rural india while the husband is not engaged in any work in the fields and are living on the income earned by the women. An Oxfam report says that the largest state in India, Uttar Pradesh, has only 18% women ownership. A government stakeholder shared that although literacy is usually considered an important factor in gender discrimination, that seems unlikely as seen from state of Kerala where literacy of women is high however they still own only 14% of farming land. 27

B. WAGE GAP - GENDER PARITY IN TERMS OF PAY In the recent ILO report 2018-19 on Global wage, India has the highest gap among the 73 countries studied. The report says that on an average Indian women earn 34% less than men. The report mentions that Indian women engaged in hourly wages for labour are the most unequally paid group. 28 Agriculture industry is labour intensive and as per statistical data, almost 84% of rural women are engaged in agriculture for livelihood. While 37% of women are cultivators, a majority which is almost 50% of rural women are labourers.

C. FINANCIAL INCLUSION - LACK OF FORMAL CREDIT Women, though are considerable in number in the cotton farming, lack access to formal credit systems due to very low percentage of ownership of land. The number of women farmers taking their life due to credit burden is also considerable. As per a 2014 data available on National Crimes Records Bureau (NCRB), there were 441 women farmers and 577 women agriculture laborers committed suicide.31

Business standard article quoted that ‘Women farmers contribute 60-70% of the total crop production but less than two per cent of 32 In cotton cultivation, which is labour intensive, the share of women them have access to credit and agricultural training programs’. labourers is around 46.84% and with this huge gender pay parity, many stakeholders agreed that women have not been given their Many stakeholders reasoned that the lack of access to formal credit fair due despite putting in equal work. The E Krishna Rao study also is attributed women’s’ lack of decision making ability in both states that while women cultivators have reduced from 385 to 224 production and sale of the cotton produce, lack of awareness of per thousand between the period 1971 to 1991, women laborers have financial products that can suit their needs and also not being increased from 391 to 603 during the same period. This is a clear aware of the various government schemes designed to help the indication that the number of women are exploited are increasing cotton farmers financially. Other area where they lack information and hence the situation is worsening as the years pass by when it about the government sponsored crop insurance schemes available for the small farmers to fight the production risks. 33 had to be the other way. Another statistic released by the Directorate of Economics and A grassroots stakeholder shared that in his/her experience, women Statistics, Government of India indicates that though the labour cost are relegated to the fringes of social and economic development due to lack of access to formal financial products thereby losing has increased, women agriculture labour has been earning 16

out on opportunities to better their livelihoods. Banks in rural areas are located in hub villages and cater to the group of villages “The role of gender is highly surrounding the hub. Lack of mobility and loss of income due to underrated in getting more output travel time is also a factor discouraging women to travel to far and value. When women are places to avail banking services. Women have to travel miles and also face loss of income for a day to access basic banking services. trained well and are taught good An interviewee shared that bringing banking services to door step techniques, they are able to through kiosks, for the focus group women, the cotton farmers improve the crop output could understand and access the financial products and their benefits. significantly” In some cases where women have knowledge of the formal - A researcher (interviewee) financial products, they still do not get the opportunity to get trained in using these strategies as compared to men who are decision makers on livelihoods. A stakeholder shared that absence of women from commercial transactions of the crop and financial institutions F. SOURCES OF INCOME adds to their lack acknowledgment in the value chain. Stakeholders Work in cotton farming is highly seasonal and income is agreed that this adds to the marginalisation of women cotton inconsistent throughout the year. 85% of the household income farmers who already are not part of the cotton value chain and 36 comes from cotton farming. Some farmers produce other crops to governance. boost their income. Non-farming activities are also performed to diversify income. To supplement farming income, women take care D. PRODUCTIVITY AND PROFITABILITY ISSUES of livestock and do poultry faming from home. A stakeholder from government shared that there is a need to diversify income sources Cotton farmers have small holdings and most live below the poverty and reduce risk from dependency on cotton farming alone. Several line. They depend on aggregators, middlemen and ginners to buy stakeholders expressed that alternate livelihoods are an area where their produce, which is mostly sold at below the price it was a lot of creative interventions between public, private and civil produced. Input costs have increased over the years while yield has society players can be explored. reduces due to several factors. Farmers have also taken on loans to purchase expensive seeds and raw materials with the hope that it would improve their earnings. As they do not make profit on their yield, they live in great indebtedness and are unable to improve their livelihoods. Cost of raw cotton is approximately 10% of the retail 34 product price while retailers make 50%. A stakeholder stated that “farmers consider high input cost as directly linked to high output price, whereas that may not be true. This drives their decision making of raw materials and impacts their profitability from produce.” Therefore, a case can be made for a fairer division of price of cotton throughout the cotton value chain. Another stakeholder brought up the link between gender, productivity and profitability of the crop by stating that “the role of gender is highly underrated in getting more output and value. When women are trained well and are taught good techniques, they are able to improve the crop output significantly”.

E. RURAL OUTMIGRATION Due to lack of economic viability and profitability in farming, men migrate to urban areas in search of better livelihood opportunities and food security. This leaves women to take care of tasks on the farms and spearheading the households. It is seen that the difference between male led and female led households’ average 35 monthly income is USD 26.73 and USD 16.48 , making male led households income 62.2% more than female led households.





Women, though contribute in their family fields by pitching in as manual labour, do not have any role to play in major decision making like the type of seeds and crop, technology and price or sale of yield. 42 This is attributed to existing patriarchal social norms, limited access to knowledge and skills, and lack of participation in market- facing roles. It also explains why when 90% of women work on someone’s field and only 10% of women own some amount of 43 land in India. Due to this reason, women’s voices are less heard in all major policy decisions including government schemes.

To quote a UN report, “If given proper rights and land share, women can control additional income and spend more of it than men do on food, health, clothing and education for their, thus helping in tackling poverty.” 37 Social norms influence the way women interact with the agricultural ecosystem. Women are engaged in all levels of activity including seeding, ploughing with tractors, weeding and harvesting. However, as per a study conducted by Cortiva Agriscience, 78% of Indian women face gender discrimination and only 38% perceive that they are empowered to take decisions regarding farming.38

Since women are not primary decision makers they do not have a say on what education they get and what work they want to do because of which they are less able to shift easily to other higher skilled jobs and hence become dependent on agriculture and on its stable growth for survival. This is also one of the primary reasons for the declining number of women cultivators and increase in women labourers in cotton farming. Additionally, women do not have much say as to how their earnings are spent and hence cannot spent on their wellness or upskilling.

