Integrated Farming System with Gender Perspective
Authors: Pampi Paul, Mukesh Kumar and Dr. B.S.Meena

For every nation socioeconomic development of the people is of prime importance. The overall development agenda for the world is presently guiding by 17 sustainable development goals (SDGs) and the ultimate line was drawn for the achievement of goal is by 2030. One important area would be sustainability of food production system and to achieve this, resilience of farming system is of prime importance. Human and biophysical activities make changes in environmental, economic and social climate, which in turn provides stress on farming system. Resilience, in simple term, is the ability to bounce back or ability to resist change. Various empirical studies have reported that Integrated Farming System (IFS) is more resilient than mono crop based farming system.

Societal aphorism:

The term 'gender' and society is unified to each other. It is always being a part of a societal perspective; family, community and at last society plays function in development of the ultimate roles and responsibilities of both the gender. Every society has its own customary law which can be understood as 'an established system of immemorial rules' which basically evolved and maintained by the culture of the people, thus generating common knowledge of 'who does what' and dictates acceptable standards of behavior in a society. From the beginning, Indian farming system went through familial tradition. Thus social relations and gender roles are directly tied with economic independence, decision-making abilities, participation, agency and access to education and health services etc. The country India, where patrilineal society always makes the roles, efforts and their achievement as secondary. So, women have less access and control over all land and productive resources, impacting their economic opportunities and ultimately to the empowerment. Social customs dictate that women, especially in rural areas, should in addition to agricultural activities be responsible for cooking, carrying water and fetching firewood, limiting their participation in decision-making processes and their exposure to those economic opportunities that arise, thus increasing the level of inequality.

Gender Role in farming:

Gender roles are that played by both women and men; are not determined by biological factors but by the socio-economic and cultural situation. Gender affects the distribution of labour, resources, wealth, work, decision-making, political power as well as the enjoyment of rights and entitlements within the family and in public life. Traditional gender roles have a great influence on gender relationship in the society and the pattern of gender socialisation in the region has been shaped by the deeply rooted culture of patriarchy. Women typically take on three types of roles in terms of the paid and unpaid labour they undertake. These three roles are

1. The productive role : It refers to commercial or subsistence production undertaken by women which generates an income or helps in maintenance of family

2. The reproductive role : It refers to the child-bearing and child-rearing responsibilities borne by women (which are essential to the reproduction of the workforce).

3. The community management role: It refers to activities undertaken by women to ensure the provision of resources at the community level, as an extension of their reproductive role.

Women perform a variety of roles, of which many are of greater economic significance. The nature and extent of women involvement in agriculture, no doubt, varies greatly from region to region. Even within a region, their involvement varies widely among different ecological sub-zones, farming systems, castes, classes and stages in the family cycle. Agriculture sector employs 4/5th of all economically active women in the country. On an average 48 per cent of India's self-employed farmers are women.

Integrated farming system a way to sustainability:

Integrated Farming System (IFS) is important means to ensure sustainability as well as food security. Traditionally this is followed by farmers of many parts of India, but what is needed today, is to ensure enhancement of both tangible and intangible benefits of the system and equitable distribution of benefits across both the gender. Integrated Farming System (IFS) is a farming system where different but dependent set of enterprises used so that the by-product from one component becomes an input for another part of the system. So the obvious advantages over single enterprise based farming system are efficient resource allocation (like family labour, external input, etc.), waste management, regulation of soil fertility and health, income and employment generation, greater empowerment of family members etc. Till now researchers predominantly focused on generating different appropriate combination of enterprises on the basis of land size, nature of land etc. The focus mostly was on suitability or environmental sustainability or economic viability; however gender issues with respect to Integrated Farming System may provide very important insights about the applicability and suitability of IFS in rural Indian society.

IFS with Gender Perspective:

It is fact that feminization of agriculture is taking place at a great speed. But in a patrilineal society like India, women are always considered as second to men. Access and control over productive resources are largely under the jurisdiction of men. Even various study showed that women are very much prone to distress sell. As a whole, in each and every step of farming, discrimination based on sex is predominant. This farming system helps them to get nutritional as well as food security. Various studies recorded that farm-women were also allowed to access marketing opportunity but in case of making decision regarding various aspects she was second to her husband only. An understanding of those three roles (productive, reproductive and community management role) can inform gender-aware planning that takes into account the differential impact of programmes and projects on women and men because of women's triple role. The consequences of under-estimations and under-valuations of rural women's work are very serious. Failure to acknowledge the importance of women's multiple contributions to rural survival means that practical policy interventions are frequently detrimental both to women themselves and to the whole communities.

Key Gender Issues

As keepers of local knowledge, women are an important contributor to the different farming system. Men, women, boys, and girls will often have differing knowledge and skills depending on their roles and responsibilities in farming system. Gendered asymmetries in access to and delivery of different services not only do a great disservice to women and men farmers and processors, but they also stifle the potential for more sustainable and effective actions along a given value chain of the framing system.

Another major issue is inequality in access and control over resources. Access means right & opportunity of male and female to use the resources as per one's need to carry out the activities and control means rights and power of the gender to decide on the use of the resources. Various productive resources such as land, water, livestock and agricultural implements have direct impact on whether men, women, boys, and girls can forge life-enhancing livelihood strategies. Access and control over resources has immediate impact on not only women themselves but also to the family welfare. around the world, women tend to have more control over the poultry they produce and market.

Even though women have massive contribution in different on farm and off farm activities it is unfortunate that agrarian Indian society relegated women to the exclusive role of worker rather than active decision maker. Power, authority and decision-making issues seem to rest exclusively with the males only. Although there can be various aspects of understanding gender roles in farming, one important aspect is disaggregated gender information based on enterprises in Integrated Farming System. Predominantly, crop based enterprise was more drudgery prone for women due to various psycho-social reasons where as poultry, dairy were relatively gender friendly. However research in this direction is very much needed.


Devasenapathy,P., Mytswamy,V., Christopher Louduraj,A. And Rabindran ,R.(1995), Integrated farming systems for sustained productivity. Madras Agricultural Journal, 82:306-307.

Dhaka, J.P., Singh ,C.B., Muylwijk, J. and Chakravarty, R. (1994), Gender analysis of dairy and crop farming system in karnal district. Proceedings of A National Seminar on farming system research for improving Livestock production and crop residue utilisation in National Dairy Research Institute ,karnal, Haryana, India on November 24-26,1994.

FAO (2011), The State of Food and Agriculture: Women in Agriculture-Closing the gender gap for development.Rome: FAO.

About Author / Additional Info:
I am a PhD scholar in Dairy Extension Division, ICAR-National Dairy Research Institute, Karnal-132001 Haryana (India)