On International women’s day, RAHI launches women-led projects as part of its SAMBAL initiative in Koraput, Malkangiri and Nabrangpur districts of Odisha

· To mark this year’s International Women’s Day on 8 March, RAHI is underlining the crucial role of women farmers in India

· The projects shall work exclusively with women farmers to improve food security and food diversity in chosen areas of Koraput, Malkangiri and Nabrangpur districts of Odisha

Bhubaneswar: The theme for International Women’s Day 2021 is #ChooseToChallenge. In line with the theme, Rise Against Hunger India chose to challenge preconceived notions associated with farming and the role of women farmers in India. On this occasion, RAHI has launched projects aimed at eradication of malnutrition through farm-based micro-projects in hunger hotspots of India, as part of its SAMBAL initiative launched on World Food Day 2020.

The projects shall work exclusively with women farmers to improve food security and food diversity in chosen areas of Koraput, Malkangiri and Nabrangpur districts of Odisha. These districts are one of the most severely malnourished districts of India. International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) has ranked Koraput at 541, Nabrangpur at 575, Malkangiri at 588 among 599 districts studied for prevalence of hunger and malnutrition.

RAHI shall work with the following partners to bring change in the lives of women farmers:

• ACCORD in Ponchada, Koraput

• IYSARA in Nandahandi, Nabrangpur

• PRASTUTEE in Pottangi, Koraput

• UNMESHA in Mathili, Malkangiri

Speaking on the occasion, Mr Dola Mohapatra, Executive Director, Rise Against Hunger India said, “Working with women farmers provides higher chances of addressing malnutrition. This is because higher resources placed in the hands of women in a family result in the resources being utilised more efficiently for the welfare of all family members. Women-led increase in food produce and food diversity shall ensure better nutrition to all family members as a priority. While a male member of the family may prioritise the higher sale of farm produce, a woman would prioritise better nutrition for the family members using the farm produce.”

He added, “Income generated from the sale of surplus also has a higher chance of being spent on nutrition and education of children if the decision is taken by a female member, as compared to a male member who may spend it on buying things related to status or worse on alcohol and other addictions.”

In rural India, the percentage of women who depend on agriculture for their livelihood is as high as 84%. Women make up about 33% of cultivators and about 47% per cent of agricultural labourers. Yet, most initiatives related to agriculture and livelihoods ignore the role and contribution of women farmers.

RAHI shall work with Women SHGS and Women Farmer-Groups to promote climate-friendly agriculture that increases food production and food diversity. The projects aim to increase the content and diversity of the food plates in malnourished areas. Surplus production can lead to additional scope and benefits of livelihood enhancement and forward linkages, thus enhancing income.