There are other unscientific practices which occur in some of the states in India which are used for discriminating women for many decades. A stakeholder shared a widespread belief that he/she witnessed in northern India. It is a common belief that if a woman ploughs the field that there will be a drought in that village. Another stakeholder shared a bizarre belief in states like Uttar Pradesh and C. LOW MOBILITY AND TIME Bihar is that if there is a drought condition then women should 39 Social norms and dual responsibility of farm and home limit plough the fields during the night stark naked. women’s movement geographically and the work takes up their In almost all narratives about the plight of Indian farmers, which entire day. Women in rural households are faced with limited range from news clips to visuals, women never feature and issues economic freedom and are usually escorted by male members of affecting them are seldom discussed. It is also to note that women their family to travel to places which offer better skilling, training and lack self-confidence and positive outlook due to this discrimination. market-facing opportunities. Women from rural areas are not Research indicates that when a three-fold approach of addressing confident enough to navigate the world due to lack of safe and social discrimination, developing self-confidence and training convenient public transport. Procuring their own mode of transport 40 like two wheelers or bikes is again linked to their wages which are leads to greater empowerment. still lower than their male counterparts. Lack of mobility leads to ignorance of many government initiated schemes work to improve As per a 2011 study by the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), the productivity and quality of cotton produced. Thus, this if women have equitable access in terms of land, credit and knowledge seldom reaches women who form a major part of the technical know-how there would be 2.5% increase in agricultural workforce and reduces the yield and efficiency. production in the entire developing world. It is believed that it would 41 positively impact 12 – 17% of world’s hungry people. This will further Women also find it difficult to explore new markets for their cotton enhance household incomes, food security, living standards and produce and hence are more vulnerable to price volatility. This economic stability. leads to the exploitation of the labour and underpays their effort thereby not only affecting their well-being but of their families, A stakeholder stated that “The improvements in gender equality community and society at large.44 sometimes are accompanied by unforeseen challenges, therefore deeper solutions need to be sought to ensure the changes are Lack of mobility also means that women have less opportunity to sustainable.” He/she shared a case in a village in South India where look out for high paying jobs and hence when men of their women farmers were taught how to catch fish from a lake as household go out of the village for better job, women are expected means of additional income. Their involvement in this project made to meet the day to day expenses of the household.45 These women some men in the village upset as they felt it is an inappropriate job are then forced to work in their own villages for a lesser wage. Most for women. The women faced backlash and the lake was poisoned, of the jobs offered to them are physical labour intensive and they making it unviable to catch fish anymore. It took many years to are paid by piecework, meaning they will be paid by the quantity of completely clear the lake of poison and revive its ecosystem. cotton they pick.46


D. LOW ACCESS TO EDUCATION, KNOWLEDGE AND TRAINING Governed by social norm of patriarchy, women and girls are relegated to work available around the household vicinity. This means that they get limited opportunities for exploring skill development. Most of the women engaged in cotton farming are uneducated as they are groomed from early childhood to take on household work and do menial labour work while men are encouraged to go outside of their villages to explore opportunities. The lack of avenues for education and skills are supported by The EU India FTA study on ‘Agriculture and Likely Impact on Indian Women’ which indicates that 52-75 % of women engaged in agriculture lack basic literacy.47 According to a survey conducted by Sattva consulting, less than 48

33% women attended any training in the previous 2 years. The main reasons cited for women farmer’s lack of knowledge and skills is their lack of mobility, time and opportunity. According to Cotton Connect report, 4% women farmers have joined training programs 49

for learning agricultural techniques. More than 50% of women surveyed in a study conducted by Corteva Agriscience, claimed that they need to be part of training to take advantage of agricultural advancement which has now become crucial for both financial 50

success and to ensure environmental sustainability.

This has been attributed to lack of time, mobility, information, distance of training centers and lack of women trainers. It has been seen that the women who took training were able to identify ways to reduce their input cost, had better understanding of application of pesticides and had more confidence on their farming techniques.


E. LACK OF ACCESS TO TECHNOLOGY Participants also explored the role of technology with respect to women farmers. There is a technology gap among men and women with many women not possessing smartphones compared to their male counterparts. The reason is partly affordability and partly lack of knowledge of using the phone. A study by Cotton Connect shows that technology can help women to get training from the comfort of their home. The study also showed that women are open to the idea of receiving technical guidance and support through mobile technology. However, the focus group study showed that while 56% of farmers had smartphones, only 10% were women cotton farmers. Additionally, 25% of these women knew how to operate the internet on their mobile. However, 100% of the women in the focus group are aware of the importance of technology in the cotton production and sustainability while only 87% of the total 52

farmers were aware of this fact.


F. LABOR RIGHTS The labor laws are well defined in formal sector and their implementation is more transparent and well audited. However, with the sheer number of employers and employees in unorganised sector, proper implementation and monitoring of labor laws is always a challenge. The minimum wage for agriculture laborers was doubled in March 2017 by which unskilled laborers need to be paid at least “Rs 300 per day in C-category towns as against Rs 160 while those in B and A category towns will get Rs 303 and Rs 333 respectively”.


However, an interviewee shared that minimum wage is not paid by all employers there is also a considerable difference in wage pay for both men and women. Cases where both husband and wife go to farm and work on the same job for equal time are paid differential payments and the pay is lesser for women. This might only change when women contribution in cotton farming is acknowledged and 54

made part of policies. Considering the fact that women labourers form 70% during cotton planting and 90% during cotton picking period, this is indeed a sad state of affairs. 55 Additionally, women cultivators are not covered by any insurance which are gender specific and not provided any maternity benefits. Thus, they continue to be exploited with impunity.


G. ACCESS TO FARMER COMMUNITY ORGANIZATIONS AND SHGS There are community organizations such as Farmer Producer Groups (FPO) and Self Help Groups (SHG) for farmers. Research 57

indicates that 50% women are part of SHGs 7.7% part of FPOs. It has been seen that organizing women farmers into community groups benefits women as there is improved information sharing, decision making and gender equity in agriculture.58 Considering the impact of such organizations, women’s participation should be increased.


