ASIA/NEPAL - New technological equipment is needed to facilitate the heavy work of women farmers

Kathmandu (Agenzia Fides) - Most of the agricultural sector in Nepal is taken care of by women, however, there is a lack of adequate facilities to meet all the demands of work in the fields. New technologies that can reduce their heavy manual labor is needed. Agriculture provides livelihoods for more than 60% of the rural population, but most farmers, regardless of their gender, continue to work using traditional manual practices and rarely use mechanical equipment.
Women, traditionally involved in agriculture, have seen an increase in responsibilities, tasks and workload given the high rate of emigration of most men to other countries. According to the last census in 2011, in fact, nine out of ten have left the country, both definitely and temporarily. In 2010, 3% of households managed by women use mechanical equipment, compared to 8% of those managed by men. In the work in the fields, the technological needs of the two sexes are different. The Institute for Integrated Development Studies, a group of experts in Kathmandu, highlighted the fact that greater focus on agricultural research and training could reduce poverty through the creation and diffusion of new technologies, directly aimed at solving problems concerning poor farmers, including those of women who, because of the division of labor, have different technological needs than men. For example, in the selection of rice, men primarily dedicate themselves to the increase of production while women consider the taste, smell and ease of threshing and cooking. Moreover, if women were more technically facilitated with manure, seeds and pesticides they would be able to do everything by themselves with greater savings in energy and time. Small tools and equipment that mechanize sowing and harvesting as well as post-harvest are needed. Rural women in the country are, however, less educated than men, with an average of only one year of formal schooling. The success of any new innovation therefore depends on the empowerment of women, on their training and access to information. However, even if new machinery arrived only women in urban areas would be able to use them. (AP) (Agenzia Fides 02/08/2012)

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