"Rameshwari Devi driving force behind the self-help group set up under the auspices of ICRISAT, an organisation that seeks to empower the women left behind to take charge of their lives and reduce the vulnerability of communities living in these harsh environments. " [Prashant Panjiar/ICRISAT/Al Jazeera]
Story featured in
Rameshwari Devi rises at 4am each day to fetch water from up to 4km away. 'We use brackish water for cooking and other needs,' she says. There is no fresh water source nearby. Across India it is estimated women spend 150 million work days each year fetching water. [Prashant Panjiar/ICRISAT/Al Jazeer]
"The Thar desert covers 60 percent of Rajasthan. Food, cattle feed and water are always in short supply. Livestock often die due to lack of food and men often migrate to urban areas to supplement household incomes." [Prashant Panjiar/ICRISAT/Al Jazeera]
If it rains then there is fodder for the animals. Else they die,' says Rameshawi Devi. 'One maund (40 kg) of fodder costs 400 Indian rupees ($6.6) which is very expensive.  [Amit Chakravarty/ICRISAT/Al Jazeera]
To improve nutrition and supplement livelihoods, Fruit trees have been supplied to the village by ICRISAT. 'These trees will not only provide nutrition but if there is a good harvest we can also sell in the market, Rameshwari Devi. [Prashant Panjiar/ICRISAT/Al Jazeera]
Taankas, a traditional method of capturing water, have a catchment area to collect rainwater which is then stored underground. Recently the village taankas have been upgraded and modernised.  [Prashant Panjiar/ICRISAT/Al Jazeera]
As president of the self-help group, Rameshwari Devi has petitioned the local authorities to lay a water pipeline to their village. She is also working to improve the anganwadi,or child day-care centre, in the village. [Prashant Panjiar/ICRISAT/Al Jazeera]
ICRISAT works directly with the women left behind in rural communities, taking into account their needs and capitalising on their local knowledge. [Prashant Panjiar/ICRISAT/Al Jazeera]
Women have been working with scientists from ICRISAT to help reduce adversities and provide hope for the community. [Prashant Panjiar/ICRISAT/Al Jazeera]
For the women of Derasar, the lack of water is an issue that blights their lives. The region faces water scarcity up to 11 months of the year. 'Water is a major problem for all of us,' says Manibai. [Prashant Panjiar/ICRISAT/Al Jazeera]
Manibai grows pearl millet, cluster bean, green gram, moth bean, sesame and watermelons on her 6.5 hectares of land. 'Pearl millet is only for self-consumption while the pulses are sold if there is any surplus left over,' she says. [Prashant Panjiar/ICRISAT/Al Jazeera]
ICRISAT offers science-backed research to improve water storage technology and advice on crops to help the villagers increase their income. [Prashant Panjiar/ICRISAT/Al Jazeera]
We provide rural women training in improved farming and
water conservation techniques
; post-harvest processing; make available
affordable processing equipment; and connect women to credit facilities and markets.
We train young women and help them set up agribusiness ventures.

Empowering Women in Integrated Crop-Livestock Farming through Innovation Platforms: Experience in Semi-arid Zimbabwe

Fodder innovation for women - Women farmers growing Mucuna to nourish their goats and farm soil. Photo: P Masikati

Fodder innovation for women – Women farmers growing Mucuna to nourish their goats and farm soil. Photo: P Masikati

‘Empowering Women in Integrated Crop-Livestock Farming through Innovation Platforms’ has drawn upon the experience gained during the ZimCLIFS project in semi-arid Zimbabwe, funded by the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research, to introduce legume fodder crops like Mucuna as a better livestock feed, to improve market linkages for farmers to benefit from higher livestock productivity and to enhance knowledge and skills among support services enabling upscaling of the impacts of the integrated crop-livestock systems. In particular, it looks at how agricultural innovation platforms of commodities important for women farmers (goat, groundnut) can empower women in this rural context.

In rural Zimbabwe, women farmers face multiple challenges such as degraded soil, lack of labor, inaccessible/far-off markets to sell their produce/livestock, inadequate supplies of resources (seeds/fertilizers), as also climate change-related issues such as frequent droughts and dry spells.

Innovation platforms that support integrated crop-and-livestock systems and particularly increase women farmers’ ability to grow and monetize high-value crops and livestock can significantly mitigate the challenges faced by them and improve their livelihoods. By encouraging women to participate in processes of market development, capacity building and infrastructure improvement, a gender-sensitive framework can be implemented and maintained sustainably.


Our gender experts explain how rural women can be made a force to reckon with.

Dr Jummai Othnielyila, CGIAR GLDC

Dr Esther Mwihaki Njuguna, CGIAR GLDC

Dr R Padmaja, ICRISAT

News & Stories

100 Voices on Women in Agriculture

Ms Gloria Afolayan
Dr Polly Ericksen
Prof Wendy Umberger
Dr Albertus Kamanzi

Ms Marzia Sadaat
Dr Claudia Ringler
Dr Padmaja Ravula
Dr Alison Bentley

Integrating gender across the agricultural R4D value chain

Towards an inclusive environment

ICRISAT has developed this agricultural R4D value chain graphic to represent
the holistic approach we take working from land and
water management all the way through to
agribusiness and market development.


For Scientific Information & Projects on Gender




More images                

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