3.3 HEALTH AND SAFETY A. DRUDGERY PRONE TASKS – LACK OF TOOLS AND TECHNOLOGY Lack of women centric policies for farming community brings challenges on the health, safety and working conditions aspects. Cotton picking activity done mostly by women is a physically intensive activity. Cotton picked by women is generally tied behind their back using the loose end of the clothing they wear. This adds strain on their backs, neck and head.

A vast majority of women, especially those from poor families, with no agency and no education, are forced to make choices that have long-term and irreversible impacts on their health and their lives.” 61

Due to lack of proper tools and equipment to reduce the drudgery and limited training on best practices to perform their designated tasks, the health and safety of tasks performed by women is compromised. In comparison, men take up more mechanical jobs that are physically less demanding. Having proper tools and access to technology would help efficiency on farms, crop productivity and women’s health.




Due to long hours working on the fields women are exposed to cotton dust, toxic fertilizers and pesticides. This is known to cause dizziness, nausea and skin problems and can cause harm to pregnancy and fertility. Studies attribute long duration of exposure with loss of mental wellbeing. Women’s decline in health reduces the overall well-being of the family and results in low productivity on the work-front.

C. HEALTH RIGHTS BASED GENDER DISCRIMINATION Many women work as labour on farms and receive daily wages for their work. They do not get compensated if they take leave during their menstrual cycle or illness and for most poverty-stricken families loss of daily wage impacts their family earnings significantly. In light of this, women often ignore their health issues and do not take a rest when they need it. A cotton farmer shared that this has also led to reluctance in hiring menstruating women to avoid loss of work delivery in the farms. In Sugarcane community, this discrimination is systemic as loss of work for a day also attracts fines.59 Contractors encourage women to get a hysterectomy surgery and provide them with initial capital a surgery which is recovered from 60 their wages’. “The systemic nature of oppression at the hands of the contractors, clubbed with acute poverty and stigma makes the women’s bodies a site of exploitative politics, with the surgeries adversely impacting 62 the bodies, mental health and hormonal balance of the women.” Although there is no data on women in the cotton farming community being subjected to forced hysterectomies, the reports of sugarcane farming communities are disturbing and highlight the importance and necessity of recognising health rights of women in farming communities. 21


There is widespread discussion on impact of the GM seeds in the long run on the environment and biodiversity. Policy dialogue Environmental sustainability of cotton production through participants had different opinions on interconnectedness of GM traditional methods are now considered bleak and conventional seeds and farmer indebtedness. production methods are considered damaging to the ecosystem. An interviewee stated that women impact the sustainability of While these questions of environmental sustainability of cotton cotton and are also the key to solving this challenge. Women’s key production looms over, governments and NGOs are looking for ways responsibility areas in cotton farming include direct and indirect to help make it sustainable by introducing new techniques and dissipating relevant information. However, the women farmers who challenges as well as opportunities for targeted interventions. are dominant in the cotton production process are hardly included in the knowledge sharing exercise thereby leading to dilution of the A. WATER FOOTPRINT MANAGEMENT efforts. Unless women form core part of these initiatives, Cotton is the thirstiest crop and its production accounts for 2.6% of sustainability of cotton production will remain a big challenge. global water use.63 The dependency of cotton production on vast amounts of water is another concern for sustainability. It is noted that around 2720 litres of water is used for making a t-shirt and 64 around 10,850 litres of water to make a pair of jeans. It takes approximately 10,000 litres of water to produce 1 kg cotton 65 depending on where and how it is grown. According to Water Footprint Network, it takes 22,500 litres of water to produce 1 kg of 66 cotton. This water footprint is massive considering over 100 million people do not have access to water in India. Water management in cotton is key – ‘it should be socially equitable, environmentally 67 sustainable and economically beneficial’.




15% of the global production of cotton is prone to destruction by pests.71 According to a 2013 report by WWF, cotton farming utilizes more than 50% of total amount of pesticide used in the agricultural 72 sector in India. These chemicals are harmful for the environment and for farmers’ health. Women work for longer hours on the field as compared to men. However, they are not actively involved in pest management. Their role in pest management and increased knowledge on the subject would help them handle the pest issues Lack of awareness of using the right kind of irrigation method leads proactively. This would also reduce the current overuse of pesticides to either depletion of local water bodies and groundwater or lead to on the fields. run-off of pesticides and chemicals into water bodies thereby polluting them. Agricultural usage of water significantly exceeds the Women lack training on effective techniques in sowing, weeding, 68 replenishment of groundwater reducing water levels in 58% of fertilizer application and storage. Not ensuring correct techniques 69 wells in North India. A stakeholder shared that another concern is for sowing can impact the yield as it causes emergence problems. the disposal of waste into natural water bodies without treating Improper weeding can make the cotton bolls moist and can reduce the nutrients that the crop receives. If the fertilizer is not applied in them beforehand. 73 time, it can reduce the yield by upto 40%.


Women’s role has a significant impact on the cotton yield and The dependency of cotton as a crop on water to such a great extent environment management, thus gender should be in focus of makes the yields highly vulnerable to climate change. Climate interventions to improve cotton sustainability. change across the globe is bringing in unprecedented temperatures, flooding or drought. A stakeholder shared that cotton farmers cannot take the hit in earnings due to their insignificant role in the value chain. Another participant added that the middle men, aggregators or ginners have more say in the pricing than the farmers producing the crop. This leads to uncertainty in the livelihood of the farmers.

C. GM COTTON The Indian cotton farmers are also getting into high debt owing to the usage of GM seeds. The seeds costs are high and farmers need to buy them every year in fear of losing out on the yields. This puts them in a cycle of loans and indebtedness. Farmer suicides are 70 linked to the high cost of GM seeds and pesticides and fertilizers. 22


local levels, there are issues of alignment in political willingness,


also prevalent in the agriculture sector.

