Krushi Odisha 2024 showcases the mettle of women farmers to drive investment

Krushi Odisha 2024 showcases mettle of women farmers to drive investment

Bhubaneswar: The three-day Krushi Odisha 2024 conclave with the theme ‘Celebrating Women in Agriculture’ inaugurated by the Chief Minister of the State, Naveen Patnaik at Janta Maidan on 12 January, concluded yesterday. More than 70 per cent of the participants were women farmers and the lead women farmers were recognised and felicitated at the event.

Chief Minister Patnaik, in his inaugural speech, acknowledged the contribution of international experts and scientists from the CGIAR in improving agriculture in the state of Odisha.

The pre-inaugural session ‘Gender-responsive and Nutri-sensitive Food Systems – Delivering Nutrition and Health for All’ was led by the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) in partnership with the Odisha University of Agriculture and Technology (OUAT).

Commending the Government of Odisha on the initiative, the Director General of ICRISAT, Dr Jacqueline Hughes, underscored the organisation’s commitment to inclusive growth, noting that the empowerment of women in agriculture fosters positive change towards healthier food systems and a sustainable future.

“As we celebrate the achievements of women in agriculture, it is crucial to integrate their perspectives into research and policy. ICRISAT is committed to promoting gender-responsive solutions that ensure a sustainable and resilient agricultural future for all,” Dr Hughes shared.

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The session on ‘Gender-responsive and Nutri-sensitive Food Systems was led by Principal Scientist, Dr Padmaja Ravula emphasised the substantial contributions of the ICRISAT-Government of Odisha partnership in promoting social inclusiveness, paving the way for economic and nutrition gains for women farmers.

The session was chaired by Professor Pravat Kumar Roul, the Vice-Chancellor of OUAT, and co-chaired by Dr Sean Mayes, Global Research Program Director for Accelerated Crop Improvement at ICRISAT.

“Women in agriculture are not just contributors; they are leaders, innovators, and stewards of the land. It’s time to recognise and amplify their role in shaping the future of farming,” said, Prof Pravat Kumar Roul.

“We need to work hand-in-hand with female farmers who are critical in shaping the diets of the family – empowering women farmers not only empowers current families but safeguards future families through improved health and nutrition in children,” said, Dr Sean Mayes.

Farmer Rajeshwari Majhi, who trained at ICRISAT, spoke about the ‘varietal cafeteria’ she set up, showcasing new groundnut varieties in the Rayagada district.

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The session covered topics such as nutrition-sensitive agriculture in Odisha, Insights from a gender and nutrition lens on the Odisha Millets Mission; Women’s participation in agriculture in Odisha energy expenditure; time use and nutrition implications; Nutritious diet for healthy pregnancy; and Women’s empowerment in nutrition.

The topics were presented by the panellists. Dr Rakesh Shrivastava, Principal Scientist ICRISAT; Prof Srijit Mishra, Indira Gandhi Institute of Development Research; Prof. Chittur Srinivasan, University of Reading – UK; Prof. Vijaya Kancherla, Health Epidemiologist (USA) and Dr R Padmaja, respectively.

An energetic, interactive session with women farmers led by Kavita Kasala, Associate Manager and Community Nutrition Scientist, elicited women’s responses for shaping the agenda for future gender-responsive research.

Sabya Ranjan Mohapatra, Assistant Agricultural Office (Seeds), Government of Odisha, introduced the award-winning women farmers, who were felicitated at the event.

The three-day Krushi Odisha 2024 event saw the active participation of ICRISAT staff as panellists at various other sessions on topics ranging from digital agriculture to the socio-economic development of women through seed production. The ICRISAT stall had on display diverse millet varieties and products prepared by women from the Millet Shakti Processing unit.

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