Policy dialogue participants agreed that there is an urgent need to recognise women farmers as ‘farmers’ instead of ‘cultivators’. The government currently identifies women farmers as cultivators through the census data system. However women farmers, meaning women who own the land and not just cultivates a piece of land owned by others, are demanding to be recognised as one. The call for this recognition is because only farmers are eligible for various government support schemes and subsidies. Lack of this basic right is denying women farmers what is rightfully theirs. This is also marginalizing them and denying them an active role in the cotton value chain. 74

To address the various inequality that women farmers face in cotton

consensus on policies and on execution front. Similar issues are

farming, we need a strong political resolve. The Women Farmers Entitlement Bill which got proposed in 2011 got lapsed in 2013 due to lack of political will and support. This lack of resolve to empower women farmers is quite contrary to the fact that the Indian political system empowers women by reserving one third of the seats in village panchayats for women. However, this political willingness has not translated to empowering women farmers in the country.

B. ACCESS TO GOVERNMENT SCHEMES As women are a marginalized stakeholder in the farming communities, the Government interventions are neither targeted towards them nor tailored to their needs. Almost 85% women farmers have never accessed any Government schemes targeted towards farmers and they do not have any knowledge of government policies. Out of the surveyed women farmers, only 11% 75 women had accessed Government schemes. A stakeholder shared that “even when women are aware of the policies, they are unable to avail the benefits as process is cumbersome, requires time and travelling which they do not have time to do.” In many cases, the government compensates families of male farmers who have committed suicide. The family of women farmers who have committed suicide due to farming distress are not considered for any compensation and they are pushed further down 76 the poverty trap.

“Even when women are aware of the policies, they are unable to avail the benefits as process is cumbersome, requires time and travelling which they do not have time to do.” – Policy Dialogue participant C. POLITICAL WILLINGNESS AND CONSENSUS India’s political landscape is defined by the three-tier level of governance structure – national, state and local levels. Government officials in all these tiers are elected by the people directly. In case of different political parties at national, state and 23



that ‘at times cotton changes six hands before it reaches the mandis or the money lenders buy the cotton from farmer at rates much lower than MSP because the farmer has no idea about MSP or

Policy dialogue participants shared several policies and how to access it’. government interventions for farmers, which have been discussed

below. Policies are generally formulated keeping the male farmer New initiatives undertaken by Government on MSP: needs in mind. Most policies are neither made keeping female • Government has introduced direct online payment of entire

farmers in mind and nor are targeted towards them. A stakeholder amount into bank accounts of cotton farmers to avoid middlemen shared that although women have long been marginalized in and to make sure that farmers receive full benefit.

government schemes, there are initiatives undertaken in recent • A mobile app has been introduced called the ‘Cott-Ally’ which past to correct this. Another stakeholder disagreed stating that such informs the farmers about new schemss and policies on MSP and 79 policies are yet to make desired impact and need better other cotton related information.




Loan waivers are an intervention to alleviate the burden of debt on

Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY) was formulated to the farmers. In 2017, Maharashtra government gave loan waivers of 80 improve on the earlier crop insurance policies. In order to scale 34,000 crores, which benefitted 3.1 million farmers. A stakeholder commercially, farmers need more insurance as their credit needs shared that loan waivers maybe temporarily beneficial for the rise. However, farmers with small holdings are unable to avail credit farmer distress, however is not a very good policy in the long run. from financial institutions as these farmers repeatedly have Farmers build a habit of receiving loan waivers and at times do not defaulted due to failure of crops. Moneylenders also do not extent spend money judiciously. credit line to such farmers thus making it extremely difficult for farmers to get out of the poverty burden cycle. PMFBY helps farmers produce their crop sustainably by supporting them with financial benefit in case of loss or damage of crop.

B. MINIMUM SUPPORT PRICE (MSP) MSP is a Government scheme to support farmers against sharp decline in crop prices, market fluctuations and imperfect markets.


Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices recommends the minimum support price ahead of the sowing season according to type of crop. This is the price that is assured to the farmer for his/her produce thus encouraging them to invest in crop production. MSP for medium staple and long staple cotton has been increased by Rs. 105 per quintal and Rs. 100 per quintal respectively in 2019 -20 year.


A stakeholder mentioned that although prices get revised every year and consider the cost of production and inflation percentage, ‘there is a distance between the cup and the lip’. Another stakeholder supported that by raising concerns on the leakages in dispensing MSP through the industry route. He/she further shared 24

WOMEN FOCUSED POLICIES D. WOMEN SELF-HELP GROUPS (WSHGS) WSHGs are informal associations of women that help women access formal financial institutions and government schemes. Deendayal Antyodaya Yojana – National Rural Livelihood Mission (DAY-NRLM) scheme has 5 million WSHGs under it and targets 81

almost 50 million women. These groups have helped women access loans and financial credit. Civil societies work with WSHGs to introduce interventions around training, capacity building and promoting technology.

E. KRISHI VIGYAN KENDRA (AGRICULTURAL SCIENCE CENTRES) These centres are planning to introduce an awareness campaign for women farmers. They aim to empower farmers and help remove biases towards women’s role in farming. 82

F. WOMEN FARMERS’ EMPOWERMENT POLICY OR MAHILA KISAN SASHAKTIKARAN PRAYOJANA (MKSP) MKSP a policy formulated under the Deendayal Antyodaya Yojana – National Rural Livelihood Mission (DAY-NRLM) that is specifically targeted towards women farmers. It is aimed promoting organic farming through self-help groups. The idea is to organize 1 women per household into such a self-help group. 57,270 women farmers have registered under this initiative.


G. NATIONAL WOMEN FARMER’S DAY OR RASHTRIYA MAHILA KISAN DIWAS (RMKD) RMKD is celebrated on the 15th October every year to give recognition to women’s contribution to farming. This was initiated in 2017.

H. WOMEN FARMERS’ ENTITLEMENT BILL, 2011 This bill was presented in Parliament in May 2012. MS Swaminathan, an agricultural scientist, had introduced this bill in the Parliament. It was lapsed due to political willingness. In the recent Kisan March, there was a demand for re-introduction of this bill. This bill spoke about issuing ‘Kisan credit cards’ to women for ensuring their financial freedom and access to resources.





policy awareness drives a key component in their initiatives.

The following policy gaps were observed by interviewees and policy


dialogue participants:


Although a lot of innovation and technology disruption has

A. DEFINITION OF FARMERS IN GOVERNMENT happened in farming, the impact of these are in silos. Scaling up of such innovation and technology and ensuring its reach to the POLICIES As discussed earlier, the definition of farmer in Government remotest farmer villages can be accelerated through Government schemes is for people who own farm land. Due to social norms and policies and private public partnerships. Such an effort is limited patriarchal systems, women do not have land deeds or leases in currently. their names. This prevents them from availing benefits of many

G. LACK OF ECOSYSTEM TO amongst participants that filling this gap should be a priority for the AGRI-ENTREPRENEURS AND MSMES Government schemes for farmers. There was a consensus


Entrepreneurs and MSMEs are working with farming communities to


build solutions that have positive impact. They are enablers in this


ecosystem and there is a need for structural reforms in this aspect

Policy benefits are mostly availed by farmers who have a large to provide support on financial resources, human capital and landholding. Farmers with small land holding use the monetary encouraging Government schemes. benefits extended by Government for their personal consumption and thus are not able to put in money to improve their farm produce. Farmers with large land holding receive more benefit from the banks and are able to put aside money to build capacity and invest in tools and machinery to improve their land’s productivity. Research suggests that only 14% of marginal and 27% of small holdings were able to get credit from institutional sources whereas about 33% of medium and 29% of large farmers could avail 85

institutional credit in India.

C. LACK OF KNOWLEDGE OF POLICIES Farmers are unaware about the Government benefits and schemes which are rolled out for them. A survey conducted by The Centre for the Study of Developing Societies (CSDS) indicated that 70% farmers had never heard of Government direct cash transfer scheme and 62% of farmers did not have knowledge of Minimum Support Price (MSP). Amongst those who were aware of this policy, 64% did not find the price offered by the Government to be satisfactory. 86

D. LACK OF GENDER MAPPING IN AGRICULTURE Gender mapping in the Indian agricultural sector has not been conducted by the Government. Some independent organisations have done this exercise and have found that the women’s needs are different in various parts of the country. Policies need to be built considering women as an important stakeholder and based on data on ground.

E. LACK OF KNOWLEDGE ON FINANCIAL PRODUCTS Due to lack of mobility of women, their access and knowledge on financial products is limited. This constrains them from availing benefits of Government schemes. As most of the workforce is women, Government should make policy advocacy and women farmer 27

5. POLICY RECOMMENDATIONS Policy dialogue participants and interviews focused on discussing interventions that provide focus on gender issues and leverage women farmer’s role in improving financial, social and environmental sustainability of cotton. Stakeholders also discussed practices that can provide better livelihoods and working conditions for farmers, their families and communities.

shape and influence future policy interventions to be more gender inclusive. This recommendation is on the lines of Women in Panchayati Raj bill that reserves 33% of the seats in local body elections for women. This has helped bring women into the forefront of decision making.


D. WOMEN’S FARMER DAY should raise awareness about

and share stories of women farmers and their contribution to the nation-building. Government should reach out to stakeholders dependent on farming communities to use their platforms to Empowering women farmers by mainstreaming them in policies spread information about women farmers. Brand owners and related to cotton farming and improving the access to schemes retailers shared that they would urge their community to start a movement online and offline to use their influencer status to run and interventions campaigns and increase awareness about women farmers on this A. ENACTMENT OF “WOMEN FARMERS ENTITLEMENT day. BILL” will make farming an equitable industry by providing land rights to women farmers. This will give them the recognition as farmers, enabling them to access Government schemes and E. NATION-WIDE GENDER MAPPING IN COTTON policies intended towards farmers. FARMING should be undertaken by the Government to re-align their national policy and schemes towards gender needs and

B. RECOGNIZING WOMEN FARMERS AND CULTIVATORS: requirements. This data will help the Government make targeted

Acknowledge and issue identification cards for both women interventions instead of one-size fits all approach. This exercise can farmers and cultivators (who work in the agriculture land without be conducted by through existing State federations and grassroots owing the land) through the village panchayat. This will give Government networks. legitimacy to their status and will include them in formal agriculture sector to voice their opinions

F. PERIODIC STAKEHOLDER CONSULTATIONS THROUGH C. MANDATORY WOMEN REPRESENTATION IN COTTON THE WSHGS will help Government understand the impact of INDUSTRY BODIES like APMC, CCI, Cooperatives and Farmer’s current policies and crowdsource ideas for new policies and

Unions. This can be in the form of minimum quota or percentage of schemes through citizen engagement. This will help the women that should be part of these organizations and play key role Government take timely action to so course-correction and in raising their concerns on appropriate platforms. This will shape improve the outcomes of schemes.


G. BUILD GENDER INCLUSIVE INFRASTRUCTURE IN FARMS AND MARKETS: State Governments and Village Panchayats should make marketplaces and farms more inclusive towards women by providing basic physical infrastructure that supports women farmer needs. There is a need to build toilets, feeding place for nursing mothers, resting rooms to make agriculture market places gender inclusive. Making physical spaces inclusive is the first step to promote more participation of women. This needs to be enforced and monitored by Labour ministry.

H. REGULATE FARMER LABOUR CONTRACT to discourage intermediaries and contractors from taking undue advantage of lack of formal guidelines for farmer/cultivator contracts which impact women’s health negatively and create a hostile work environment. This should be backed by monitoring on ground and a system for raising complaints for violation of these rules.

I. GENDER SENSITIZATION DRIVES AMONGST FARMING COMMUNITIES will help both men and women understand the importance of strengthening and supporting the role women cultivators and famers. This will target the prevalent social norms that limit women’s participation and open dialogue for gender equity and equality. These workshops can be instrumental in creating a perception shift on how women’s role in farm directly links to productivity and supporting them makes social and economic sense. These awareness drives should be periodic and should be conducted through SHGs or village panchayats.

5.2 IMPROVE WOMEN FARMERS ACCESS TO FINANCIAL INSTITUTIONS AND FINANCIAL LITERACY Women farmers need to be empowered with knowledge and access of financial products and services. They should also be encouraged to take economically viable decisions on farm and household related matters through financial literacy programs.

C. Opening of BANKING KIOSKS FOR EVERY 100 FEMALE FARMERS to improve access to formal banking products at the doorstep of women farmers and cultivators. It will help in curbing exploitation of women through the high interest rate informal credit system. It will also ensure women use formal channels to save and build a credit profile.

D. LINK WOMEN TO MICRO-FINANCE INSTITUTIONS (MFIS) to raise awareness on available opportunities in loans and financial credit schemes and generate tailor-made options for women according to their needs. This can also be mapped to other

A. IMPLEMENTATION OF CENTRAL AGRICULTURAL DEVELOPMENT FUND FOR WOMEN FARMERS schemes such as health insurances, crop insurances etc. Women (CADFWF) under the “Women Farmers Entitlement Bill” includes can also be encourages to access these MFIs in groups to lower the provision for separate funds and budgets which work for the welfare of the women farmers in the country. This scheme’s implementation is the first step towards removing imbalances in terms of resource allocation and distribution faced by women farmers.

B. FINANCIAL LITERACY PROGRAMS would enable women to understand the agricultural process, functionality of financial institutions and impact of different financial schemes and policies. This would strengthen women’s position in decision making and would help them gain confidence on finance related matters in houses and farms. This should also include concepts on household budget management, loans, credit schemes, mobile wallets etc. These can be conducted through the WSHGs with the help of citizen led groups and civil societies.

risk and increase credit-taking capacity for women. This will improve the number of women who access financial products and services for cotton farming. It will also build women confidence as farmers and cultivators.

E. INCENTIVIZING WSHGS THROUGH PREFERENTIAL GROUP SCHEMES FOR WOMEN such as preferential price, subsidies or exclusive insurance programs for WSHG farmers. This will encourage and empower women to work in groups and they will help each other as a community for greater good. This will also encourage men to bring women in the forefront for receiving these policies. 29


As it can be seen from study, when women are trained in best practices for cotton cultivation, there is a direct impact on quality and quantity of cotton produced. Skilling on sowing, weeding, irrigation, cotton picking and choosing the right seeds, pesticides and fertilizers will improve overall output of the crop. This coupled with providing right tools and training women how to use those tools will benefit them immensely. This will further help in reduction of production costs. Women should also have knowledge on tasks that are generally done by men on the field.

To reduce the dependency on single source of income i.e. cotton farming, it is important to develop interventions that support alternate livelihoods. This will help improve financial situation of farmers and reduce the risk of indebtedness.

A. TRAINING WOMEN ON ALTERNATE SKILLS such as livestock management, poultry farming, watershed management, cotton storage, making compost from cow-dung, making organic pesticides and building new products which can be made from the

B. SOFT SKILLS BUILDING PROGRAMS are also comfort of their homes. These activities when done in groups rather important for women to complement their current role on the farm and help them perform marker-facing tasks. Skills such as communication, negotiation, and people management will help women become confident in trading, buying, selling, and decision-making. This will empower women to take up bigger roles in cotton farming outcomes.

than alone, scale the benefits that can be reaped. Government here can play the role of generating demand for these products and link market players to such collectives of women. Private companies can also train women to produce the products that are high in demand and also provide initial investment.

C. DIGITAL LITERACY is important skill that women farmer B. Textile companies, brands and garment manufacturers can need to be trained in. Most information is now available online and EMPLOY COTTON FARMERS IN OTHER PARTS OF even Government schemes leverage technology to communicate THE COTTON VALUE CHAIN. Women can be taught how to and interact with farmers. Teaching women how to access real-time information on smartphones, view videos or listen to farming news sew, embroider or create prints. This activity can be done through online and learn about new farming techniques will improve their WSHGs or through individual brand efforts. For example, Okhai knowledge on market. brand trains rural women in designing and embroidery skills, then provides raw materials to women with design guidelines. Women

D. WOMEN FARMER LEADERSHIP TRAINING follow those guidelines to produce the embroidery. The raw PROGRAMS should be conducted to build leadership capacities

materials delivery and collection is done by community leaders. in women. Community leaders who have knowledge and skills to help other women can be a driving force for the entire community’s Women are able to work from home when they have time and earn progress. They can bridge the gap for women who face mobility additional incomes. issues and help them stay integrated and updated with the farming community. These women can encourage more women to join training programs, take advantage of government extension services and take collective change on for betterment of community.

E. MOBILE TRAINING PROGRAM KIOSKS FOR EVERY 1000 WOMEN FARMERS should be setup by the Government in collaboration with private players or through CSR initiatives. These should be use to travel from one village to another to dispense all training programs on technology, financial literacy, and cultivation techniques for sustainable cotton. This solves the mobility and time issue of women and also ensures women across villages receive quality training through private player integration.

F. INCREASE NUMBER OF WOMEN TRAINERS for training programs. Due to social norms, women are more comfortable interacting with women and attending sessions undertaken by women. Government should focus on increasing women trainers. Community women leaders can also trained to deliver these workshops locally. 30

5.5 BUILD SUSTAINABLE PARTNERSHIPS TO ACHIEVE GENDER-EQUITY IN COTTON FARMING A. WOMEN SHGS have proven to be an important channel to deliver information, improve schemes accessibility and provide targeted interventions. WSHGs should be further strengthened to engage effectively with women farmers and to share information not just from Government to women farmers but also from grassroots to Government. These groups can be pivotal to all training programs mentioned above. This will help WSHGs become a one-stop forum to discuss and receive programs for all women’s requirements.

B. Government can provide additional incentivization for companies using their CORPORATE SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY FUNDS towards development of agricultural communities and gender empowerment in agriculture. This can be in the form of tax benefits or rebates.

C. GOVERNMENT SHOULD INVEST IN AND PROMOTE INNOVATIONS IN COTTON FARMING. There are many citizen led innovative practices and models that have a positive impact on ground. Many startups, entrepreneurs and MSMEs have built tools and products that help farmers cultivate cotton sustainably. As most farmers are women, they would benefit from access to such innovations. Government can be a nodal agency for identifying such innovations and scaling their impact on other regions. This help can be financial, administrative or in awareness

effort and awareness towards production. This can also be in the form of funds raised by women for interventions for women farmers.


F. Build innovative models of stakeholder integrations and D. PROMOTING GENDER-MADE PRODUCE to increase partnerships to incorporate FAIRER DISTRIBUTION OF awareness and sale across the supply chain. Government can PROFITS in cotton value chain not just to farmers but between issue social premium certification for cotton produced by women or men and women farmers as well. Building textile brands that are women groups. This will create awareness about women farmers owned by all people that were involved in building it and distributing among consumers and suppliers and encourage social premium. profits equitably amongst everyone can build stronger value chains. This certification can be displayed or printed on end-products. It will This maybe complicated to apply on cotton value chain distributed also bring a sense of pride amongst women farmers. A stakeholder across the country, however can have remarkable results in overall objected to this recommendation stating that this has negative development of marginalized stakeholders. externalities as it would work as reverse gender discrimination.

G. Collaboration amongst stakeholders to bring transparency in E. Leverage WOMEN FOR WOMEN EMOTIONAL AND the value chain. Most brands and retailers mentioned that they work FINANCIAL SOLIDARITY across the cotton value chain. Changing perspectives from product to person producing the

only with their suppliers and have no idea about the value chain

product can have significant impact on the suppliers and buyers. before that. Most mills work directly with aggregators and not with Women collaborating with women farmers, weavers, garment farmers. Thus, there is a need for greater awareness and workers among others can build a sense of togetherness and put a transparency when it comes to pricing, profits and procurement. face to the product or raw materials. This is based on a similar Government can build a TRANSPARENCY RATING SYSTEM strategy used by a South American coffee chain. It saw renewed for suppliers on their procurement practices. Brands and Retailers brand identity, and resulted in more sales, sense of responsibility,

can make informed decision based on the rating system. 31



a. Enactment of “Women Farmers Entitlement Bill”

b. Recognizing women farmers and cultivators


c. Mandatory Women representation in Cotton Industry bodies


Government of India (National level

Government of India (National and State level)

Enabling factors

Same as above

Government of India (National and State level), Industry bodies where 33% seats are reserved for women

d. Women’s farmer Day collaborative campaigns

e. Nation-wide gender mapping

Government of India (National and State level), WSHGs, Niti Aayog, Ministry of Statistics and Program Implementation


Government has stated that farmers’ welfare is priority and is planning Political will and to bring many changes potential backlash in agriculture from men

Government has brought similar provision in Panchayat elections

Government of India – Ministry of Textiles, Ministry of Agriculture and Farmer’s welfare, Social influencers, Brands, Social media companies


Technology and social media platforms Similar campaigns have been done by Ministry of Textiles to promote handloom

Technology and Increased focus on gender issue in farming

LONG-TERM Expected Outcomes Make farming gender inclusive and equitable Give due recognition to women farmers

Will give legitimacy to their farmer Political resolve, status and will institutional capacity include them in and potential formal agriculture backlash from men sector to voice their opinions

Cooperation from autonomous industry bodies and reluctance to change gender power dynamics

Women will get positions of power and authority, forums to discuss their problems and shape future policy interventions

Collaborating with multiple stakeholders to amplify the message

Women farmers get more visibility and brands get positive image

Budget constraints, Institutional capacity on ground.

Data collection on women and their needs

Government can seek help of private think tanks and CSR funds from corporates

Government will be able to make targeted interventions


SHORT-TERM Policy Area

Recommendations f. Periodic stakeholder consultations through the WSHGs


g. Build Gender inclusive infrastructure in farms and markets

h. Regulate farmer labour contract

i. Gender sensitization drives amongst farming communities


a. Implementation of Central Agricultural Development Fund for Women Farmers (CADFWF)


Women farmers, WSHGs, State Government and local bodies

State Governments, Panchayats, Farmer market Associations, Land owners, Labour ministry

Central Government, Labour ministry, Farmer associations, Land owners, Contractors

Enabling factors

Technology, presence of WSHGs

Already running and popular campaign Swachh Bharat Abhiyan to provide toilets Awareness, funding and Institutional capacity in place

Increased transparency in labour laws Human rights issue builds international pressure

Trainers/ experts, WSHGs, Farmer Associations Corporates, State Government

Presence of Institutional framework like WSHGs and Farmer Associations

Government of India through the Women Farmers Entitlement Bill

Government has stated that farmers’ welfare is priority and is planning to bring many changes in agriculture

MEDIUM-TERM Challenges

Budget constraints and structuring meaningful consultations

Resistance to building feeding rooms, community creches and resting rooms

LONG-TERM Expected Outcomes Government will get periodic feedback on their schemes and policies

Women will save time while discharging dual duties towards farm and caregiving Mobility in market facing roles Improvement in Health

Monitoring its implementation Preventing negative impact on women (losing contract)

Receptivity of such drives Availability of trainers/ experts

Political resolve and budget constraints

Fair pay Labour recognition Improvement in Health and working conditions Short term: Support for women Long term: Mindset shift from patriarchy to equality

Separate funds and budgets which work for the welfare of the women farmers in the country Financial independence


SHORT-TERM Policy Area




b.Financial Literacy programs

Trainers/ experts, WSHGs, Farmer Associations Corporates, State Government

c. Banking Kiosks for every 100 female farmers

Government of India, Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers’ welfare, Banking sector institutions

d. Link women to Micro-Finance Institutions (MFIs)

Government of India, Financial Institutions, micro-credit organizations, WSHGs, Corporates, State Governments

e. Incentivizing WSHGs through preferential group schemes


Government of India, Financial Institutions, WSHGs, Corporates, State Governments

a. Technical knowledge programs on cotton sustainability

Sustainable farming experts, WSHGs, farmer associations, State Governments, Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers’ welfare

b. Soft skills building programs

Soft skills trainers/ experts, WSHGs, Farmer Associations Corporates, State Government

Enabling factors

NGOs and civil societies working in this sphere

Institutional mechanisms present rural communities for other aids

MEDIUM-TERM Challenges

Lack of trainers/ experts within rural communities

Budget constraints

Rise of MFIs Presence of institutional capacity

Without financial literacy, this would not help

Preferential schemes framework Aligning interests of stakeholders as a tool is widely used and popular

Agricultural institutes and agriculture entrepreneurs have good knowledge

Reaching farmers across rural communities

LONG-TERM Expected Outcomes Financial Independence Improved risk management capacity

Financial literacy Wider reach through kiosks

Collective risk-taking Improved inputs and productivity

Reliance on women in households Financial independence of women

Sustainable practices in cotton farming

Lack of experts within rural communities

Improved confidence NGOs and civil societies working in this sphere

Lack of trainers/ experts within rural communities

in women Women participate in market-facing roles


SHORT-TERM Policy Area


c. Digital literacy



Technology trainers/ experts, WSHGs, NGOs and civil Civil societies, societies working in farmer associations \ this sphere Corporates, State Government

Leadership trainers/ experts, WSHGs, d. Women farmer Farmer Associations leadership Corporates, training programs State Government, community leaders

e. Mobile training Program Kiosks for every 1000 women farmers

f. Increase number of women trainers

a. Training women on alternate skills

5.4 DEVELOP ALTERNATE LIVELIHOODS AND INCOME OPPORTUNITIES b. Alternate opportunities in textile value chain

Enabling factors

Central Government, trainers/ experts, WSHGs, Civil societies, Corporates CSR, State Government

NGOs and civil societies working in this sphere Rise of women community leaders

Institutional mechanisms present rural communities for other aids

MEDIUM-TERM Challenges

Lack of trainers/ experts within rural communities

Identifying community leaders and providing periodic training

Budget constraints

LONG-TERM Expected Outcomes

Faster access to information and schemes

Increase of women leaders Women empowerment

Women trained on different skill sets to be able to work as cultivators and farm managers

Increase in number of trained women

Trainer trainers, community leaders, civil societies, State Government

NGOs and civil societies working in this sphere

Identifying women who can be trained as trainers (local reach)

Central Government, trainers, field experts, WSHGs, Civil societies, Corporates CSR, State Government

Institutional mechanisms present in other industry and farming groups

Market for alternate opportunities should be there

Retailers, Suppliers, brands, designers, trainers, Government, WSHGs

Increase in civil societies and brands working on such models

New sources of Identifying effective income for farmers mechanisms for alternate engagement Lower indebtedness

Development of informal channels of support

New sources of income for farmers Lower indebtedness


SHORT-TERM Policy Area


a. Strengthening women SHGs



Enabling factors

Presence of WSHGs Government of India ( National level and Proof of concept States), Industry with several bodies schemes

MEDIUM-TERM Challenges WSHGs are currently not leveraged to full potential Local network talent deficit

LONG-TERM Expected Outcomes Development of institutional mechanism to deliver several schemes and aids

b. Leveraging Corporate Social Responsibility funds

Government of India (National level), Corporates

Existence of CSR bill and tax benefits framework

c. Invest in and promote innovations in cotton farming

Government of India (National level), Agriculture innovators, startups, industry bodies

Budget constraints Interest from HNIs and impact Lack of institutional investors in this field capacity

d. Promoting gender-made produce

Government of India (National level and States), Industry bodies, Retailers, Suppliers, brands, designers

Consumers are becoming conscious of their consumption

Increased awareness Widely distributed and of women farmers disintegrated cotton and support from value chain consumers

e. Women for women emotional and financial solidarity

Women, Retailers, Suppliers, brands, designers, Consumers, funds, marketing agencies

Improved financial status of women in urban areas

Creating long term sustainable impact

f. Strategic partnerships for fairer distribution of profits

Startups, Cooperatives, local Government

Integration makes business sense

Will reduce Widely distributed and marginalization disintegrated cotton stakeholders and value chain improve income

g. Transparency rating system

Government of India, Think tanks, retailers, suppliers, brands, designers, certification bodies

Increased concern on sustainability and fair practices due to brand image

Political Resolve

Cooperation from stakeholders

Increased social funding in this sphere

Increased social innovations and sustainability solutions

Same as above

Institutional mechanism supporting fair trace practices


6. CONCLUSION Cotton policy study with respect to women cotton farmers has made it evident that women have a strong role to play in bringing in economic, social and environmental sustainability to the cotton value chain. The challenges farmers face, have short as well as long term policy needs. Both need to be balanced to ensure sustainable changes in the farm and villages. Stakeholders’ lack of knowledge about cotton farmers plight, especially women farmers, highlighted the issue of transparency and awareness in the cotton value chain. Farmers are in integral part of the cotton supply chain, and small changes can bring about a big change in their lives. There is immense scope for public and private players to collaborate creatively in mitigating the challenges faced by women farmers. It is also evident that there is tremendous potential for positive output if targeted interventions are implemented empowering women to become change agents. This study also shed light on the cultural mindsets that shape ground-realities which need to be addressed for long term benefit and for bringing in gender equality in cotton farming. The first step towards gender-equity is acknowledging the crucial role women play, recognizing their contribution towards the cotton industry and ensuring their voices are included in policy-making.



STAKEHOLDER INFORMATION Policy Dialogue Participants Abhishek Jani

Raj Janagam

Amit Jain

Rini Bankhwal

CEO, Fairtrade India

Founder, Funky Kalakar Anna Warrington India Director, Forum for the Future

Deepika Prabhu

Partner, Peepul Consulting

Devika Purandare Manager, British Council

Devina Singh

Campaigns and Outreach Manager, Fairtrade India

Karan Kumar

Strategy and Innovation consultant, Intellecap

Komal Shah

E-Business Head & Product Manager, Soul Space

Komal Shah

Head Arts, West India, British Council

Mahesh Jai Singhani British Council

Co-founder and CEO, Surge Impact Foundation PR & Strategic Partnerships, Nicobar Design

Rheanne D-Souza British Council

Sanil Shah

Director & CEO, Naina Apparels

Thasneem Masood Founder, Rossbelle

Vinayak Rao

Senior Experts Projects, Gherzi

Deepshikha Khanna

Head of Product Development, Good Earth ‘Sustain’

Claire Marrinan Mansi Shah

Head of Business Development, Hemp Fabric Lab, Bombay Hemp Company (BOHECO)

Pooja Gupta

Founder, Door of Maai

INTERVIEWEES Debashish Baisak

Medha Shah

Producer & Marketer of Handloom Items, Tangal Tantujivi Unnyan Samabay Samiti Ltd

Founder, Weaver Bird

Devina Singh Campaigns and Outreach Manager, Fairtrade India

Private Business – Handlooms, Islampur, Murshidabad, West Bengal

Gijs Spoor

Padma Bai

Incubator, Auroville Fellow Rural Innovation and Farming, Ashoka India

Cotton Farmer

Government Official

Director & CEO, Naina Apparels

Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers’ welfare

Lavanya Garg Senior Researcher, Good Business Lab

Lingu Bai

Nani Gopal Sarkar

Sanil Shah Somatish Banerji Associate Vice President, Intellecap

V. Swaminathan Managing Committee, Organic Farming Association of India (OFAI)

Cotton Farmer



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